TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done what many once thought was unthinkable. They have cut running back Jeremy McNichols, their 2017 fifth-round draft pick, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.
When the Bucs drafted McNichols out of Boise State last May many thought he might immediately replace the beleaguered Doug Martin on the roster.
McNichols never played at a level that indicated he could do that, though, and he was let go as part of the roster paring to the league’s 53-man limit on Saturday.
Other notables let go by the Bucs so far include linebacker Riley Bullough, one of the stars of this year’s season of HBO’s Hard Knocks, and wide receivers Josh Huff and Donteea Dye.
None of the releases can really be considered surprises, with the possible exception of the release of McNichols, who was drafted at least in part to insure the Bucs against further issues with Martin.
Even before McNichols arrival, though, Martin had begun what has so far been an inspiring comeback from a personal tragedy that included a 45-day stint in drug rehab facility and a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy.
McNichols, meanwhile, has only struggled to find firm footing in the NFL. He’s looked tentative as a runner and out of place in pass protection where his mistakes have drawn the ire of Bucs coach Dirk Koetter.
Koetter in fact pulled McNichols from a Bucs preseason game two weeks ago after just two plays after he missed a blocking assignment that resulted in a sack of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
That missed assignment was one of at least four McNichols has had this preseason, the last coming in the Bucs preseason finale last Thursday during the Bucs 13-10 loss to the Redskins.
On a third-and-2 play from the Bucs 29-yard-line late in the third quarter, McNichols picked up his target, blitzing linebacker Pete Robertson, but dove too low in his attempt to stop him.
With McNichols prone on the ground and out of position, Robertson easily jumped over the hurdle on hisd way to quarterback Sefo Liufau, who was forced to throw the ball into the dirt in an effort to avoid a sack.
The poor blocking was only part of McNichols problem. He never showed the same ability to run the ball with authority or even catch it that he did as a collegian at Boise State.
For the preseason, McNichols ran the ball 24 times for just 79 yards (3.3) and he never caught a pass, which was the area he was supposed to excel in above all others.
With McNichols gone the Bucs are expected to open the season with three running backs on their roster – Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Peyton Barber. Martin will begin his suspension on Monday.
There is a chance the Bucs will try to bring McNichols back and add him to their practice squad, but all other teams will have to pass on the opportunity to add McNichols before the Bucs can do that.
Also some more of those cut by the Bucs on Saturday were:
WR Jesus “Bobo’’ Wilson
WR Josh Huff
WR Donteea Dye
WR Derel Walker
S Marqueston Huff
DE Mehdi Abdesmad
DE Hendrick Ekpe
S Jonathon Moxey
G Jarvis Harrison
OT Korren Kirven
TE/FB Austin Johnson
WR Freddy Martino
QB Sefo Liufau
The Buccaneers full list of moves made this weekend can be found here.
Also, the waiver wire will clear at 4 p.m. Eastern Sunday and the Bucs are expected to make at least one and maybe, more pickups. This means that the roster will stay in flux through early next week.