TAMPA – A strong preseason performance allowed cornerback Johnthan Banks to keep a spot on the Buccaneers roster for a while but it didn’t allow him to keep it for good.
Less than a day after he was deactivated from the lineup for the second week in a row, Banks was released by the Buccaneers, who apparently could find no takers for him on the trade market.
The Bucs have not officially announced the release, but Banks confirmed that he is gone off the Tampa Bay roster Monday afternoon via his Instagram account, where he wrote “Tampa, it’s been real.”
The decision to let go of Banks appears to have been made in an effort to create a roster spot for running back Mike James, who the Bucs have apparently chosen as their replacement for the injured Jacquizz Rodgers.
Rodgers suffered a sprained foot during the Bucs 30-24 loss to the Raiders on Sunday and is questionable at best for the Bucs return to action Thursday against the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs have not officially announced the signing of James but the No. 25 jersey he’s worn in previous stints with the team was hanging in the locker room on Monday.
The release of Banks meanwhile, means the Bucs have given up on the first player they selected in the 2013 draft. The move didn’t come as much of a surprise, though, as Banks has struggled to earn playing time for more than a year.
Banks started just seven games under then coach Lovie Smith a year ago, and while he dressed for the first five games this year, his only playing time came on special teams.
That was somewhat to be expected after the Bucs revamped the cornerback position during the offseason, signing veteran Brent Grimes in free agency and selecting Vernon Hargreaves III with their first pick in the draft.
Since them, Grimes and Hargreaves have emerged as the Bucs starting outside corners while Jude Adjei-Barimah has taken over for Hargreaves as the Bucs slot corner.
Hargreaves filled that slot corner spot during the preseason when it appeared Banks might not just save his roster spot but possibly earn either a starter’s job or at least some valuable playing time.
One of the Bucs most effective defenders during the preseason, Banks intercepted one pass and broke up four others to keep his place on the team after struggled through what Bucs officials described as a poor training camp.