Bucs Sign ‘Upgrade’ at Tight End, Cut Playmaker Ahead of Saints Showdown

Todd Bowles

Getty The Buccaneers made a series of roster moves.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made several tight end moves ahead of their September 18 rivalry matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Tampa Bay announced the signing of tight end David Wells to the team’s practice squad, a spot opened up by the release of JJ Howland.

Wells signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and has since spent time with the Chiefs, Patriots, Falcons, Colts and Cardinals before joining the Buccaneers. The former San Diego State tight end played three games, including one start, for the Cardinals last season. Heading into the 2018 draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein described Wells as a “run-blocking specialist.”

“Wells is leaned on to do some of the heavy lifting as a run-blocking specialist in the Aztecs offense, but his play strength needs to match his size on a more consistent basis,” Zierlein wrote in his pre-draft profile of the tight end. “Wells isn’t going to threaten defenses very often in the passing game so he will need to become more physical as a run blocker if he wants to find a roster spot and NFL playing time.”


The Bucs Are No Longer Expecting Gronk to Return: Report

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there was a time during the offseason when the Bucs were holding out hope that Tom Brady would be able to lure Rob Gronkowski out of retirement as the playoffs near. That hope diminished, and the Buccaneers prepared for life without Gronkowski by signing former Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph.

“Heading into Sunday night’s regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, the Buccaneers are not counting on Gronkowski to return, sources told ESPN,” Schefter wrote on September 11.

“The Buccaneers initially had hoped that later this season, if they were in the thick of the race for a playoff spot, Brady could help convince Gronkowski to return. But sources told ESPN that at least for the time being, until they hear differently, the Buccaneers believe that Gronkowski has moved on with his life.”

Schefter labeled Gronkowski’s returning as an “unlikely scenario” but did not completely rule out the former star tight end from having a change of heart. The NFL insider added that Gronk would be looking for a “completely right” circumstance with a contender if he did return.

“In the unlikely scenario that Gronkowski would return later this season, the circumstances would have to be completely right, according to sources,” Schefter explained. “The five-time Pro Bowl tight end would want an opportunity with a Super Bowl contender that needed him and made a return to the NFL worth his while.”


Bowles Labeled Wells an ‘Upgrade’ at Tight End


David Wells (SDSU TE) vs Fresno State 2016Visit draftbreakdown.com for more game film videos2017-05-25T16:08:39Z

Wells gives the Buccaneers some added depth at tight end with Cameron Brate (67.7%) and Cade Otton (48.39%) receiving the majority of the snaps in Week 1. Bucs rookie Ko Kieft also contributed in the season opener with 25.8% of the offensive plays. Rudolph was inactive as the team squared off with the Cowboys to kickoff the season. Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles labeled Wells an “upgrade” at tight end compared to Howland.

“[I] thought he was an upgrade, and he can help us down the line, probably more than J.J. [Howland] at the time and so we brought him in,” Bowles said during a September 14 press conference.

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