Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
As a part of that housecleaning, plenty of veteran Bucs have already been forced to pack their bags. Names such as Davin Joseph, Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah and Dekoda Watson will be on the backs of different-colored jerseys in 2014, but that doesn’t mean that all is safe for the veterans who currently remain on the roster.
Either by word or deed, here are five veteran Buccaneers who have been put on notice and should be looking over their shoulder this season.
DE Adrian Clayborn
The 20th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Adrian Clayborn has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that come with being a first-round pass-rusher.
Clayborn lost most of the 2012 season to a torn ACL, but even when he has been on the field, his production has been underwhelming. In 35 career games for the Bucs, the former Iowa Hawkeye has managed just 13.5 sacks and didn’t receive a very convincing vote of confidence from new head coach Lovie Smith.
The Bucs will reportedly not pick up the fifth-year option on Clayborn’s contract, making this a show-me year for the defensive end. He’ll get first crack at starting opposite the newly signed Michael Johnson, but he’ll have to flirt with double-digit sacks to have a decent chance at earning a second contract in Tampa Bay.
DE Da'Quan Bowers
However, even as a mid-second-round pick, Bowers has largely been a disappointment, failing to show the pass-rushing skills that made him such a dominant force at the college level. The Clemson product has made just eight starts in 39 career games for the Bucs, only sacking the quarterback 5.5 times.
New head coach Lovie Smith is optimistic about Bowers’ talent, but he says that it’s time for the fourth-year defender to prove it. With the knee issue still nagging, it’s going to be tough for Bowers to make a impact big enough to keep him around in 2014.
TE Luke Stocker
Looks like Mason Foster might be the only member of the Bucs’ 2011 draft class who isn’t in trouble.
A fourth-round pick out of Tennessee, Stocker has struggled with both injuries and consistency during his tenure in Tampa Bay. In 32 career games, Stocker has caught a mere 28 passes for 257 yards and a single touchdown. Stocker was placed on injured reserve with a nagging hip issue in 2013, ending his season just three games into the schedule.
The Bucs just spent a second-round pick on Austin Seferian-Jenkins and signed Brandon Myers as one of their first free agents this offseason. The team has already jettisoned Tom Crabtree, and considering the emergence of Tim Wright last season, Stocker faces an uphill climb to make the roster.
P Michael Koenen
The former Atlanta Falcon is still only halfway through that deal, and it's time to start wondering whether or not $3.25 million per year is worth paying a punter for 2013 and beyond.
Though Koenen has been solid as a kickoff specialist, the Bucs ranked 25th in the league in net punting last season. Considering Koenen's price tag, along with the fact that Tampa Bay brought in arguably this year's best rookie punter to minicamp, it wouldn't be shocking to see Koenen get the boot soon.
CB Danny Gorrer
Thanks to injuries, attrition and position changes, the Bucs have cycled through plenty of cornerbacks over the past two seasons.
Danny Gorrer has played plenty of meaningful snaps during that time, appearing in 13 games during his two years in Tampa Bay. Injuries and the eventual departure of Aqib Talib, as well as the moving of Ronde Barber to safety gave Gorrer plenty of opportunities to log solid playing time.
However, the Bucs have strengthened the corner position considerably in the last 12 months, drafting the promising Johnthan Banks in the second round last year, and adding free agents Alterraun Verner and Mike Jenkins in 2014. Despite the loss of Darrelle Revis, Gorrer finds himself hanging by a thread on the Bucs' depth chart, with Leonard Johnson likely ahead of him as well.
Barring injury, Gorrer looks like a long shot to make a significant impact this season and may not be a Buccaneer past 2014.