Tampa Bay Buccaneers part ways with three former starters in initial cuts

Major Wright started nine games in two seasons with the Buccaneers. Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made two cuts official on Tuesday -- wide receiver Donteea Dye (waived/injured) and offensive lineman Joel Hale -- in addition to the 12 cuts made Sunday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 75 players.

Here’s a closer look at the first cuts:

Most significant move: The most significant, albeit unsurprising, move was releasing veteran safety Major Wright, who started nine games in two seasons with Tampa Bay and 51 games in his six-year career. "Major’s [a] guy we hated to say goodbye [to]," coach Dirk Koetter said. "Major’s played a lot of good football here, played a lot of good football in his career, but we’re probably only going to keep four safeties unless something crazy happens."

The writing was on the wall though. Wright might have been listed second on the preseason depth chart, but he was outplayed in minicamp and in training camp. Keith Tandy has continued to make a ton of plays downfield in practice. Rookie Isaiah Johnson intercepted Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in the second preseason game, and rookie Ryan Smith, who can also return kicks, has gotten more and more reps with the second-team defense.

Who will return kicks? Without wide receiver/kick returner Donteea Dye, who started five games last year and will need about four weeks to heal from a hamstring strain if the team chooses to bring him back, the Bucs now have Bernard Reedy, Jonathan Krause, Kenny Bell and Ryan Smith as options for kick returns. Wide receiver Bell, who fumbled the opening kickoff against the Eagles, might get an opportunity to stick around with Dye's departure. Bell got off to a hot start in training camp but fizzled when the pads went on. Johnson is another option because he can return kicks and punts.

Anger wins punt job: With last year's punter Jacob Schum gone, Bryan Anger will be the team's new starter. Anger averaged 44.1 net yards per punt this preseason -- fourth in the NFL, while Schum had a net average of 39.5. "It was a very close battle," Koetter said. "Both Bryan and Jake punted well. Bryan just did a little bit better in the game situations."

Bucs moves: DT Travis Britz, CB Daniel Davie, WR Andre Davis, WR/KR Donteea Dye, T Taylor Fallin, LB Jeremiah George, OL Joel Hale, DE Martin Ifedi, RB Storm Johnson, DT Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, S Kimario McFadden, P Jacob Schum, TE Tevin Westbrook