Bucs Could Pursue Former First Round Pick: Analysis

Tom Brady

Getty Tom Brady talks things over with Mike Evans and Buccaneers teammates in 2021.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could add competition to the third wide receiver spot by signing former first round pick Will Fuller V.

With Chris Godwin still recovering from an ACL tear, the Bucs could use a talented target in Fuller. Last season, Fuller only played two games for the Miami Dolphins due to injuries. He remains a free agent after the Dolphins picked Texas Tech wide receiver Erik Ezukanma in the NFL Draft.

Fuller had five productive years in Houston before that where he averaged 41 catches, 622 yards, and four touchdowns per season. He made $10.6 million in 2021 with the Dolphins per Spotrac, but his recent injury history could impact his value in free agency.

The Bucs have $12.9 million in salary cap space per Spotrac. Much of that will likely go toward signing draft picks and remaining free agents.

“Fuller has become a high-upside value at this point in his career on a short-term contract,” Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton wrote. “Even if he misses a few games, he can spark an offense much more drastically than the majority of non-stars. The 28-year-old is an underrated route-runner with elite speed and has a career average of 14.7 yards per catch.”

“Fuller fits best with strong-armed, creative quarterbacks who will keep their eyes downfield even as the pocket breaks down,” Wharton added.

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady took many deep shots downfield last season. Brady threw well within the league average for pass plays for 20 yards or more per Next Gen Stats.

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Bucs Needing a Touchdown Threat

Going into potentially Brady’s final season, the Bucs only have one returning receiver not named Godwin or Mike Evans who caught more than one touchdown last season.

That’s Cyril Grayson, who had 10 receptions for 212 yards and two touchdowns in five late-season games. After Grayson, the Bucs had a touchdown from Breshad Perriman and none from Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and Jaelon Darden.

Tampa Bay notably lost a deep threat in Antonio Brown, who averaged 13 yards per reception last season. Brown, who had four touchdowns in seven games, abruptly left the team in January.

The Bucs retain two receivers not named Godwin or Mike Evans who went over 10 yards per catch last season. Grayson and Perriman both made catches on deep throws, but they also had limited playing time and dealt with injuries.

Newly acquired receiver Russell Gage could help that. He averaged 11.7 yards per reception last season for Atlanta. He also caught four touchdowns in both of the past two seasons.


Wide-Open Competition

Though Gage comes to Tampa Bay with pedigree as a reliable pass catcher, Bucs wide receivers coach Kevin Garver alluded to competition being wide open.

“Really, the way that I look at it and the same thing I’m telling the guys in the room, on this team we’ve got Mike and we’ve got Chris, and those two guys have established themselves in their roles and what they bring to the offense,” Garver told the media on Tuesday, May 10. “Besides that, it’s open season.”

“It’s really competition across the board,” Garver added. “They’ve all got different talents and abilities and bring something different to the table. But I’m really looking forward to the competition as this moves along here.”

Garver expressed confidence in the Bucs’ current receiver depth but also said “you can never have enough wide receivers” with injuries as part of the game.

READ NEXT: Tom Brady Gives Update on Recruiting Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman 

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