Who Will Be The Buccaneers Return Man In 2024?


This is a little bit of a shock Buccaneers fans. Deven Thompkins has just been waived by the team for an injury designation. And I mean just. Like, fifteen minutes ago. While the offense won’t exactly miss his 50 catches, the Special Teams will be missing the primary return man.

With the new rules, the return specialist is important for kick offs, so the Bucs have a few choices to make. It should be noted that it likely will not be someone who will get significant snaps on offense, like Rachaad White. Most teams don’t use starters in that role, and the Bucs are in that majority.

Now, the first player that came to mind when I saw this news was Bucky Irving. because of the new kick off rules, it really benefits a player like him who is very elusive in space. Irving of course is known for forcing every single missed tackle known to mankind. Plus, kickoff returns are a job often given to rookies by teams.

However, he is also a very small player at 5′ 9″ and so it can be argued that he may be too slight to field kicks. And while I think it is true for punts, these kickoff rules are supposed to reduce the risk of injury by making it so the opposing team isn’t going as fast, and so collisions aren’t as violent. But there is also the question of whether the Buccaneers would want their number 2 back (or seeming number 2 back at least) in a role that can will make it more likely he will be injured.

Another running back I think could do well as the return specialist and may be more of a possibility is Sean Tucker. Tucker was hyped to hell in the pre-season and it is safe to say he didn’t really deliver. He didn’t have a lot of snaps, but he averaged a meager 1.5 ypc. Baby Chubb he was not. But, Tucker can carve a role for himself on the Bucs a returner. He is not much bigger than Irving, but I think he would be more durable. He has a lot of straightline speed, which is good for special teams. Ironically, his NFL draft profile has him in the tier of special teamer. Unlike Irving, he doesn’t have a role on offense, unless of course Liam Coen has some plan for him that we haven’t heard yet.

We do have to remember that the Bucs can have a max of two return specialists in the backfield. So, they were likely already considering another returner. It just so happens they now need another one. There are plenty of other guys on the team they will consider (a guy like Raleigh Webb for example who actually has experience returning kicks in college), but I think either Irving or Tucker could be good in the role.

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