Buccaneers Could Bring Back Former Pro Bowl Wideout: Analysis

Tom Brady

Getty Former Buccaneers wide receiver and free agent DeSean Jackson previously said he wants to play with Tom Brady.

Wide receiver depth remains a concern for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the team could address it through bringing back DeSean Jackson.

The Bucs know first hand that Jackson can still play. He burned the Bucs secondary on a 75-yard touchdown pass in Week 3 last year as a member of the Los Angeles Rams. Jackson eventually wanted to a trade, and the Rams released him in November 2021 after the trade deadline. He finished the season with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Jackson, 35, became a free agent after the season following a 20-reception, 454-yard, and two-touchdown performance in 16 games played. It marked his most complete season since 2018 when he played for the Bucs and tallied 41 catches for 774 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games. Overall, he had 91 catches for 1,442 yards and seven touchdowns in 26 games for the Bucs from 2017 to 2018.

Tampa Bay bringing him back gives the team a deep threat at receiver behind Mike Evans until Chris Godwin returns from an ACL tear. Russell Gage, who joined the Bucs via free agency, hasn’t practiced with the team yet due to undisclosed injury according to head coach Todd Bowles.

“Well, he’s a little sore right now, so we’re resting him,” Bowles told the media on Wednesday, May 25. “We don’t need to play him right now. So, when he’s here, he’s getting his treatment and everything. It shouldn’t be anything serious for training camp.”

Jackson Showed Interest in Playing With Tom Brady

With that said, the Bucs only have future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady for 2022 for sure, and injuries at wide receiver played a role in coming short of a Super Bowl repeat. Jackson previously expressed interest in playing with Brady during a 2021 interview on the “Endless Hustle” podcast.

I feel like Tom’s one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, like he’s really the GOAT for me. You know, I wish I would have played with a guy like Tom Brady,” Jackson said on the podcast.

Jackson has also missed his previous opportunities at a Super Bowl ring. He left the Philadelphia Eagles, Bucs, and Rams before each team won Super Bowls during his career. A ring and playing with a top-tier quarterback still motivates him, he said during a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Ashley Nicole Moss. However, he could retire instead.

“I’m not really sure if I’m going to play next year or not,” Jackson told Moss. “I know I announced and said I was going to play. It’s just really at this point where I’m at in my life, it’s gotta be the right fit.”

He noted a “great quarterback” is part of the picture, and he listed off teams star signal callers as potential destinations.

Insurance Move for Bucs?

Tampa Bay lacks a healthy deep ball threat beyond Evans.

Cyril Grayson and Breshad Perriman only had 11 games and 30 targets between them. Tyler Johnson averaged 10 yards per catch, and Scotty Miller and Jaelon Darden averaged less than eight yards per grab. Miller, who dealt with injury in 2021, could regain 2020 form where he caught four passes for 35 or more yards.

“He looks good — he’s in shape,” Bowles said about Miller on Wednesday. “He’s running fast. He’s doing all the right things right now. Hopefully, that transfers to training camp and he doesn’t get hurt again.”

As an insurance option, the Bucs could sign Jackson to a team-friendly deal, considering he made $1 million with the Raiders last season according to Spotrac. He previously had a $2.7 million contract with the Rams per Spotrac. The Bucs have $12.4 million in salary cap space, Spotrac reports.

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