Bucs Could Unload Wide Receiver: Analysis

Jason Licht

Getty Bucs general manager Jason Licht's addition of Trey Palmer could mean the end for wideout Deven Thompkins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Deven Thompkins could lose his job as rookie wide receiver Trey Palmer looks to carve out a role.

Tampa Bay drafted Palmer in for his speed as both a receiver and kick returner in last month’s NFL Draft, and Fansided’s Pewter Plank views Thompkins as a potential roster spot causality in the process. An undrafted free agent in 2022, Thompkins played sparingly at wideout with just five receptions for 32 yards in five games. Thompkins also returned kicks for 21.9 yards per return and punts for 10.2 yards per return in those games.

Pewter Planks called the competition between Palmer and Thompkins “one of the more interesting training camp battles to watch” come late July. The Bucs will get a first look at Palmer at the team’s rookie minicamp on May 12-14.

“Palmer was taken in the sixth round by the Buccaneers, but joins a wide receiver room with only two figureheads firmly in place and the rest of the spots pretty much up for grabs,” Hill wrote. “The Bucs didn’t dip into the skill position pool this year, taking Palmer and tight end Payne Durham out of Purdue. Those two guys were the only pass catchers Tampa Bay drafted, and Palmer has the chance to be far and away the better of the two picks.”

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“Palmer ran the fourth-fastest 40-yard dash time at the combine, so he brings some serious speed to the receiving corps,” Hill added. “The Bucs have shown in the past they like fast guys to break out of routes and get downfield fast, and that’s Palmer’s style. He’s a vertical threat who the NFL Network crew hastily compared to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin; he won’t replace either of them but it makes sense that he could fill in as the third part of a great receiving trio.”

Russell Gage ‘on Notice’ With Trey Palmer Selection

Bucs wide receiver Russell Gage can’t sit too comfortably with Palmer on the roster, too. Gage arguably underperformed in 2022 amid a nagging hamstring injury, and Hill believes that Gage “needs to be on notice” with Palmer joining the team.

“Gage can be penciled in as the WR3, but Palmer could work his way into that spot,” Hill wrote.

Last season, Gage posted 51 receptions for 426 yards and five touchdowns, but he finished with his lowest average of yards per reception for his career. He gained 8.4 yards per catch after he never went lower than 9.1 yards per reception.

While Gage hasn’t spoken on the matter, he notably changed to No. 3 for his jersey during organized team activities this offseason. Palmer wore No. 3 at Nebraska while Gage previously wore No. 17 with the Bucs.

Trey Palmer Considered ‘Draft Steal’ for Bucs

Palmer’s explosiveness has USA Today’s Touchdown Wire calling the former Nebraska star a “draft steal” for the Bucs.

“Last season for the Bucs, Mike Evans was the only receiver with more than three catches on throws of 20 or more air yards,” Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar wrote. “Palmer, the former five-star recruit and LSU transfer, was a revelation as a deep receiver in 2022, with 12 catches on throws of 20 or more air yards for 507 yards and seven touchdowns.”

“Palmer isn’t yet a completely developed receiver, but with the kind of explosive potential he showed on plays like this 87-yard touchdown against Iowa, maybe that’s something that can be developed over time while Palmer just runs past the guys covering him,”

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