Bucs Could Regret Key Roster Move, Insider Says

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop provided the team with three years of stability not seen since kicker Martin Gramatica in the early 2000s.

The Bucs could “regret letting Succop go in the end” according to  Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds. Succop finished his stint with the Bucs as the all-time leader in field goal percentage, but the Bucs released him on Wednesday, March 22, due to salary cap constraints. The Bucs saved $3.75 million in salary cap space on a tight budget, $4.28 million under the cap, per Spotrac.

Reynolds noted that the Bucs haven’t fared well with selecting kickers, except for Succop, during general manager Jason Licht’s tenure. Yet, the Bucs will risk history repeating itself at kicker again.

Ryan Succop wins it in OT! #TBvsAZ | #GoBucs pic.twitter.com/dz0OcHCR5N

— NFL (@NFL) December 26, 2022

“So now Licht will embark on finding Tampa Bay’s 10th kicker in the 10th year of him serving as the Bucs general manager,” Reynolds wrote. “Here is the chronological order of Tampa Bay’s kickers during Licht’s tenure: Pat Murray [2014], Kyle Brindza [2015], Connor Barth [2015], Roberto Aguayo [2016], Nick Folk [2017] followed by Murray [2017] again, Chandler Catanzaro [2018] and Cairo Santos [2018] and Matt Gay [2019] followed by Succop.”

“That’s nine kickers in the first seven years before Succop’s three seasons with the Bucs,” Reynolds added. “That’s not the definition of ‘not good’. That’s the definition of ‘horrific’ when it comes to the Bucs’ track record of finding an accurate leg.”

Bucs Haven’t Drafted Kickers Well Under Licht

While the Bucs could sign a free agent kicker, the draft provides a more affordable option amid the risks of repeating similar mistakes under Licht. The Bucs didn’t fare well with the two previous drafted kickers in the past 10 years as Reynolds noted, and the Bucs signed Succop as a free agent in 2020.

Tampa Bay drafted Aguayo in 2016 followed by Gay in 2019. Both struggled with the Bucs, but their careers took widely different directions in the end.

“Aguyao was easily Licht’s worst-ever draft pick,” Reynolds wrote. “He lasted just one season in Tampa Bay after connecting on only 71% [22-of-43] of his field goals and just 94.1% [32-of-34] of his extra points. Aguayo quickly flamed out of the NFL.”

Gay struggled worse on field goals than Aguayo at 89.6%, but Gay  eventually made the Bucs pay for letting him go in 2020. He hit a game-winning field goal with the Los Angeles Rams in 2022 to beat the Bucs 30-27 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Matt Gay deserves so much credit. He launched the Rams into the NFC championship with the Kick in Tampa Bay, then he proved CLUTCH against SF to give the Rams the lead with under 2 minutes left in the 4th qrt. Arguably, Gay had the best year in Rams franchise history as a Kicker pic.twitter.com/SExY6GRpn8

— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) April 11, 2022

“Last year, Gay proved he had become a very accurate kicker [with the Rams], hitting 93.3% of his field goals and 96.9% of his extra points,” Reynolds wrote. “That earned Gay a big contract extension with Los Angeles, making him the highest-paid kicker in NFL history. Gay signed a four-year, $22.5 million extension with the Rams.”

Reynolds Acknowledges ‘Some Logic’ to Drafting Kickers

If the Bucs don’t find a kicker in free agency, it will come down to the draft, signing an undrafted free agent, or rolling with Jake Verity — the only kicker on the Bucs roster. While Reynolds acknowledged the recent past failures of drafting kickers, he recognizes the necessity of taking that risk.

“There was some logic in Licht’s thought process when it came to drafting,” Reynolds wrote. “Kickers score more points than any other position for every team every year. It’s a very important position to get right and find stability with. Playoff teams rarely have shaky kickers.”

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