PLAYERS OUT DE Adrian Clayborn (UFA - Atlanta) T Anthony Collins (released) G Oniel Cousins (released) LB Dane Fletcher (released) LB Mason Foster (UFA - Chicago) S Dashon Goldson (Trade - Washington) WR Robert Herron (camp cut) CB Leonard Johnson (camp cut) DE Michael Johnson (released) P Michael Koenen (camp cut) QB Josh McCown (released) K Patrick Murray (camp cut) G Patrick Omameh (camp cut) WR Solomon Patton (released)
PLAYERS IN CB Jude Adjei-Barimeh (undrafted FA) K Connor Barth (re-signed) K Kyle Brindza (Trade - Detroit) LB Bruce Carter (UFA - Dallas) T Gosder Cherilus (FA before season) S Chris Conte (UFA - Chicago) WR Donteea Dye (undrafted FA) QB Ryan Griffin (waivers - New Orleans) C Joe Hawley (FA during season) WR Adam Humphries (undrafted FA) CB Tim Jennings (FA before season) DE George Johnson (Trade - Detroit) DE Howard Jones (FA during season) DT Tony McDaniel (UFA - Seattle) DT Henry Melton (UFA - Chicago) CB Sterling Moore (UFA - Dallas) P Jacob Schum (FA before season) S DJ Swearinger (Waivers - Houston)
Improvement but not enough to save Lovie Smith’s job The 2015 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began when the final play of the 2014 season as completed and the Bucs found themselves with the No.1 overall pick in the draft. Hence began four months of intense speculation which quarterback they would take, the Heisman Trophy winner from Florida State, Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Both had positives and negatives about their NFL potential but the Bucs went with the in-state choice and Winston became the next heir apparent to the mantle of franchise quarterback. The draft also brought help for the offensive line with two second round selections, Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. Both would become instant starters on a line that saw dramatic improvement over the previous year. The Bucs also hit the jackpot with their 4th round selection of LB Kwon Alexander who started from Day One in the middle of the defense calling the signals. Unfortunately it was that defense that caused problems during the season as having been lit up by Mariota’s Tennessee Titans in an embarrassing home opening loss, they found themselves unable to stop teams mounting long drives against them and quarterbacks of all ilks posted record completion numbers against them throughout the season. On the other side of the ball was a record-setting Buccaneer offense. Winston took every snap and passed for over 4,000 yards becoming only the third NFL rookie QB to achieve that milestone. The offense set a franchise record for total yards and finished 5th in the NFL, by far the best in Tampa Bay history. The running game was second best in the league with Doug Martin named an All-Pro for exceeding 1,400 yards including a massive 235- yard game in the 45-17 shellacking of the Eagles in November. This was done in spite of a succession of key injuries, veteran WR Vincent Jackson missing six games, top TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins nine and No.3 receiver Louis Murphy was lost for the season after six games. In their place emerged unheralded TE Cameron Brate, second-year RB Charles Sims and undrafted WR Adam Humphries, the latter showing signs of becoming the second coming of Wes Welker with his inside slot play. The defense saw a magic roundabout of players shuttled in and out of the starting secondary with no less than six different cornerbacks and four safeties opening games for the Bucs, none to do with injury. Gerald McCoy had a Pro Bowl season but played hurt much of the time but the pass rush from the rest of the line was almost non-existent. LB Lavonte David had a stellar second half of the season having signed a huge contract extension before training camp but as the games wore on, more and more criticism was aimed at Lovie Smith’s defensive philosophy. The Bucs thought they were on the verge of playoff contention when they beat the Falcons to move to 6-6 and a game out of the Wild Card spot but the final four games were all disappointing losses in which the team seemed flat including a meek surrender in the season finale in Carolina. It still came as somewhat of a surprise when Lovie Smith was fired as head coach three days after the end of the season and two days after his traditional final press conference at One Buccaneer Place. The owners were not happy with the direction the team was taking in spite of the four-game improvement in the win column and hence for the third time in five years, the Buccaneers were in the market for a new head coach.
TRADES Apr 3 - Traded S Dashon Goldson and a 2016 7th round pick to the Washington Redskins for a 2016 6th round pick. Tampa Bay selected FB Dan Vitale. Washington selected LB Steven Daniels. Apr 15 - Traded a 2015 5th round pick to the Detroit Lions for DE George Johnson and a 2015 7th round pick. Tampa Bay selected FB Joey Iosefa. Detroit selected FB Michael Burton. May 1 - Traded 2015 3rd and 4th round picks to the Indianapolis Colts for 2015 2nd and 4th round picks. Tampa Bay selected T Ali Marpet with the first pick and traded the second pick to Oakland in a later trade. Indianapolis selected CB D'Joun Smith and SS Clayton Geathers. May 1 - Traded 2015 4th and 7th round picks to the Oakland Raiders for a 2015 4th round pick. Tampa Bay selected LB Kwon Alexander. Oakland selected G Jon Feliciano and OL Anthony Morris. Aug 31 - Traded TE Tim Wright to the Detroit Lions for K Kyle Brindza.