He came in heralded as a second round pick just two years for the Buccaneers. Now, might defensive end Noah Spence may find himself gone from Tampa Bay before the start of the 2018 regular season?
That’s the question that observers and fans are wondering after Spence curiously played the entire fourth preseason season game on Thursday night against Jacksonville. Especially in the second half, Spence was playing against players who are virtually all going to be cut the by Bucs and the Jaguars.
So, the question about Spence’s status: whether the Bucs will keep him, try to trade him before the Saturday 4 p.m. cutdown to 53 players deadline, or whether he’s about to be out right released was still being asked of coach Dirk Koetter Friday afternoon:
Head coach Dirk Koetter is at the podium for his day-after-game press conference! https://t.co/dB9u31W31F
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 31, 2018
Spence suffered a season ending shoulder injury last October, and has clearly been a disappointment after the Bucs were counting on him being an edge rushing weapon.
For his part, Koetter had an answer ready about Spence having played the whole final preseason game:
“I see a guy that’s working hard to get better. He needed to play. I mean,…. Noah told me at halftime that he was having a great time playing on all downs, not just on pass downs. And I think Noah got better last night. I think he needed to go out there and play like he was an every down player.”
Koetter continued, “I’ll just say that if you look around the league – I think their first-round pick was playing in that game (Taven Bryan), I mean not in the fourth quarter, but he was playing. I mean, playing is playing. Noah needed to play. It was a good experience for him and I think he got better last night.”
Koetter is correct that Bryan did play in the first half, and so too, did embattled Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler, who played two series in the first half. And it’s also correct that neither of them were on the field at all in the second half.
He was no doubt motivated by Tampa Bay signing Vinny Curry from the Eagles and trading for Jason Pierre Paul from the Giants at Spence’s position.
Now, comes whether the Bucs, and specifically, GM Jason Licht who drafted Spence, would be willing to give up on him? Consider, that Licht did that with kicker Roberto Aguayo last August, when they released him after just one preseason game for missing more kicks. Aguayo was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round shortly after they took Spence two years ago.
That means the Bucs would have gotten rid of, for nothing in return, two premium draft picks inside of two seasons played.
Now, the 2016 second round has already amazingly had numerous casualties as Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network pointed out:
With Hackenberg’s release, a reminder that 7 picks from the 2016 2nd round have already been cut or traded.
Kevin Dodd #33
Reggie Ragland #41
Jihad Ward #44
Christian Hackenberg #51
Su’a Cravens #53
Kamalei Correa #56
Roberto Aguayo #59
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) August 31, 2018
That’s a sobering list, and it also means that it’s not so far-fetched that the Buccaneers could say goodbye to Noah Spence.
Could, say goodbye.
Not that they will say good bye on Saturday.
Still, it’s got to be an uneasy Saturday for Spence until, if and when, the coaching staff reassures him that he’s on the roster and not going anywhere.
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