The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiving corps had some hight in 2016, but was a mixed bag and the unit ultimately required some changes. The Buccaneers know the value of reliable wide receivers in the NFL, which is clearly a passing league. With that in mind and a potential superstar at quarterback in Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers cashed in the addition of DeSean Jackson. Below is a breakdown of the performances of the Bucs wide receivers in 2016.
Breaking down the 2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receivers
Mike Evans reached the top tier of wide receivers in the league in his third season. The Buccaneers went to him early and often and he produced 96 receptions for 1,321 yards (both career highs) and 12 touchdowns, which tied the high he had as a rookie in 2014.
Adam Humphries is a slick slot receiver with the speed to break plays open. He was third on the Buccaneers with 55 receptions and 622 receiving yards and was one of four receivers on the team to catch at least two touchdowns. Humphries was also the main punt returner with 24 returns for 237 yards. The former Clemson Tiger averaged 9.9 yards per return, which was seventh best in the NFL. He was also an effective kick returner with four kick returns for 47 yards.
The most disappointing result was when Vincent Jackson suffered a torn ACL against the Carolina Panthers. Jackson finished the season with just 15 catches, 173 receiving yards and no touchdowns in only five games played. He was trying to improve on a 2015 season, in which he had just 33 catches for 543 yards and three touchdowns in nine starts.
The Buccaneers decided not to re-sign Jackson in the off-season. Jackson is currently an unrestricted free agent. Overall Jacksonhad a nice run for the Buccaneers in five seasons since he signed with the team in 2012. He set career highs in receiving yards with 1,384 in 2012 and receptions with 78 in 2013.
Cecil Shorts was a really late addition after one season with the Houston Texans and still couldn’t quite build on the potential he showed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had three straight seasons of at least 50 catches with Jacksonville. Shorts played in nine games, started five and produced 11 catches for 152 yards and then suffered a major knee injury late in the season. Shorts is also currently an unrestricted free agent.
Russell Shepard got his first action as a starting wide receiver for Tampa Bay as a result of the injuries the team sustained and after 14 games he finished with 23 catches for 341 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted 40 times, which was the fourth most on the team. Shepard had just seven total catches through his first three seasons with the Buccaneers. He signed a three-year contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Freddie Martino made the most of his opportunities as an extra receiver as he caught eight of his 11 targets for 142 yards and one touchdown. He played in 13 games after appearing in just one game in 2014 with the Atlanta Falcons.
Josh Huff played in three games for Tampa Bay and had three catches for 41 yards. The Buccaneers picked Huff up in November after he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles because of a gun charge. Huff had 13 catches for 72 yards and one touchdown in seven games and two starts with the Eagles. Huff was drafted by the Eagles in 2014 and had 27 catches for 312 yards and three touchdowns in 2015.