Three months have since passed after the NFL announced the alteration of the league’s regular schedule for the 2020 NFL season following the COVID-19 surge. While it’s just a few weeks before the regular season kicks off, several clubs are making offseason preparations for success in the upcoming season.
The Tampa Bay Bucs are also making their efforts to get ready for the nearing 2020 NFL season. Let’s take a look at some of the recent offseason updates by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so far.
1. The Signing Of RB LeSean McCoy
Table of Contents
The Bucs are aiming high with their NFL offseason preparation after adding running back LeSean McCoy, who is entering his 11th season, to the team. The former Eagles, Bills and Chiefs veteran reached a one-year agreement with Tampa Bay worth $1 million. This is a good deal for Bucs considering it is both low-cost and low-risk. The veteran couldn’t hide the excitement of teaming up with great players like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to help Tampa Bay gear up for a playoff push and hopefully a Super Bowl run.
Bucs RB LeSean McCoy – Photo by: Getty Images
McCoy’s presence and leadership ability are some of the elements that would positively impact the Buccaneers offense in the 2020 campaign, especially if he can help mentor third-year back Ronald Jones II. McCoy, who has a history of being one of the best pass-catching backs with over 500 career receptions, won a Super Bowl in Kansas City last year, but wasn’t much of a factor in the postseason as Damien Williams took over the running back duties. McCoy averaged 4.6 yards per carry last year but three fumbles in nine games caused the Chiefs to turn to Williams for the lead running back duties at midseason.
2. Changes At Running Backs On The COVID-19 Reserve List
With COVID-19 becoming a major stumbling block to the 2020 NFL season, the league opted to create a reserve list for those players that either tested positive for the virus or those that were in close contact with infected persons. Tampa Bay had already placed rookie running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the Bucs’ third-round pick, on this list and saw two more of its players join the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Rookie running back Raymond Calais, the team’s seventh-round pick, and running back Aca’Cedric Ware were the two players who have recently been placed under the reserve list. Calais recently came off the list, as did Ware, who was waived due to the signing of McCoy. The signing of McCoy is a good one as the rookie running backs Vaughn and Calais were already behind the learning curve without the benefit of the rookie mini-camp and the OTAs this offseason. Missing time by being on the reserve/COVID-19 certainly didn’t help either, and not having a preseason will also stunt the rookies’ growth even more.
3. Concerns Over Bucs’ Readiness Without A Preseason
Bucs RB LeSean McCoy and TE Rob Gronkowski – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Preseason games always play a big role in making sure the players are ready or their first real games in the regular season. However, 2020 will be different as the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to cancel the preseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are question marks as to how much ready the Bucs will be in their first game against the Saints on September 13, especially for rookies like Tristan Wirfs, the first-round pick, whom the team had hoped to be the starting right tackle.
Aside from Tampa Bay’s rookie class, there will be some prominent veterans that could have used some reps in August with at least a few preseason games. Newcomers to the Bucs offense like Brady, Gronkowski and McCoy could have used a dress rehearsal before playing the NFC South champion Saints in Week 1 at New Orleans.
4. Bucs’ Roster Cuts
Roster trimming is often one of the hardest parts of the NFL season as teams have to part ways with players. Through the first week of August the Bucs have released tight end Jordan Leggett, safety Deiondre’ Hall, wide receivers Jaydon Mickens and Spencer Schnell, outside linebacker Nasir Player, cornerback M.J. Stewart and Ware. Reserve tackle Brad Seaton, who was a long shot to make the 53-man roster, was the Bucs’ first and only opt-out due to COVID-19 concerns.
5. “Last Chance U” Star Franklin Given One More Chance
Bucs WR John Franklin III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs wide receiver John Franklin III gained some popularity following his time at East Mississippi Community College where he starred in the “Last Chance U” Netflix documentary. He is now getting what would be a final shot in his football career in Tampa Bay. The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Franklin was a late-season addition to the roster last year and gained 11 yards on a carry out of the Wildcat formation in the season finale against Atlanta.
Franklin, who has sub-4.4 speed, has been talked up by head coach Bruce Arians this offseason, but he’ll have to win a roster spot as a wide receiver. Franklin will be competing against holdovers like Scotty Miller and Justin Watson, Tyler Johnson, this year’s fifth-round draft pick, in addition to players like Bryant Mitchell and Cyril Grayson, and undrafted free agents Josh Pearson, Travis Jonsen and John Hurst.