Buccaneers Make Signing to Protect Tom Brady & Release Defender

Tom Brady & Bruce Arians

Getty Tom Brady pictured with Bruce Arians.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed offensive lineman Earl Watford, a move made possible by the release of defensive tackle Sam Renner who had been dealing with an injury. After a brief stint on the Patriots practice squad last season, the Bucs added Watford during the playoffs only to cut the guard 10 days later. After releasing Watford, the Bucs re-signed the lineman on January 27 to add to the team’s practice squad.

Watford played in 15 games for the Bucs in 2019, including four starts. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has a great familiarity with Watford not only from his time in Tampa, but the guard was a starter in Arizona for two seasons (2016 through 2017). After the Bucs added Watford during the team’s postseason run, Arians praised the lineman’s versatility and explained the value he brings to the roster.

“He can walk in any play four positions for us,” Arians noted in January, per Buccaneers.com. “[We’ll] just get him back in a little bit of football shape; he stayed in pretty good condition. Just like [with] Ted Larsen – guys that have been in this system for a while, veteran players – when you lose a guy, you try to look for veteran players rather than young guys who might not be ready.”

Arians recently compared rookie guard Nick Leverett to Watford thanks to their shared versatility. Days later, the team added Watford as the Bucs continue to deal with offensive linemen injuries.

“Bruce Arians says first-year guard Nick Leverett reminds him of Earl Watford and Watford’s ability to play multiple positions,” Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith tweeted on August 10th.

The Buccaneers Are Dealing With a Number of Injuries to Offensive Linemen

The Buccaneers were widely praised for the team’s offseason as the front office was able to bring back all 22 starters from the Super Bowl. Training camp has brought its own challenges as the Bucs are dealing with a number of injuries on the offensive line.

“Bucs had centers Robert Hainsey and Donell Stanley out again,” The Athletic’s Greg Auman tweeted on August 12th. “John Molchon took second-string snaps. Backup tackle Chidi Okeke back healthy, Josh Wells still out, with Earl Watford (wearing 67) joining as 11th lineman.”

Watford is already practicing with the Buccaneers as the team prepares for their first preseason matchup against the Bengals on August 14th.

“Veteran lineman Earl Watford will where 67 for the Bucs and was out there with the team today,” Pewter Report detailed on Twitter. “His familiarity with the offense figures to be part of the reason they brought him as well as some injuries on the interior line.”

Brady & the Starters Will Play vs. Bengals

The Buccaneers have no plans to rest the team’s starters in the preseason opener against the Bengals. Arians admitted that Tom Brady is likely to play for only one to two series

“More like a first [preseason game], everybody will play,” Arians told reporters heading into the team’s first preseason matchup. “Don’t know how much, but everybody will play. The Titans, we’re going against them for two practices, then we’ll determine how that is as far as who plays in that one. And the last one we’ll play a bunch.”

Read More