Todd Bowles signaled in January the Buccaneers needed more power from their kicking game. On Thursday, they began their search for a solution.
Tampa Bay released veteran kicker Ryan Succop after three seasons with the club, the team announced.
The 36-year-old Succop has spent 14 seasons in the NFL with Kansas City, Tennessee and Tampa Bay, and owns a career field-goal percentage of 82.9. The downside to his career, though, is a lack of consistency from 50-plus yards out. He's made just 23 of 47 such attempts in his career, and missed 5 of 7 from that range in 2022.
Despite being equipped with a cast of talented receivers and quarterback Tom Brady, the Buccaneers struggled mightily when it came to moving the ball toward the red zone in 2022. Their difficulties forced Bowles to call for Succop to kick from 50-plus yards out a career-high seven times in 2022, magnifying a weakness in his otherwise reliable game.
"Ryan was very efficient this year, but we've got to be able to kick longer field goals than we've kicked," Bowles said of Succop in January, via FOX Sports' Greg Auman. "I think we've got to get past 47 yards, be able to kick from 50, 55 yards as well."
Tampa Bay's first steps into the post-Brady era will be with Baker Mayfield at quarterback, which isn't exactly a guarantee it'll suddenly be able to move the ball with ease. Having a kicker with a big leg will be increasingly important in 2023, and after cycling through Roberto Aguayo, Matt Gay and Succop (among others) at the position in recent years, the Buccaneers know a sure thing doesn't exist at kicker. They'll aim to find the best fit for their needs with the hope he's as consistent as Succop from shorter distances.