Curtain Calls & Shoves Out The Door

December 24th, 2018


When the Bucs trudge off the field Sunday afternoon, some players will know they’ll be back in 2019. Some will know they won’t be returning.

And a big chunk won’t be sure, either way.

Another brutal season is lurching toward its conclusion as Tampa Bay tries to avoid a second consecutive 5-11 finish. The players want to win Sunday, the coaches want to beat the Falcons, but there are understandably mixed feelings among Buc fans — perhaps even among the ownership group.

A loss would ensure a better draft position next April and we have already seen the potential damaging ramifications of a Week 17 victory. When the Bucs rallied past the Saints last year, it cost them a shot at Quenton Nelson, a rare difference-maker at guard.

All Nelson did this year was make the Pro Bowl as a rookie and set a nasty tone up front for the resurgent Colts.

So who’s coming back for sure in pewter next fall? Start with Mike Evans, Lavonte David, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ali Marpet and O.J. Howard. Add Ryan Jensen, Cameron Brate, Vita Vea, Carl Nassib and Chris Godwin.

Comeback campaign coming for LB Kendell Beckwtih

You would think Cairo Santos, Kendell Beckwith, Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead are good bets to return.

O.K., let’s talk about the former face of the franchise. Jameis Winston has a long way to go before joining the ranks of elite quarterbacks, but he’d be snapped up in a hurry if the Bucs let him hit free agency. That’s a fact.

This franchise has a lot of sweat equity invested in the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft and the Bucs stuck with Winston through his suspension. His teammates still believe in him, but he doesn’t win often enough to merit unwavering support.

Winston is 3-5 this season and 21-32 for his career. Those numbers should give the Glazers pause, but in the end I think Winston will be back under a new regime to give it one more shot.

Last Call

Which players are heading toward their final game in Tampa?

I’d start with DeSean Jackson and Brent Grimes, followed by Noah Spence, Chris Conte, Jacquizz Rodgers and Ryan Griffin. Others likely to be bidding farewell include Caleb Benenoch, Will Gholston and Ryan Smith.

Uncertainty For No. 93

Then we’ve got a large middle class, unsure of their status.

Potential free agents include Donovan Smith, Adam Humphries and Peyton Barber (restricted). Smith’s best asset is availability, but he’s an average left tackle looking for big money. Humphries knows how to get open and he’s sure-handed. The Bucs may have to overpay to keep him. With a better blocking line, I think Barber is a 1,000-yard runner.

Now it gets interesting.

What about Gerald McCoy? Six Pro Bowls, very active in the community, well respected among his peers. But after nine seasons toiling in Tampa without a postseason appearance, McCoy might be better off with a new work address. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Bucs move on without big No. 93.

Beau Allen and Vinny Curry could be released, along with Mitch Unrein. Vernon Hargreaves might be on the way out, along with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryan Anger, Justin Evans, Evan Smith, Adarius Taylor, M.J. Stewart and we hardly knew ye Ronald Jones.

McCoy might not be the only Buc stalwart jettisoned in the offseason.

Demar Dotson, the team’s longest-tenured player, faces an uncertain future and what about Kwon Alexander. coming off a major knee injury?

Alexander’s leverage as a pending free agent has been compromised.

It’s not far-fetched to think that David will be the only Buc left standing next fall from the group Jason Licht inherited when he assumed GM duties five years ago.

Sheesh. Talk about turnovers … columnist Ira Kaufman is in his 40th year covering the NFL. “The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports” is also a TV star, seen weekly on the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show, and on Bay News 9. Also, Ira goes national every Wednesday at 5 p.m. on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio with iconic host Chris Russo. The Ira Kaufman Podcast pops here every Tuesday and Thursday, and Ira fires away with Derrick Brooks on TAMPA TWO, a production of The Identity Tampa Bay and

54 Responses to “Curtain Calls & Shoves Out The Door”

  1. SteelStudBuc Says:

    It’s looking grim… all they need to change… is everything 😑

  2. LakeLand Says:

    So many holes to fill

    So many rivers to cross

  3. SteelStudBuc Says:

    What about these uniforms? Get some self respect going on here… bring back the glory days 2000’s uniforms with the new logo still… this team has the style of a Pontiac. 👎👎

  4. AlteredEgo Says:

    That article is suicide provoking

  5. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    The first change better be the head coach and GM!

  6. AlteredEgo Says:

    I am more fearful of the Glazers coach/GM search than I am of keeping L&K….

  7. Trench War Says:

    Tampa Bay = NFL’s favorite farm team.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    We need to lose this game
    We are 4 good drafts away from being average

  9. Bucamania Says:

    Kwon needs to stay. Hump and Barber too.

  10. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Between Gerald McCoy, Brent. Grimes and Javeon Elliot, it can be argued that the Bucs play with 8 players on defense.

  11. gofortheface30 Says:

    Cairo Santos is a good bet to return? lol ok?

  12. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Ronald Jones is a potential 1,000 yard rusher but only with 1,000 carries.

  13. Ndog Says:

    A new coaching staff with this roster could easily go 10-6

  14. AlteredEgo Says:

    A new quarterback with this roster could easily go 11-5

  15. LakeLand Says:


    The Bucs are playing in the WORST division in the NFL

    Anything is possible in the NFC Weak South

  16. Bucsfanman Says:

    Frankly, it would be the best thing for this team to clean house.

  17. Kobe Faker Says:

    “There are 3 individuals in the media that are phonecall away from Team Glazer

    Ira Kaufman and Peterreport Scott Reynolds…

    Both are now backtracking their assessment that Gump will be fired but instead will be back as 2019 GM.

    Kobe Faker is steadfast in his opinion that we need a new GM

    Jason Gump stays, Kobe Faker goes

    7 days, 11 hours and change”

    Kobe Faker

  18. AlteredEgo Says:

    Bucsfanman Says:
    December 24th, 2018 at 1:22 pm
    Frankly, it would be the best thing for this team to clean house.

    a new QB and tighten up the defense and this team is on the cusp of great things….we saw what Koetter offense can do this year with a QB that can play without turning the ball over….

  19. OneBucPerson Says:

    I’d love to bring back Gerald if he agrees to take a paycheck, if not then I think our only reasonable option would be to cut/trade him. His play just doesn’t warrant 10+ million a year.

  20. AlteredEgo Says:

    Kobe…”IF” a move is made GM would be it…one more year with Jamyth to be absolutely certain he is or isn’t ,Koetter stays for continuity …
    then in 2020 new HC of the GM picking and QB…the new GM may as insurance ,my strategy, take a QB high next draft and a least have a year under his belt when Jamyth is gone in 2020….

  21. Jason S. Mclaurin Says:

    The defense should stay together for a while and I’m talking LVD, JPP, GMC, R. Smith, VH3, and even Spence. I would love to B. Allen back but Curry, Conte, and Gholston are gone for sure along with Grimes. That will be about $25 million in cap freed up off top with no penalty. As as Kwon Alexander I say bring him back because I think he can stay healthy under Duffner, but they should draft or sign another LB in free agency. No need to draft any DB but we definitely should draft more defensive ends and at least look for another big hole clogging DY in the first three rounds. Overall on defense keep the coaching staff together and continue the roster turnover.
    On offense we should cut ties with D. Smith, C. Beneoch, D. Dotson, C. Brate, P. Barber, A. Humphries, and go after Amari Cooper a real threat and game changer. Keep Winston as well. They do a great job scouting for guys off the street on the oline but they need to find a better coach for the oline as well. Receiver is no worry but using some of that $30 that will be cleared with those departures would give us $60 mil in cap and it would not be irresponsible to use some of that going after a game breaker. Trade Godwin if we make that move and look for a real speedy receiver late in the draft if we can land Cooper. There’s plenty of offensive line on this team just guys out of position in the trenches but a power running back needs to be drafted early.

  22. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    Sounds like someine has no clue how to build a football team and should be first to go

  23. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    jason i thought Bonzai was way out there with his rants but dang buddy thats the best “hold my beer” i have heard. Cheers!!!

  24. tmaxcon Says:

    Jason S. Mclaurin Says:

    damn dude, you need help…. maybe Santa will bring you some standards for xmas… Only keeper on that entire defense is jpp…. lvd is overrated and has 3 good games a year, cancer93 is a washed up bum who stole 100 million dollars while producing nothing and sucking the life out of all he came into contact with… you do realize you want to keep all the key players off ONE OF THE MOST EMBARASSING DEFENSIVE UNITS IN NFL HISTORY. Not just this year but for the better part of a decade cancer93 and lvd have captained more blowouts than any captains in team and probably league history. yeah let’s bring the crap back to the manure factory. no sense in trying to turn the manure factory into a nfl team by riding itself of these career losing heartless bums.. damn bucfan loves crappy players.

  25. ed Says:

    Unbelievable if this GM/HC combo remain here. There has been no improvement in w/l column, player development or fan excitement. Other than a bunch of passing yardage it’s the same old song.

    Trying to be a spin doctor and find positives on the team is difficult. There are just a few players on this team that have shown improvement and 2 of them were not on the team before- JPP and Nassib. Before injury OJ Howard was on the rise. Mike Evans, LVD, Adam Humphries have been consistently good.

    Who else has shown that they could start for a contending playoff team. That’s 6 players you can say are better than average. Most teams have 10-12 players that are good or very good. Sorry but it’s Licht’s picks and it isn’t pretty.

  26. DRFEELGOOD Says:

    I don’t think we need a complete personnel overhaul. We need coaching that isn’t stubborn in the worst ways. If Dirk wasn’t so stubborn about his love of Mike Smith, where might we be? I like Peyton Barber, but what other HC in the NFL would give a second round RB 23 f&cking carries!! 23!!! Ronald Jones was never given a chance to do anything!! He stubbornly kept playing Benenoch even though he’s awful. He stubbornly didn’t put Desean Jackson on punt returns even after he took one to the house in week 3!!! We need to load up on OL, DL, and secondary in this draft and a good HC can take this team somewhere. Merry Christmas and GO BUCS!! Be safe out there this holiday season Buc fans!!

  27. Mike Johnson Says:

    Kick Koetter out of the house right Buc players..Beat the Falcons!
    And Glazers please..hire a great football consultant to assist you with new GM and HC selections…PLEASE!!! Knowin Licht though, he’s probably already thrown Koetter to the wolves in hopes of savin his own A..

  28. DRFEELGOOD Says:

    We don’t need a complete personnel overhaul. We need a HC that’s not so damned stubborn. He stubbornly kept Mike Smith, he stubbornly kept starting average Peyton Barber and never gave Ronald Jones a chance!!! He has 23 carries on the year!! 23!!! He stubbornly didn’t keep using DJax on punt returns even though he took one to the house in week 3!!! He stubbornly kept playing Benenoch even though he’s awful!! A smart HC could do a lot with this team if they load up on OL, DL, and DBs in this draft. Go Bucs!!marry Christmas to all Bucs fans, Joes, and everyone be safe this holiday season.

  29. jb Says:

    It sure looks like we’re further from the playoffs than we were 2 seasons ago! Talk about second round busts. Licht should be ashamed of himself!!

  30. Jonathan Lipnicki Says:

    I took a ton of flack for declaring Beckwith out for the year if not Buccaneer career. I’d say 50/50 at best he returns. LBs with shattered ankles/legs rarely return better than before if at all.

  31. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We must keep our younger players who have great passion and desire to win…players like Hump, Barber, Kwon…….

    And much will depend on the price…..also, if Licht stays he will be very reluctant to cut his losses like Spence & Rojo…..I call it “draft ego”……when you select a player you tend to hang on too long if they are mistakes.
    I think this is what has happened to Benenoch……VH3 might be in that category but he showed signs of improvement before injury.

  32. Buccfan37 Says:

    Ed said it best in his last sentence. “Sorry but it’s Licht’s picks and it isn’t pretty.” The Glazers should put that quote up high outside the stadium where much of the blame for a lousy season lays at the feet of the picker.

  33. Jim Says:

    Predictions are not facts…

  34. BrianBucs Says:

    Glazers need to blow the whole thing up and start all over. The team is bad and not getting any better. And the same can be said for Winston.

  35. Defense Rules Says:

    Excellent ‘think-piece’ Ira … thanks. I wasn’t in the Quentin Nelson camp last year, but after seeing how miserably our OLine performed this year with Benenoch in there, I’d gladly have picked Nelson in the first rnd. Still, I think Vea is a keeper & those extra picks we got by moving down should help more in the future than they did this year.

    Not so sure about some of the other players you listed either. Santos doesn’t have enough leg; he’ll be replaced. Ryan Smith, Anger, Evans, Taylor, Evan Smith & Griffin will very likely all be retained for one more year (their costs are reasonable and we just can’t replace EVERYONE, although that may be our best bet). Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see us keep Allen, Curry & Gholston for another year (although Gholston’s contract will surely be renegotiated if he stays).

    Personally I’d release Unrein, RoJo, Spence, MJ Stewart & Benenoch the day the season ends, but would keep Dotson until & unless I found someone better. Kwon & Bechwith are two huge mysteries to me right now (they are BOTH on IR with significant leg injuries after all). Personally like GMC but not $13 mil worth of like. In the range of $7-$8 mil I’d keep him for another year. Would also keep VHIII even though he’s injured too (cheap contract & a new coaching staff may be able to resurrect him).

  36. Ndog Says:

    AlteredEgo Says:
    December 24th, 2018 at 1:10 pm
    A new quarterback with this roster could easily go 11-5

    Did you sleep threw the Giants game, the Redskins game, the first Panthers game, and the Pittsburgh game when we had a different QB starting and lost to what will be all non playoff teams?

  37. MHBuc25 Says:

    You forgot Jameis Winston IRA. Ooops.

  38. MHBuc25 Says:

    Winston gets coaches fired faster than Kellogg’s makes Corn Flakes and Ira is toeing that line.

  39. bucsince79 aka Bumaneer Says:

    2019 New year new coach new hope … At least we get a top 10 pick every year LOL

  40. Troy Says:

    Ira – I want Winston back next year, but with that said, I challenge you to name one team that would pick him up and make him their starter. There isn’t one. Not even Jacksonville would name him their starter. He’s a project who’d have to take a huge pay cut to play somewhere else. Backups don’t make 21 million dollars a year.

  41. Pewter Pirates Says:

    Why would Justin Evans be released? He is coming off an I just plagued year but he has proven he can play and was a 2nd round pick in 2017. Makes no sense.

  42. tbbucs3 Says:


    Easy. These teams.would gladly make Winston their starter. And he could compete for other teams as well.

    New York Giants

  43. tbbucs3 Says:

    “Not even Jacksonville would name him their starter”

    That’s an absurd statement. But I’m assure Jacksonville would rather have Cody Kessler’s 10-16 for 36 yards 0 TDs 0 ints.

  44. jay adams Says:

    JW might very well play for those 7 teams but none of them have an Elite QB either.

    Eli was an Elite QB years ago.
    A.Dalton was Elite for maybe a year or 2, but no longer.

    So replacing Mediocrity with Mediocrity does little for those other teams except for just bringing in a new guy.

    The problem with all those teams is they all have many holes to fill just like the Bucs do. The Fins and Jags are both so close as Jacksonville showed last year they can be a Playoff team.

  45. Joe In Michigan Says:

    I’d keep Justin Evans, for sure. Move MJ Stewart to safety and see if he’s good there.

  46. D1QB Says:


    A quick comparison of 4yr career stats.

    Career season passing yds avg./// TD v INT//—-career TD-INT-fumbles
    Player 1..3486 //// 20.75 v 14.25// ……………………….83-57-16
    Player 2..3865////21.75 v 13.5 ///………………………… 87-54-12
    Player 3…3648/// 23 v. 14.25///……………………………92-57-19

    Player 1 Jameis Winston
    Player 2 Ryan Tannehill
    Player 3 Blake Bortles.

    Note. RT stats are first 4yrs.(Last 2 seasons 1missed, 1 partial)
    BB stats last 4yrs.

    Note.. Both player 2-3 are considered busts and not likely to return
    neither is considered a character risk or has off field issues.
    Note.. Both 2-3 are 20mil a yr contracts.

    *** stats don’t include last game.

  47. Steven Levy Says:

    Justin Evans? Put down the crack pipe IRA…

  48. lambchop Says:

    LOL @ Jason for suggesting we let go of so many players to “go after Amari Cooper”. First, ANOTHER WR? Really, that’s the position of need? What are we, the Detroit Lions under Matt Millen?

    Second, Amari Cooper is going to leave America’s Team to play for America’s dumpster fire?

    My God, get a hold of yourself.

  49. lambchop Says:


    Buffalo, Arizona? Did you not watch the draft last year? They have invested in their starters.

    Cinci and Miami? I think they’ve going to hold on to the QBs they have. They’re not any worse than Jameis.

    Jags, Denver, Giants are more probable.

  50. Matts17 Says:

    Bucs should look at trading Winston. Perhaps Jacksonville would be interested. Bucs need draft picks.

  51. SteelStudBuc Says:

    Doug Martin ran for 107 yards tonight

  52. tmaxcon Says:

    SteelStudBuc Says:
    December 24th, 2018 at 11:40 pm
    Doug Martin ran for 107 yards tonight

    He was always good at putting up meaningless yards on a basement dwelling team. Guy is a loser whoes best highlights will be his drug relapses

  53. John B Says:

    My list of must goes

    Achilles heel
    Wall Johnson
    Stuck in the mud Stewart
    Evan Smith

    Time to add more speed and aggression to the roster, quit reaching and take the talent right in front of you

    JL and DK have to go, neither will hold the other truly accountable

  54. Tom S. Says:

    Stewart and RoJo will make it to camp next year and if they can’t cut it they’ll be released on cut down day. Having 2 second round picks get cut after their second preseason in the same year is quite the indictment on how bad the GM is at evaluating talent.

    I assume Noah Spence will also have one more off-season to turn it around. Bottom line, a lot of high second rounds picks have the potential to be walking the plank which means a lot of opportunity lost.