Season review Dirk Koetter’s third and ultimately final season as Buccaneer head coach saw a promising off-season derailed by off-field issues, a promising 2-0 start derailed by their back-up quarterback coming back to earth and a record-breaking franchise offensive performance derailed by multiple turnovers and a terrible first half of the season defensive performance. The Bucs had identified the main area of concern on their defense as being the front four and spent the early parts of the free agency period doing everything they could to improve it.  Free agency brought a pair of Super Bowl winners from Philadelphia in Beau Allen and Vinny Curry and a trade with the Giants saw sack king Jason Pierre- Paul arrive in Tampa as New York seeked to reduce their cap number.    Malcotents and under-achievers such as Robert Ayers and Chris Baker were released and the first round of the draft brought more reinforcements in the form of mammoth defensive tackle Vita Vea. The draft saw a deal with Buffalo that saw them move down five spots but pick up a pair of additional second round picks both used on cornerbacks.   All eight picks wound up making the final roster although the performances were mixed across the board.    Jameis Winston saw his Uber assault case dealt with by the NFL and he was suspended for the first three games of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick served as the starter through pre-season and then came out of the gates flying with three straight 400-yard passing games including upset victories in New Orleans and over Philadelphia as the Bucs began the year 2-0.   “Fitzmagic” was the story around the league and even a narrow Monday Night home loss to Pittsburgh could not derail the enthusiasm. Giving up six passing touchdowns to Mitch Trubisky in Chicago the following week did and the Tampa defense continued to get torched week after week leading to defensive co-ordinator Mike Smith being fired in October.   Winston returned as starter in Week 5 but saw his turn to get benched when he had a bunch of interceptions in a loss to Cincinnati.    Regular misses by new kicker Chandler Catanzaro did not help and he soon joined Smith out of a job by the second half of the season. Fan apathy led to thousands of empty seats at Raymond James Stadium in spite of offers of free tickets for existing season ticket holders and most games had way too many visiting fans taking up residence.  Wins over San Francisco and Carolina brought temporary respite but the year petered out with more turnovers and defensive lapses and the Bucs crawled their way to 5-11 and the fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft. Dirk Koetter was relieved of his duties as head coach within hours of the final loss to Atlanta although his final 19-29 mark ranked third all-time amongst Buccaneer coaches behind Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy.   A coaching search quickly took place and former Arizona Cardinals’ supremo Bruce Arians ended his one year exile from the game through ill health to become the 12th head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 9, 2019.
PLAYERS OUT DE Robert Ayers DT Chris Baker K Nick Folk OL Joe Hawley (Retired) RB Doug Martin CB Robert McClain DT Clinton McDonald (UFA - Den) K Patrick Murray G Kevin Pamphile (UFA - Ten) CB Josh Robinson DE Ryan Russell DT Sealver Siliga RB Charles Sims G JR Sweezy S Keith Tandy S TJ Ward
PLAYERS IN S Andrew Adams DT Beau Allen (UFA - PHI) K Chandler Catanzaro (UFA - ARI) DE Vinny Curry (UFA - PHI) CB Devante Harris (Waivers - NO) C Ryan Jensen (UFA - BAL) LB Kevin Minter DE Carl Nassib (Waivers - CLE) DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Trade - NYG) K Cairo Santos