Bruce Arians foreshadowed that the Bucs could be making changes to the punt return game on Monday, and that came to fruition a day later on Tuesday as Greg Auman of The Athletic reports that the Bucs have released wide receiver and punt returner Bobo Wilson.
Auman also reported that the Bucs released outside linebacker Devante Bond as well.
Bucs are making moves during their bye week, releasing WR Bobo Wilson and OLB Devante Bond. Wilson muffed two punts Tuesday and lost one of the fumbles. No corresponding moves known yet.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) October 15, 2019
Wilson averaged a tepid 2.8 yards per attempt on returns this season, providing minimal impact to the Bucs special teams. Then on Sunday he muffed two punts, including one that was recovered by the Panthers as the Bucs were trying to make a comeback. It essentially ended the Bucs chances as the Panthers scored a touchdown with close field position.
“The biggest thing right now would be just punt returner,” coach Arians said on Monday about any changes that could be made to the team. “It’s not as much the muffs as it is the lack of production.”
Signing as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Wilson started out on the practice squad and played sparingly in the regular season on the 53-man roster over the next two seasons primarily as a kick returner. He made the roster out of training camp this season as Tampa Bay’s punt returner and had some snaps at wide receiver with the injury to Breshad Perriman.
In his career, Wilson played in 14 games and made eight catches for 105 yards and one touchdown. This was his first year returning punts, where he averaged 2.8 yards per return, and has a career kickoff return average of 28.4 yards per return.
Bond was drafted by the Bucs in the sixth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft and played in 29 games for Tampa Bay while starting in six of them. He has been a backup at linebacker but also played a role on special teams. He recorded 29 tackles during his time with the Bucs, inlcuding three this year with one as a tackle for loss.
The Bucs will need a replacement at punt returner now, and Arians did list some in house names on Monday that they will examine upon returning to practice after the bye week.
“We got a couple of candidates,” Arians said. “T.J. Logan, Vernon (Hargreaves), Scotty (Miller), maybe.”
Logan signed with the Bucs on September 2nd, and was brought in to handle kick return responsibilities. Arians likes Logan for his speed, but he has also put up pedestrian numbers with an average of 18.8 yards per return.
Hargreaves, who is the Bucs number one corner, returned five punts during his rookie season in 2016, but hasn’t since that time. He did catch some punts in practice during training camp, but normally just in the beginning of practice during warmups.
Miller is the fastest of the group, clocking in a 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day at Bowling Green. He went back for two punts during the Bucs preseason upon his return from a hamstring injury, but called a fair catch each time.
In addition to Wilson and Bond, Auman reported later in the day that the Bucs also released outside linebacker Demone Harris and running back Darius Jackson from the team’s practice squad before signing running back Aca’Cedric Ware.
Ware played all four years at USC, a former teammate of Bucs running back Ronald Jones, before being signed as an undrafted free agent with Indianapolis and spending time with the Colts during the 2019 preseason.
The roster moves still leave two open spots on Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster and one spot open on the practice squad for the assumed return of Jason Pierre-Paul and future signings.