PRE-SEASON GAMES 11 Aug v Pittsburgh Lost 17-27 19 Aug at NY Jets 26 Aug v Baltimore
2023 Season Review The retirement of Tom Brady was actually a welcome one for the Buccaneers after the offensive struggles during the 2022 season and offensive co-ordinator Byron Leftwich paid the price by going with him out of the door at One Buc Place. Dave Canales arrived from Seattle to replace him having served on their staff for over a decade albeit without ever having called plays. The quarterback position finally looked to be in the hands of Kyle Trask after two seasons of sitting watching from the bench but Baker Mayfield arrived during the off-season trying to rejuvinate his career after being with three franchises in two seasons. He won the starting job in training camp and went on to have the best season of his career. $81M of the $223M of the 2023 salary cap went on dead contracts, paying off the credit card bill from the previous seasons led by the $35M hit for Tom Brady. This led to less activity in free agency and a forced need to get younger and less experienced across the roster. This led to no less than 10 undrafted free agents making the roster with three of them, Christian Izien, Kaevon Merriweater and Mike Greene starting games on the defense. The draft saw the first round pick used on the defensive line for the third straight year and Calijah Kancey’s performance made his selection look an excellent one in hindsight. Throw in a full season starter on the offensive line in Cody Mauch and the impact that third round pick Yaya Diaby had during 2023 and the draft can be seen as a success after its first season. The sheer list of veteran players going out of the door was bigger than any other season in franchise history and most pundits had the Bucs down to finish in the basement in the NFC South with some even predicting the worst record in the NFL. An opening day road victory in Minnesota was a surprise as was the Week 4 win in New Orleans and the Bucs found themselves leading the division at 3-1. Six defeats in seven games followed and at 4-7, both Bowles and Mayfield found themselves facing questions about their future in Tampa Bay if the losing run continued. But it turned around and the victories in Green Bay and Atlanta together with the home victory over Jacksonville saw the Bucs return to the top of the division and the playoff clinching road shutout in Carolina saw Tampa Bay win the NFC South title for the third time in a row. This earned them a home Wild Card date with a slumping Philadelphia Eagles team that was comfortably handled before the season came to an end the following week in Detroit. The surprising seasons from Mayfield, kicker Chase McLaughlin who had the best season in team history and the emergence of the top three draft picks proved so many people wrong about the 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The throwback jerseys returned for a game, the memory of Tom Brady was put to bed and the season was seen as an overall success.
PLAYERS OUT LB Genard Avery (UFA - Indianapolis) RB Giovani Bernard (Retired) QB Tom Brady (Retired) TE Cameron Brate (Retired) S Mike Edwards (UFA - Kansas City) RB Leonard Fournette QB Blaine Gabbert (UFA - Kansas City) WR Kaylon Geiger DL Akiem Hicks WR Julio Jones G Shaq Mason (Trade - Houston) WR Scotty Miller (UFA - Atlanta) G John Molchon CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (UFA - Tenn) DL Carl Nassib (Retired) S Keanu Neal (UFA - Pittsburgh) DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches (UFA - NYG) WR Breshad Perriman TE Kyle Rudolph S Logan Ryan T Donovan Smith (UFA - Kansas City) K Ryan Succop S Nolan Turner T Josh Wells - (UFA Jacksonville)
PLAYERS IN RB Chase Edmonds (UFA - Arizona) G Matt Feiler (UFA - LA Rams) DL Greg Gaines (UFA - LA Rams) DL Mike Greene CB Keenan Isaac S Christian Izien WR Rakim Jarrett QB Baker Mayfield (UFA - LA Rams) K Chase McLaughlin (UFA - Indianapolis) S Kaevon Merriweather WR David Moore (UFA - Seattle) S Ryan Neal (UFA - Seattle) CB Derrek Pitts RB Sean Tucker LB Markees Watts QB John Wolford (UFA - LA Rams)