Photo: Dee Delaney; Credit: Buccaneers.com
Dee Delaney was one of several veterans who were considered a longshot to make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' final roster this year after signing with the team in May. Fast forward to September, and Delaney is on an active roster for the first time since 2019.
"I just went out every day and just gave it my all," Delaney said on Thursday, recapping his preseason with the Buccaneers. "I knew what it felt like to be at home. Each and every day I just grind, grind, grind.”
The last time Delaney was on an active roster, it was at the end of the 2019 season with the Washington Football Team. He had since looked into joining the military and applied for jobs outside of the football world, but never gave up on finding a way back into the sport.
A career journeyman, the 26-year-old cornerback had previously spent time with the New York Jets during the 2019 preseason, the Miami Dolphins as a practice squad member in late 2018, and the Jacksonville Jaguars during his 2018 rookie season, activated for a small handful of games before being waived. Delaney has appeared in just three regular-season games up to this point in his career.
Clearing cutdowns earlier this week, Delaney is now a member of an active roster in week one for the first time in his pro career.
"I just had a daughter last year – she’s one. She was extra motivation for me," Delaney said. "[And] my trainer, he never let off of me. He just kept me going like, ‘Man you’re going to get back in the NFL, so I want you to be ready by any means.’”
Certainly, Delaney appeared ready to make Tampa Bay's roster by his preseason performance.
Contributing both on defense and special teams, Delaney led the team in interceptions with two (he posted a third, which was called back on an extremely questionable pass interference penalty), while also recording nine tackles and several pass breakups. He quickly rose to become a member of the Bucs' second-team defense and never looked back.
Delaney will hold an important role in the Buccaneers secondary entering the 2021 campaign. Delaney will serve as Tampa Bay's primary outside cornerback behind Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean, and should also factor into each special teams unit as he did in August.
For a player who contemplated hanging up his cleats over the past year, Delaney's path to the Buccaneers' active roster is a story of success. Now, he's ready to make the most of his opportunity.
“It was tough. I got off social media because I didn’t want to see anybody else in the league. I felt like I should have been there," Delaney said. "But it was alright. I just kept working out through it all.”
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