Season review The 2017 season will go down as one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.  Not just for the 5-11 record but because of the huge level of expectation placed upon the team from their 9-7 mark the previous year, the free agent and draft additions and that most pundits around the NFL had them pencilled in as the next great young thing in the league and an expected post-season appearance for the first time in 10 years.   What they got were a pair of five-game losing streaks and enough off-field issues to last a team for more than one season. Free agency saw the arrival of a big money deep threat in the form of DeSean Jackson and the draft added another offensive weapon in TE OJ Howard.  The Bucs seemed to be loaded offensively with Jameis Winston expected to take the next step forward in his third NFL season.    Off-season losses such as Mike Glennon and  Vincent Jackson were expected and the NFL designated the Buccaneers as their featured team for their annual “Hard Knocks” series with cameras everywhere during training camp, both on and off the field.  Whether this had a detrimental effect on the team will remain unknown but it did not seem to help in anyway. The tail-end of the pre-season was affected by Hurricane Irma hitting the Florida coast with Miami taking the brunt of the storm.   The season opener in South Florida could not take place and with both teams having their bye week at the same time, the NFL took the only logical step by postponing that game until November instead of playing it at a neutral venue such as Pittsburgh which had been suggested.   What it meant was neither team would get a real bye week during the season and would play for 16 straight weeks.  This definitely did have a detrimental effect on the team. Kicking woes during the pre-season saw 2016 2nd round pick Roberto Aguayo released but the malaise affected his replacement Nick Folk in the same way.  His miscues almost cost a Week 3 win over the Giants and did cost the Bucs their chance in a nationally-televised Thursday night game against the Patriots.   He was replaced by Patrick Murray but the losses began to mount up as did the injuries, Jameis Winston missing three games at mid-season with a shoulder issue. The Bucs did win two of those games behind Ryan Fitzpatrick but the defense was getting gashed week after week because of a lack of pass rush, the Bucs ending the year dead last in sacks.   But the team never quit on Dirk Koetter in spite of no less than five players going on IR in a single week and four straight losses by less than a touchdown was tough to take for fans and officials alike.   Rumours began to spread about former coach Jon Gruden wanting to return to the sideline from his ESPN commentary role and when the Monday Night game against Atlanta saw the Super Bowl-winning coach inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor, the stories moved from a local to a national audience. Eventually the team issued a statement before the final game of the season that Koetter would return as coach in 2018 and Gruden ultimately wound up taking over the Oakland Raiders.   The Bucs came out in their season finale playing more carefree football and upset the playoff-bound Saints on a touchdown with nine seconds remaining that ultimately dropped them from 4th to 7th in the 2018 draft.  Questions about Winston’s ball security remained unanswered despite his continued promise and a lack of effectiveness on both sides of the line remained needing to be addressed as the  year ended.    The end result was a 10th straight season out of the playoffs, now the second-longest in the NFL and the frustration from the fans continued to grow as the calendar moved into the 2018 off-season.
PLAYERS OUT CB Jude Adjei-Barimeh K Roberto Aguayo G Josh Allen T Gosder Cherilus (Retired) LS Andrew DePaola WR Donteea Dye QB Mike Glennon (UFA - Chicago) WR Vincent Jackson (Retired) DE Howard Jones S Bradley McDougald (UFA - Seattle) TE Brandon Myers WR Russell Shepard (UFA - Carolina) WR Cecil Shorts LB Daryl Smith DT Akeem Spence (UFA - Detroit) CB Alteraaun Verner
PLAYERS IN TE Antony Auclair (undrafted FA) DT Chris Baker (UFA - Washington) DE Will Clarke QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (UFA - NY Jets) K Nick Folk WR Dexter Jackson (UFA - Washington) CB Robert McClain (UFA - LA Chargers) S TJ Ward