The Buccaneers signed their fourth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, wide receiver Jaelon Darden, to his four-year rookie contract on Wednesday, the team announced.
The team does not make contract details available for signings, but Spotrac estimates that Darden will earn nearly $4.2 million over the course of his deal in accordance with the NFL's rookie wage scale.
Tampa Bay traded up to select Darden with its first pick on the third day of this year's draft, identifying the North Texas product as not only a speedy playmaker for the Buccaneers offense but also a potential big-play threat on special teams.
Darden, 5-foot-9, 174 pounds, finished his career with the Mean Green 230 career receptions for 2,782 yards and 38 touchdowns. He added 8.9 yards on average across 35 career punt returns, scoring once on an 81-yard return during his freshman season. Darden ranked second in the nation in receiving touchdowns during the 2020 season with 19.
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians spoke highly of Darden throughout the team's two-day rookie minicamp last week, acknowledging that Darden took every available rep as a receiver and a punt returner.
“He’s super quick and fast," Arians described Darden. "He’s a little thicker than I thought he was going to be when I watched him. He catches punts very easily and catches the football extremely easily. He can be very explosive.”
Three of Tampa Bay's draft picks remain unsigned: First round edge rusher Joe Tryon, second-round quarterback Kyle Trask, and third-round offensive lineman Robert Hainsey.
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