Bucs free agents begin to chase their dreams

by Gary Shelton on May 6, 2016 · 0 comments

in general

Friday, 5:45 a.m.

Eventually, maybe they will think about the money. Or the celebrity. Or the cheering crowds.

For now, what unites them is the dream.

If you are concerned that too many players have retired too early from the NFL, then take a look around the country this week. Hundreds of players, undrafted, largely unappeciated, will flood the fields in search of a chance. Just a second look from a coach. Just a bit of interest. Just the promise of maybe making a roster.

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Just that. Free agents don't get as long a look as draftees, and their chance won't last as long. Most of them leave beleiving they have done enough.

They will come from football fields you have never heard of. Some of them might have been taken if the NFL draft went eight rounds, or nine, or 10.

The Bucs have signed 19 free agents who will start their Bucs' career this weekend in the team's rookie mini-camp. They come from West Chester and Kutztown, from Ohio Dominican and Missouri Western, from West Georgia and William and Mary.

For a young team, the Bucs might not be an easy one to make. They have four starters from last year's draft, possibly four more from this year's. But if a player is going to make it, most of his reviews will come from special teams.

Where, in particular, are the Bucs looking for help? Well, they signed three tight ends (two of whom also play fullback). They signed three safeties, three wide receivers, three safeties. They signed two running backs and two tackles. In other words, a lot of spots they didn't address in the draft.

They will look at Peyton Barber, a back who left school to help pay the bills for his mother. They signed linebacker Cassanova McKinzy, who Mel Kiper once called a third-round pick. They signed Notre Dame safety Elijah Shumate, who wrote a draft diary for NotreDame.com. They signed Taylor Fallin, who protected Paxton Lynch's blind side at Memphis. They signed Anthony Kelly from Kutztown. And Luke Rhodes from William and Mary.

And the odds are astronomical against them all.

Oh, players do beat the odds. Wes Welker was a free agent. And Rod Smith and Jeff Saturday and Antonio Gates and Kurt Warner and Warren Moon and Priest Holmes and Arian Foster. And Donnie Shell and Jeff Garcia and James Harrison and Tony Romo and John Randl.

For them, it also started on an vacant field on a spring afternoon.

With a dream.

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