TAMPA BAY – When Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady mentions a player specifically by name, while simultaneously listing his expectations for you, it’s safe to say that player will be a topic of conversation.
Such is the case with wide receiver Russell Gage, whom the Buccaneers added through free agency back in March. Gage is considered by many to be one of the more important/underrated signings of free agency due to his versatility and ability as a receiver in the NFL.
He’s also an important piece because of the uncertainty surrounding Chris Godwin’s recovery from a torn ACL. If Godwin isn’t ready to go by Week 1, then Gage will slot in as the Buccaneers’ No. 2 option at receiver.
Gage didn’t practice during the Buccaneers mandatory minicamp last week, but that didn’t stop NFL.com‘s Jeffri Chadiha from listing Gage as one of the most intriguing players to come out of the first round of NFL minicamps.
Chadhia wrote the following in regard to Gage:
“This fifth-year wide receiver was one of the more underrated signings of free agency. He was a productive player in Atlanta, but now he’s joining a team that won the Super Bowl two years ago and sorely wants a shot at a championship….
The main reason Gage is so critical to Tampa Bay’s plans is the health of star wide receiver Chris Godwin, who sustained a torn ACL late last season. Godwin should be playing again at some point this regular season, but there also hasn’t been any hard timetable put on his return….
Brady clearly has set his expectations high for the young receiver. The future Hall of Fame quarterback wouldn’t do that if he didn’t think Gage could deliver.”
Gage’s versatility will be a weapon in the Buccaneers offense
The fifth-year receiver can play inside or outside and he can also line up in the backfield. Gage has even taken snaps at quarterback during his time in the NFL and has a 39-yard touchdown pass on his resumé, as a result.
Gage also brings an element of YAC to the Buccaneers, which is something they don’t have outside of Godwin. Per Pro Football Focus, Gage’s average of 3.9 yards after contact per reception was just 0.1 yards shy of tying Tyreek Hill’s mark of 4.0 in 2021.
The Buccaneers have very talented players on offense, but they don’t have a receiver that’s quite as versatile as Gage. Godwin would be the closest player and as great as he is, he may be just slightly less versatile than Gage. But, more than anything, we’re splitting hairs, with that debate.
It’s going to be really interesting to see how the Buccaneers use Gage in 2021, which makes it easy to see why Chadiha sees him as one of the NFL’s most intriguing players.
You can check out Chadiha’s full column, here.
Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports