The NFL is a business and in that business, there is player turnover. At times this includes players the fans have really connected with. Given the depth the Buccaneers have at wide receiver and the strength of competition that has emerged during camp Scotty Miller now finds himself on the roster bubble.
The Guaranteed Four
The Buccaneers have been carrying seven wide receivers through the season for the last two seasons and there looks to be no reason to change that this year. Ultimately that makes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russel Gage, and Julio Jones are a lock to make this team. This leaves three spots up from grabs.
Number One Challenger: Tyler Johnson
Tyler Johnson, the Buccaneers fifth round pick from 2020, looks every bit like a steal so far in camp and preseason. In week one of preseason Johnson burst forth with six catches on seven targets totaling 73 yards. This averages out to 12.2 yards a catch. By ending whistle Johnson lead all receivers in receptions and yards. The second game of preseason all the wide receivers didn’t post very good numbers, Johnson included. However he did snatch two for 24 yards.
Johnson makes the roster ahead of Miller. Five spots now accounted for.
Returning Competition: Jalen Darden
Darden has had some highlight catches, such as his toe tapping catch on the side line from Tom Brady and some note worthy one handed performances in joint practices. He’s created buzz in camp and it translated to a touchdown pass during the first preseason game. Unfortunately this is eerily similar to last season when he built a lot of buzz and didn’t contribute much.
Darden is not on the bubble as far as I can tell. In fact, he’s rising up the depth chart. But he has to perform when given a chance this season or next year he may not be here. Jason Licht is not afraid to cut ties when players that don’t work out, even ones he drafted. That’s six spots taken.
Returning Competition: Breshad Perriman
Perriman has been injured during camp and not seen the field in preseason. But the Buccaneers know what they have in him. In his two previous season Perriman used his speed to find space and stretch the field as he averaged no less than 15.2 yards a reception. When healthy he is a force multiplier.
Perriman is guaranteed $1,047,500 dollars this season. A big chunk of money to eat if he doesn’t make the team. Even with that money tied to him Perriman is on the bubble. His roster spot is in jeopardy.
Rookie Competition: Jerreth Sterns, Kaylon Geiger, and Deven Thompkins
Sterns looked impressive in the season opener pulling in four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. His routes looked crisp and his separation was not bad. In week one of preseason he hauled in four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. In week two he caught two of four passes. Now, everyone struggled in week two so the dip in performance is no surprise. Other than the touchdown catch Sterns seems to have fallen back in the pack.
Geiger too came out swinging week one of preseason with some camp buzz behind him as well. He caught four of four with a total of 52 yards. Since then his name has not pooped up much. The undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech seems to be dropping off.
Deven Thompkins rounds out the rookie trio and much like the other two forementioned rookies he too is dropping off. Catching two catches in each game he seems to posses the least potential of the three rookies. He’ll have to impress in the last few days of camp.
Ultimately all three rookies don’t make the team.
Scotty Miller’s Fate
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russel Gage, and Julio Jones are locks. Tyler Johnson is making this roster as well. That leaves possibly two slots open on the 53 man roster. Between Darden (who is rising), Perriman (who is injured), and Miller they must battle it out for the last two spots. Darden will very likely make this roster.
That leaves the last spot between Miller and Perriman. Perriman looks to play in the last game of preseason and show he deserves a spot and Miller looks to do the same. This will be a hard decision for the front office but it may come down to two things. Miller will occasionally pull return duties for special teams and Perriman’s injury history.
Miller makes the roster. Sometime availability and versatility outweigh talent.
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