Todd Bowles: Choosing Edge Rushers To Keep Will Be Tough

August 10th, 2023


If Joe asked a casual Bucs fan where the team is deep, the fan might say receiver or cornerback. Maybe safety.

It would be a surprise if the fan said, “outside linebacker.”

This just in: The Bucs were miserable getting sacks from their edge rush. So claiming this is a deep position is, well, rich.

But that’s sort of what Bowles said yesterday after practice — twice. Bowles was asked which position group will have the toughest decisions on Cut Day, when all NFL teams must carve their rosters down from 90 to 53.

Bowles didn’t blink.

“Primarily at outside linebacker,” Bowles told local media.

He got a little more detailed on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

“In the outside linebacker room, every one of them can play and that’s hard because there’s about eight of them. And every one of them can play. From top to bottom, that will probably be the hardest position. There’s good competition for the backup wide receiver positions. There’s great competition in the running backs room. Not the third [cornerback], but the fourth, fifth and possibly sixth corner [competition] is very tough … some underused linemen that are very good on the offensive side of the football. So it’s going to be very tough.”

Last year the Bucs kept four outside linebackers on their initial cutdown to 53, though rosters often change quickly after Cut Day as teams cherry-pick other teams’ lost leftovers.

Bowles admitted he’s not sure how many outside linebackers he will keep.

“We’ll measure it against other positions and see who comes in the matter of importance and we’ll go from there,” Bowles said.

And of course, special teams is a major factor. If you are a backup and you can’t play special teams, you are a dead man walking.

So if the Bucs keep four, that likely would be Shaq Barrett, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Anthony Nelson and YaYa Diaby. If the Bucs keep five, the fifth spot will likely be Cam Gill or sixth-round pick José Ramirez. Both would be wise to make splash plays in preseason.

26 Responses to “Todd Bowles: Choosing Edge Rushers To Keep Will Be Tough”

  1. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Joe, I can’t imagine the Bucs cut Jose Ramirez. If so, another team would pick him up in a hurry.

  2. ATLBuc Says:

    Very interesting! Difficult cuts for a team tanking for Caleb

  3. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    I think we can probably name 40 players that we know for sure will make the team. So maybe 13 positions are truly up for grabs? Maybe more if we add taxi squad players. I haven’t gone through the list but some enterprising out-of-work GM on here probably has and can give us a more exact figure.

  4. Marine Buc Says:

    Several factors will determine which OLBs make the 53.

    – Which OLB is better at playing special teams?
    – Who can stay healthy? (Cam Gill has injury issues)
    – How many OLBs do we keep? (4 or 5)

    I believe Cam Gill will be on the outside looking in unless he blows up in the preseason games or someone else gets injured.

    We will probably keep 5 OLBs – especially with Shaq returning from that blown AH…

  5. Tap-Out Says:

    Anthony Nelson does not make this team.

  6. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Tap-Out

    I highly doubt our GM would cut a player who has been a Buc and developing for 4 seasons and is owed $5.5M of guaranteed salary cap dollars…

  7. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Tap out. Nelson has just as many sacks as JTS with a lot less snap counts. I think he makes it over Jose and cam but can did show some promise last year and has flashes at least 1 time I know of during TC. With saq still coming back from that injury they should prob keep a extra OLB

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    Defense will most likely keep 25 players to start the season. If I had to guess, it’ll be:

    o 6 DT/DE (Vea, Gaines, Gholston, Hall, Kancey +1)
    o 6 OLB (Shaq, JTS, Nelson, Diaby, Ramirez, Gill)
    o 4 ILB (LVD, White, Dennis +1)
    o 5 CB (Davis, Dean, Delaney, McCollum +1)
    o 4 S (Winfield, Neal +2)

    I know that 6 DT/DE sounds high, but with Kancey’s situation, Bowles will hedge his bets for now & carry 1 extra DT/DE until he sees that Kancey is back to 100% (my guess is that the 6th will either be O’Connor or Senat).

    And I think that we’ll carry 6 OLBs just to protect Ramirez & Gill for now. One of them will break out during the season & be a keeper, and the other will either be released or end up on the PS.

    The biggest questions in my mind are the depth players at ILB, CB & Safety. I’m not sold on Britt, but I don’t know that anyone else is better. Hayes, Chesley & Isaac sound like they’ve had a decent preseason thus far, but they’re still total unknowns IMO. And our Safety depth has me befuddled. Really hoping that we re-sign Logan Ryan before the season starts.

  9. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    @Defense Rules

    I do not see how the Bucs could possible keep 6 OLB when you only have 2 on the field at a time. You have the Bucs only keeping 5 CB, a position which usually has 3-4 guys out there, and we almost always have injury issues at that position. I expect the Bucs keep 5 OLB (Shaq, JTS, Nelson, Diaby, Ramirez) and 6 CB (Davis, Dean, McCollum, Delaney, Hayes, +1). I could be wrong. From what I’ve heard of camp, Markees Watts the UDFA OLB will likely make the practice squad. Cam Gill is probably a goner.

  10. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    “my guess is that the 6th will either be O’Connor or Senat”

    Probably O’Connor – he is a contributor on Special Teams – plus – he looks like he put on a little size this off season… He is also pretty effective at rushing the passer from the inside.

  11. J Ghotier Says:

    They will keep 5 for the reasons that it’s already admittedly the toughest position group for cuts as Bowles stated, but also….

    Shaq and the Achilles insurance. I think they would go 6 over 4, but 5 is the most probable number of OLB’s kept after cuts. They may keep 6 because of the depth, Shaq, need more pass rush from OLB’s from last year and difficult cut decisions. OLB’s are great for ST’s too.

    Remember the Ravens kept more O-Lineman last year because of similar reasons!

  12. PSL Bob Says:

    A poor pass rash and a deep outside linebacker position are not necessarily mutually exclusive. If all 6 are mediocre, it may be tough to decide who’s the worst of the mediocre players in the room

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    Jeebs … in a ‘normal’ year, I’d agree with you 100% (typically keep 6 CB & 4 Safety, or 5 & 5, with at least 1 being able to play CB AND S like Logan Ryan can do). I just don’t think we have the talent to warrant keeping a bunch of guys to develop in the Secondary.

    Quite frankly, I’m not even impressed with Delaney & McCollum at this point, and I have no clue who the 3rd & 4th Safeties will be. That’s a main reason why I was so surprised to see us lose Edwards AND SMB as well as Ryan. Left us with very little experienced depth.

    Don’t know all that much about Ramirez yet, but Gill has intrigued me for the 3 years he’s been a Buc. Poor guy just can’t seem to stay healthy, but when he is out there, he makes some plays. Admittedly though, we’ll be down to 5 OLBs pretty early in the season as defensive guys get injured and depth players need be brought up. I just get this feeling that we’ll start off heavy up-front (DT/DEs & OLBs) so that Bowles can see what we’ve REALLY got when the bullets start flying, then pare it down after the first few games. Just to let you know though, I’ve been wrong before; just ask my wife.

  14. Rod Munch Says:

    I thought Cam Gill was an inside LB.

  15. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Rod

    No. But he is the same size as Devin White.

    It would be great if he could play both ILB and OLB plus Special Teams – then he would probably make the 53… If he stays healthy.

  16. Lou. Says:

    @Joe —

    What is the word on former FA rookie lb Jeremy Banks? He was signed out of Tennessee with high hopes. He was cut right before camp under a cloud, whIIRC the Joes hinted about but never really explained. What happened? Why has no one picked him up? Does he have any prospects in the League? Did he show talent, or were off-field or locker room issues just too bad to deal with?

  17. Rod Munch Says:

    Marine Buc – I always seem to remember him rushing from inside – but I’m just going by memory. He’s a fast guy, gets good production when he’s healthy, they should keep him around if possible. Regardless of position, I know I’d much rather keep him over Britt, who is too slow to play in the NFL.

  18. SlyPirate Says:

    Cam Gill

    I was pro-Gill for two years. Time and time again I’d predict, “He’s the next Shaq!” Then … nada. Time to make room for someone else. Jose Ramirez step right up.

  19. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Rod

    “Britt, who is too slow to play in the NFL.”

    I agree.

    Cam had a half sack in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs.

    So – YES – when healthy and given the chance the dude can ball…

  20. Pickgrin Says:

    6 DT/DE (Vea, Gaines, Gholston, Hall, Kancey, O’Conner)
    5 OLB (Shaq, JTS, Nelson, Diaby, Ramirez)
    4 ILB (LVD, White, Dennis, Britt)
    5 CB (Davis, Dean, Delaney, McCollum +1)
    5 S (Winfield, Neal, Izien*, Merriweather, +1 Hayes or Turner)

    * Izien is starting Nickle back

  21. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Pick

    That sounds about right to me…

    Of course preseason injuries and Special Teams will also play a role in deciding who makes the 53…

  22. unbelievable Says:

    I think they HAVE to keep at least 5

    JTS still has shown nothing, and we still haven’t seen Shaq play in full contact…

    Gotta have some backup options, don’t be dumb Jason / Todd !

  23. Destinjohnny Says:

    JTS is our best outside pass rusher
    How hard can the cut down be?

  24. Defense Rules Says:

    Pickgrin … You’re most likely right on with that 25-man defense. Gill’s had some really bad luck I guess, and unless he really shows something that they’ve gotta have, he probably wouldn’t make the final 53.

    From Joe’s write-ups, Izien sounds like he’s the probable starting nickel, but I’m still holding out hope that we re-sign Ryan.

  25. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    “Izien sounds like he’s the probable starting nickel, but I’m still holding out hope that we re-sign Ryan.”

    I don’t completely disagree with you on this one – but – there is one thing our GM has developed an aversion to is cutting draft picks…

    Yes – it happens from time to time. But unless Hayes totally dukies in the bed he will be somewhere in the mix – NCB/FS/SS.

    However – Izean does seem like a promising prospect.

    I am a bit disappointed in Z.M. – I thought he would rise up but sometimes athletic ability does not equal awesome football player.

  26. garro Says:

    We have one proven edge rusher. He is coming off of a major injury at 30. We have not seen anything special yet from any of the others accept maybe Nelson.
    The party is just starting. Give Diaby and Ramirez plenty of snaps. May the best man win. Sit JTS and maybe a fire will be lit.

    Go Bucs!