The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and new head coach Greg Schiano made a bold move on Tuesday by releasing veteran safety Tanard Jackson. The surprising move to dismiss Jackson came about because he was recovering from shoulder surgery, which he had in January, and the Bucs were not happy about his progress and actions this offseason.
General manager Mark Dominik addressed the media and gave a statement on Jackson's release.
“As an organization we have decided to terminate – with a failed physical – Tanard Jackson,” Dominik said. “This was a decision we decided to make for the football team and just for our organization. We obviously talked to Tanard today and wished him the best on his future endeavors and with his next organization, but it’s something we felt like we wanted to do and needed to do.”
Jackson came into the league with the Bucs as a fourth-round pick from Syracuse in 2007. He earned significant playing right way, but several suspensions due to failed drug tests derailed what should have been a long career in the Bucs' secondary.
In 2010, Jackson was suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy – again – and served a 57-week suspension before rejoining the Bucs on October 11 of last year. Jackson played well after his return and recorded an interception in each of his first two games back. He finished the season with 46 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and three passes defensed.
For his career in Tampa Bay, Jackson amassed 324 tackles, 10 interceptions, five forced fumbles, two sacks, and two touchdowns.
Cutting Jackson, who missed the first week of Tampa Bay's offseason program, sends a loud and strong message to the players remaining in the locker room.
But was it the right decision from a football standpoint?
The Bucs secondary was already bare to begin with and now the team must find a way to replace Jackson in the starting lineup. Maybe Cody Grimm is the answer, but he hasn't proven he can stay healthy enough to finish a full 16-game season. Behind him, the Bucs only have unproven and raw commodities like Larry Asante, Ahmad Black, and Devin Holland. Re-signing veteran Sean Jones most certainly is not the answer.
Maybe the Bucs plan on moving Ronde Barber over to safety. The 16-year veteran does have some experience at the position, but moving him leaves the Bucs with a hole at cornerback.
Schiano's head-scratching decision to cut Jackson may be the best thing for the team in the long run, but it has left them in a tough position headed into this coming season.
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