The Buccaneers had one of the best receiving rooms in the NFL during the 2020 NFL season, and that’s part of the reason they won the Super Bowl. Teams struggled to contain the trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, and it looked like the Bucs were going to have that same group at their disposal as they looked for a replay.
Fast-forward to January 2022, with NFL Wild Card Weekend on the horizon, and things look very different. Of that trio, only Evans remains standing.
Godwin is out for the season with a torn ACL, while Brown was cut after an infamous shirtless start during the Bucs’ Week 18 matchup against the Jets. Even if Brown was still with the Bucs, he was dealing with a major ankle injury anyway, so his reliability in the playoffs couldn’t be relied upon.
So where do the Bucs go from here?
They’ll have to rely more on their WR1 Mike Evans with those two players out. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate should also get more work, especially in the red zone, as big receivers in the middle of the field.
But who will replace Godwin as one of the best slot options? And who will help replace Brown on the outside? Here’s an in-depth look at the Buccaneers’ depth chart as they face the Eagles during the wild-card round of the 2022 NFL playoffs.
Buccaneers WR Depth Chart
Evans has clearly been the Buccaneers’ No. 1 receiver for quite some time. He has totaled at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first eight NFL seasons and was targeted 114 times by Tom Brady in the regular season. He should only see more targets as the team’s primary external weapon with Godwin and Brown out.
Johnson established himself as the Buccaneers’ clear No. 4 wide receiver thanks to his play early in the season when Brown (ankle) was out of action. Now, Johnson moved up another spot with Godwin out, and the second-year player will serve as Brady’s No. 2 receiver.
The Buccaneers selected Johnson (6-1, 206 pounds) in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He played sparingly as a rookie, making 12 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns, but has played 612 snaps for the Bucs this year. (51.7 percent of his offensive total). He caught 36 passes for 360 yards, tripling his receptions and more than doubling his rookie year total yards.
3. Breshad Perriman
With former LSU track star Cyril Grayson doubtful for this game due to a hamstring injury, Perriman will take on a bigger role with the Buccaneers. Perriman was a first-round pick by the Ravens in 2015, but it never quite worked out. His best season came in 2019 when he caught 36 passes for 645 yards and six touchdowns with Tampa Bay. He bounced around the Jets and Lions before joining the Bucs once again.
Perriman is 6-1, weighs 210 pounds and has good speed. He is not as fast as Grayson but he is complete thanks to his size. He caught 11 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown while playing sparingly this year.
RIVERA: Qualifying the performance of NFL rookie quarterbacks
Miller is another guy who had a run as one of the Bucs’ top three receivers. In 2020, he played third fiddle for Evans and Godwin before Antonio Brown arrived. The former sixth-round pick from Bowling Green caught 33 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns before giving up time to AB.
This year, things haven’t gone so well for Miller, as he spent half the year on IR dealing with turf toe. As a result, he has just five receptions for 38 yards. He will be very much a field stretcher, but he can make plays with the ball in his hands, as his 33-yard rushing touchdown against the Jets in Week 18 demonstrates.
5. Jaelon Darden
Darden (5-8, 174 pounds) is similar to Grayson in stature and is also quick and slippery. The fourth-round rookie from North Texas has been used heavily as a returner by the Bucs this year. He has averaged 7.5 punt return yards and 19.9 punt return yards.
The Bucs probably won’t use Darden much at wide receiver. He has just six receptions for 43 yards this season. The last one came in Week 11 against the Giants. He hasn’t caught any of his four goals in the last two games.
Watson, a fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft out of Penn, was activated from the PUP list on Dec. 24. He has yet to play an offensive snap this year, but he did play 19 special teams snaps against the Panthers. He could dress pending with Grayson out and he’s on the team’s 53-man roster. He had seven catches for 94 yards last year.