Buccaneers Cut Pair of Running Backs as 53-Man Deadline Looms

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians

The Buccaneers have cut several players ahead of Saturday’s deadline to cut the roster down to 53 men.

Fresh off of signing Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay has cut bait with running back Raymond Calais, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.

Calais, who was selected with the 245th pick in the 2020 draft, was a long-shot to make the team, though the season-ending injury to T.J. Logan opened the door for him to make the club as a special teams contributor. The speedy scatback may have fared better if he had the ability to showcased his skills on the NFL level during the preseason. He was a favorite of Bruce Arians during camp, yet that was not enough to save him spot on the team.

Dare Ogunbowale, who is a pass-catching specialist, was also cut. The former Wisconsin Badger was the Bucs’ special teams captain last year and his role on that unit seemed to give him a leg up on staying with the team. However, he’ll now search for work elsewhere.

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Running Back Depth Chart

Ronald Jones is still the starter in Tampa Bay, despite Leonard Fournette’s presence. However, Jones’ touches, which were expected to be plentiful, will certainly take a hit now. Jones has been working on his pass-catching skills with Tom Brady, though he’s had some issues in the passing game so far in camp.  He netted 10.0 yards per catch on his 31 receptions in 2019 and PFF graded him just 73rd among all running backs in receiving. Football Outsiders views him more favorably, ranking him 17th in DVOA and 20th in DYAR among 50 qualifying backs.

Leonard Fournette will begin his career as the backup in Tampa Bay, though it’s only a matter of time before he ends up claiming a larger share of the offense. Fournette hasn’t been the most reliable back, having played in just 36 of a possible 48 games over the past three years. He’s accumulated 2631 rushing yards on 4.3 yards per carry. The 25-year-old has 17 touchdowns in his career.

LeSean McCoy was a significant factor early for the Chiefs last year, though his efficiency took a hit as the season progressed. McCoy averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2019, however, after week 8, he saw just 32 carries that netted 103 yards. Now, in Tampa Bay, his role isn’t certain, though even after the Fournette signing, he’s expected to have a place in the passing game.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn was selected with the No. 76 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft out of Vanderbilt where he had multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Vaughn appeared to be a lock to make the roster along with Ronald Jones III and likely LeSean McCoy.

Buccaneers Make Other Cuts

Tampa Bay has made other cuts, as Taylor Jenkins of Pewter Report relays. The team released cornerbacks Herb Miller and Mazzi Wilkins, defensive lineman Benning Potoa’e and linebackers Noah Dawkins and Chapelle Russell.

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