TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that 22 players were officially cut Saturday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final cuts:
Most significant move: The Bucs parted ways with wide receiver Kenny Bell, a fifth-round draft pick from 2015 who spent all of last year on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Instead, they kept Evan Spencer, who spent most of the 2015 season on the practice squad. Bell had a strong start to camp but fizzled when the pads came on and didn't show enough under the lights. Spencer dealt with a knee injury and missed the third preseason game, but was the only receiver in Wednesday night's game who managed to catch every pass thrown his way in a constant downpour (Spencer had three catches for 27 receiving yards).
"It means a lot," Spencer said upon learning he made the final cut. He suffered a concussion with the Redskins last year and was waived/injured during final cuts. He signed with the Bucs practice squad in September of 2015. "It's definitely been a journey, but I'd like to believe all really successful people in the NFL, they've gone through something. And me -- I went through it early. And hopefully I learned my lessons and things I needed to get better at ... I had a good camp, I'd like to say that I did what I needed to do in the preseason. Basically I went out and gave it everything I had every snap and tried to show everyone here that I'm worthy of staying on the team."
Most significant non-move: The team kept cornerback Johnthan Banks, a former starter and second-round draft pick who appeared to be in jeopardy of not making the team. When the Bucs' first unofficial depth chart of the preseason came out, Banks was listed third, behind Jude Adjei-Barimah. Banks was one of the better defensive performers in Wednesday's fourth preseason game, finishing with three combined tackles and a pass breakup. Another cornerback whom he looked to be in competition with throughout camp, Josh Robinson, also made the cut, giving the Bucs six cornerbacks.
Four UDFAs make cut: Four undrafted rookies made the Bucs' 53-man roster -- tight end Alan Cross, defensive end Channing Ward, defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert and offensive tackle Leonard Wester. Cross, who previously walked on at Memphis, beat out sixth-round draft pick Danny Vitale for the fifth tight end spot. "I got the call from Tampa to do the free-agent thing and I was like, 'All right, this is basically like you’re starting all over at Memphis again,' so I just had the same approach, just come in here, just try to do the best I can and just hope for the rest," Cross said after learning he'd made the team. He had 1,050 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in four years at Memphis, setting the school record for most touchdowns by a tight end.
The final five: The Bucs opted to keep just five linebackers, with Luke Rhodes, an undrafted free agent out of William & Mary, who had consistently lined up as the backup middle linebacker, missing the cut. The team will go with starters Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and Daryl Smith, with Devante Bond and Adarius Glanton as the backups. Considering Smith was out for two weeks with an undisclosed injury and Bond is still recovering from a minor hamstring injury, they're a little thin there.
Bucs moves: OL Josh Allen, LB Micah Awe, RB Peyton Barber, DE Kourtnei Brown, CB Javien Elliott, DT A.J. Francis, LB Jeremiah George, C Ben Gottschalk, RB Russell Hansbrough, S Isaiah Johnson, T Kyler Kerbyson, LB Josh Keyes, WR Jonathan Krause, WR Freddie Martino, S Kimario McFadden, OL Kelvin Palmer, LB Luke Rhodes, TE Danny Vitale, DT Cliff Matthews (released), WR Kenny Bell (waived/injured), TE Kivon Cartwright (waived/injured), WR Bernard Reedy (waived/injured).