The NFL is full of players who got second chances.

The streets are also full of NFL-caliber players who didn’t make the most of their second chances.

WR Riley Cooper – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR

The Bucs added former Eagles receiver Riley Cooper this week as a tryout player, and the former Gators standout was appreciative of the opportunity after sitting out the 2016 season.

Cooper says he plans to make the most of his second chance in the NFL.

“I just found out about the workout (last) Sunday,” Cooper said. “It’s a great opportunity and I am super excited about it. I am trying to make the best of it. Go out there and try and make some plays and run around and spread my knowledge to maybe some of the younger guys if I can be of any help. I am hometown Tampa boy so it’s good to be back.”

Cooper was cut following the 2015 season, and waited for a phone call that never came until last week.

“(I was cut) February of 2016, obviously I didn’t feel 100 percent out there today,” Cooper said. “I’m trying to get my body back into the routine of practicing and all that and it’s a new scheme and a completely new coaching staff and you are thinking a lot and trying to move. It will take a little bit to get used to.

“I’ve just been fishing and working out to be honest with you. I just bought a house in Ocala and just been fishing and working out up there.”

The Clearwater native was involved in a highly publicized confrontation at a concert in july of 2013, where he used a racial slur while addressing a security guard. The incident, which was caught on tape, caused embarrassment to Cooper and the Eagles organization who fined their receiver.

On Friday Cooper discussed his thoughts on if he felt the lack of an opportunity in the league last season could be attributed to that July evening almost four years ago.

“I am not sure, I am extremely apologetic about that,” Cooper said. “I have told everyone it was completely my fault and I am so sorry about it. That is not the type of person I am. And the people that know me, know that.”

Cooper has an ally in his former Eagles teammate, DeSean Jackson.

“DeSean is my buddy,” Cooper said. “I’ve known him for seven years now and we have been through battles together in Philly, and tough games, battling a lot of people. And you become close as friends when your back is up against the wall. Especially when you are in the same room spending hours upon hours with each other. He knows I love him.”

The six-year NFL vet was asked his impressions on Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston had a career-high 5 TDs at Philly – Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

“He’s a Florida State guy and I am a Gator, so I will let it slide,” Cooper said smiling. “I watched him at Florida State and played against him in the league when I was with Philly. Just yesterday we watched a lot of film on just routes and things, and I watched him – he is a heck of a player. Super talented and smart. He makes good reads. It would fun. It would be an honor to play with Jameis. He is a heck of a quarterback and I think he will be in Tampa a long time.”

Despite it not being what he wanted to do, sitting out a year had its advantages according to Cooper.

“I have been playing for a long time and my body feel good,” Cooper said. “That year off, it helped a bunch. No contact, no games, no nothing. Just kind of working out. Hot tub, cold tub, sauna it was kind of nice. I am ready to rock and roll.”

With a chance to showcase his ability to the Bucs, Cooper has just one thing in mind in order to impress.

“Just show what type of player I am,” Cooper said. “A big, physical player who can go up and get the ball. I will block, I will come down and block and do all of those things. Just be the player that I am. Don’t try and be anything special. Don’t try and be a DeSean Jackson who I played with for four years or (Mike) Evans. They are a heck of a talent. But just play my game and stick to that.

I think I will be okay, but you never know.”


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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at
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Bobby Ashcraft
4 years ago

I don’t at all condone what he did in ’13, but I feel like he deserves another chance. If he is in great shape, body well rested, and can get the rust knocked off in a quick, smooth fashion, I like what he can bring to the back end of our receiving corps. I will be rooting for him to make the roster.

4 years ago

I wouldn’t be surprised if he made it onto the roster if he gets himself back in shape… Talk about possible WR depth? Never seen anything like it in Tampa!

4 years ago

Cooper is a good blocking WR. Plus he was the Gunner for Philly on Special Teams. Sounds like the Shepard replacement.

4 years ago

6’4″, 230, sub 4.6 speed, experience, a local boy, 29y.o, special team ace….and a chance for redemption?

Sounds like a solid mix considering the competition for the bottom of the WR corp.

Buc 1976
4 years ago

What he did was wrong, but he has apologized many times. If he is still good enough to play he should if he isn’t at least he got a 2nd chance.

4 years ago

… if you give this guy a tryout-contract then Vjax should get one too

4 years ago

Just saying here…; why would a guy who will be 30 in September and wasn’t in the NFL last season makes him better than most other tryout? I think what kept him out of the league last season was there were a lot of WR’s who were better than him. Time to move on Riley with your life. I wish you the best.

4 years ago

The beauty of sport is a person must prove it on the field of play. Him being off a year is like a player that was injured for an entire year (ie Sweezy).

The locker room is a very forgiving place if you can play. But not sure if that includes using the N-word. We shall see.

The key here is that this try-out has the potential for a lot of upside, with minimal downside.

I can tell you DJax & Evans will forgive him if he blocks down field to give them running room.

4 years ago

Cooper as the #5 WR on the Bucs would provide outstanding depth. He’s a serious upgrade over Shepard as a receiver and is just about his equal on special teams. The video of him just from his first day at camp shows how much smoother and what a polished route runner he is compared to these rookies. I’m all for it if he makes the team.

4 years ago

Cooper is the perfect fit to the BUCS WR Corp. We needed 1 more WR with experience to add quality depth, not to be an immediate starter. He’s hungry, fresh, and experienced….perfect just perfect!

4 years ago

If the league can forgive players who commit violent felonies and misdemeanors, I have absolutely no idea why they couldn’t forgive someone who didn’t even commit a crime who probably said something in a drunken rage.

4 years ago

if we’re gonna throw morals out the door — i’d rather have joe mixon LOL

4 years ago

This is so simple really. If the Buccaneer coaches like what they see and want him on the roster? If his teammates have accepted him in the locker room as DeSean Jackson and the Eagles did a few years ago? I have no problem with it. GM’s who listen to the fans end up sitting with the fans in the stands.

4 years ago

Philly south? Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, and Desean Jackson could all be on this team. It’s like a dream come true for Jameis…all his favorite Eagles are on his team in Tampa! Now if they can just figure out how to get him Shady McCoy…

4 years ago

I’m with Horse on this one, and it has nothing to do with his racist remark. He was let go by a team desperate for receivers, and NOT for being a racist. He was let go because his production didn’t match his cost. I live in fleagle territory and listened to the fans complain about this guy for years.. Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane. The Bucs have younger and better options available to them.

Julian Jordan
4 years ago

Honestly man we don’t have time for Riley.

It’s cool if he wants to be a dude that can sit at home in case of injury and all that but we seriously got enough distractions with Hard Knocks in town.

Jason did a good job keeping the chemistry and continuity through the off-season and through the draft.

Sounds like we have some promising undrafted talent at wide receiver.

No time for Riley.

4 years ago

It’s really simple, we need the best players on the field. What he said 4 years ago really doesn’t matter anymore at this point. If anything, I’m more concerned with his advanced age compared to our younger options. The year off helps though as that’s that much less mileage on his body.

If he can fill the void left by Sheppard’s departure then I’m all for signing him. If there are younger options that are comparable talent wise, I’d suggest we go with them instead

4 years ago

I’d like more insight on Walker. My impression is that he’s young, experienced, and has no baggage. The TE from Canada was also productive. If they can hold up to the heat and humidity, keep both of them, and stop bringing in fleagle rejects. We’re not that desperate anymore.

4 years ago

This makes a lot of sense. He adds depth and experience.

As far as the incident he Said something stupid while likely drunk. I think we all have been guilty of that and doesn’t make you a racist or anything.