Season review The 2016 season will be looked back on as a successful one for the Buccaneer franchise but still without the reward of a post-season berth as their 9-7 record meant they missed out on the playoffs on tie-breakers to the  Detroit Lions.  The five-game winning streak that began in November hoisted them up the NFL Power Rankings and most media outlets had the Bucs as the best team to miss out on the post-season in 2016. The year began with the firing of Lovie Smith after two years and an 8-24 record.  He was quickly replaced by Dirk Koetter, promoted from Offensive Co-ordinator and with college head coaching experience as well as a long NFL resume.   His work with the 2015 offense and in particular 1st round pick Jameis Winston meant that continuty would be the name of the game at One Buc Place with most of his assistant coaches staying in place from the previous regime.   Former Atlanta head coach, Mike Smith, joined his former colleague as the new Defensive Co-ordinator. The draft brought a major surprise as after the expected selection of CB Vernon Hargreaves with the 11th overall selection, the Bucs traded up to take the top-rated kicker, Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo being the highest selected specialist in the NFL draft since the Oakland Raiders took Sebastian Janikowski. Unfortunately Aguayo’s rookie performance left something to be desired. The Bucs hit in free agency with the arrival of solid veterans Robert Ayers and Brent Grimes whilst Bryan Anger proved to be one of the best punters in franchise history and had a stellar year.  None of the players allowed to leave in free agency impressed elsewhere in the NFL and the draft also brought a talented pass rusher in Noah Spence. After a somewhat surprising victory in the season-opening road game in Atlanta, the Bucs had tough losses at home to the Rams and Broncos before a depleted team took the field on a Monday night in Carolina.  Despite missing all four defensive line starters, RB Doug Martin and with Aguayo missing key kicks, they came through against the defending NFC champions to pull their record back to 2-3. Two home losses in five days to Oakland and Atlanta saw the Bucs conceed over 1,000 yards and questions were being asked of Smith’s defense during the 10-day break before their next game.  The Buccaneer team that returned to action against the Bears was a very different animal and a hammering of Chicago started a five-game winning streak that was the team’s longest in 14 years.   During that stretch, they led the NFL in turnovers and moved to the potential wild-card berth and a game out of the division lead. Wins on the road against the Chiefs and Chargers coupled with home wins against the Seahawks and Saints in which the Bucs did not conceed a touchdown brought notice to the NFL of the turnaround in Tampa Bay.   Unfortunately narrow losses in Dallas and New Orleans left a Week 17 miracle in terms of other results needing to go the Bucs’ way which did not happen. 2016 will go down as an improvement for the Buccaneer franchise but only time will tell if it is a stepping stone to future success or another false dawn as the 2010 season turned out to be.
PLAYERS OUT K Connor Barth DE Da’Quan Bowers LB Bruce Carter DE TJ Fatinikun CB Mike Jenkins FB Jovorskie Lane LB Danny Lansanah G Logan Mankins (retired) DT Tony McDaniel DT Henry Melton CB Sterling Moore RB Bobby Rainey P Jacob Schum
PLAYERS IN P Bryan Anger (UFA - Jacksonville) DE Robert Ayers (UFA - NY Giants) TE Alan Cross C Ben Gottschalk CB Brent Grimes (UFA - Miami) CB Josh Robinson (UFA - Minnesota) RB Jacquizz Rodgers LB Daryl Smith (UFA - Baltimore)
TRADES Apr 28 - Traded a 2016 1st round pick to the Chicago Bears for 2016 1st and 4th round picks.   Tampa Bay selected CB Vernon Hargreaves with the first pick and traded the second to Kansas City in a later deal.  Chicago selected LB Leonard Floyd. Apr 29 - Traded 2016 3rd and 4th round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2016 2nd round pick.  Tampa Bay selected K Roberto Aguayo.  Kansas City selected CB KeiVarae Russell and CB Eric Murray. Nov 1 - Traded CB Johnthan Banks to the Detroit Lions for a conditional 2018 7th round pick