The Buccaneers have signed wide receiver Jaydon Mickens to the 53-man roster, per his agent, David Canter of GSE Worldwide.
As a result, Tampa Bay waived safety Chris Cooper in order to stay within the limits of the league's roster rules. Cooper, who attended Stony Brook, made the initial 53-man roster after displaying some strong special teams skills during the preseason. In fact, he was responsible for what many to consider the top special teams play of the preseason. Cooper making the initial 53 was rather impressive considering he was the last man added to the Bucs' 90-man roster before training camp began back in July.
Mickens was the Bucs' primary kick returner in 2020 and had a strong game -along with the rest of the Bucs special teams unit- against the Cowboys. He averaged 30.7 yards per kick return and 10.5 yards per punt return with longs of 41 yards and and 14 yards, respectively. The fifth-year receiver's numbers could've looked much better if it weren't for a holding call that wiped out what would've been a 24-yard punt return that would've set the Bucs offense up at the Dallas 30.
"Mick had a hell of a night [in the] return game; it's a shame we had a penalty on the punt return," Bruce Arians told reporters Friday.
Many figured rookie fourth-round pick Jaelon Darden would handle the Bucs' kick return duties and that's not out the picture in 2021 just yet. Arians wanted as many veterans on the field as possible for the season opener simply due to the gravity of the situation. Therefore, there's still a chance for Darden to take over in the future. But he'll be facing a very arduous, uphill climb if Mickens continues to play the way he did against the Cowboys.
"Jaelon's done a heck of a job but I'm not going to let him fail as a rookie," Arians said. "He's got such a great, great future. We wanted as much veteran presence on that field as we possibly could, knowing the situation and the intensity of the game. ‘Mick's’ been there and done it. It's not a thing against Jaelon, it's just more a guy that's been there and done it."
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