As the Bucs have largely found a way to bring back all of the impact players from their Super Bowl-winning roster in 2020, becoming the first team in the salary cap era to return all 22 starters following a Super Bowl victory, general manager Jason Licht spoke to the media on Thursday as Tampa Bay prepares for the upcoming NFL Draft.
With so few glaring needs across the roster, the next step for the Bucs becomes adding valuable depth pieces to the team through the draft, remaining free agents and players that have already been signed to Tampa Bay’s practice squad. And without a true offseason program last year, that lost time cut into valuable reps that specifically rookies and practice squad players could spend developing. One of those practice squad players that could prove valuable for the Bucs is Travis Jonsen, according to Licht.
“We’re excited about a few of them but I would say one that stands out is Travis Jonsen,” Licht said. “Travis Jonsen did a great job this year for us. He was kind of a hybrid quarterback receiver in college and this year he was honing his craft as a receiver and he got better and better every day. So he’s one guy that’s potentially a special teams guy, a fourth, fifth, whatever, sixth receiver. I don’t know, Bruce [Arians] may want to keep eight receivers on the roster this year but he’s a guy that we’re looking forward to watching here and developing further.”
Jonsen began his college career as a quarterback with Oregon before transitioning to wide receiver and transferring to Montana State for his junior and senior seasons. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020, Jonsen would eventually serve as the Taysom Hill role when the Bucs prepared to face the Saints in the NFC Divisional round last year.
Jonsen spent a good amount of time running the ball as a wildcat quarterback in college, in addition to be flanked out wide. Jonsen had 118 carries for 725 yards (6.1 avg.) and 13 touchdowns in two seasons for the Montana State Bobcats, while catching 83 passes for 899 yards (10.8 avg.) and two touchdowns. Last year, Jonsen had 528 yards rushing and scored eight TDs along with 580 yards and one touchdown on 55 catches.
In May of last year, shortly after Tampa Bay signed Jonsen, the Bucs’ director of college scouting Mike Biehl spoke about what he saw from the young athlete.
“He’s an interesting guy as an Oregon transfer,” said Bucs director of college scouting Mike Biehl back in May. “He was a quarterback at Oregon. We liked his versatility and that he can do some things for us. He’s kind of raw as a receiver, not having played the position a lot, but we just think he’s somebody we can work with. He’s got a lot of athletic ability, and when you switch from quarterback to receiver you have a whole different outlook on the game. It’s kind of intriguing. I think our coaches will be excited to work with a guy like this and maybe do some different things.”
While the Bucs were excited to see what they had in Jonsen then, it seems as though that intrigue has yet to cool off heading into the 2021 season. Tampa Bay is now in need of additional help on special teams after losing cornerback and former special teams captain Ryan Smith to the Chargers.