A Second Life For Russell Gage

July 12th, 2023

Can’t be “great” in the tub.

There is one thing that is used too often. And that is the word “great.”

Too often it refers to something very good or above average. No, “great” is great. Better than elite.

Take Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com. Joe’s not killing him for this but if there is one Bucs player that is far from great it is Russell Gage.

Last offseason the wide receiver was thought to be able to replace Antonio Brown. It seemed as if he was handpicked by Tom Brady the way Brady was aggressive in recruiting him. But in “this Joe’s” eyes, no player on the Bucs was more disappointing. Yet Rosenthal still tagged Gage with the word “great.”

Russell Gage didn’t catch on with Brady last season, but he’s a great third receiver behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. That’s a strong veteran trio, even if there is no depth beyond them to turn to in the event injuries strike.

Not only is Gage not “great.” He’s not even a good third receiver. Jerry Rice was great. Ja’Marr Chase might be great. Justin Jefferson makes great plays. Hell, at times earlier in his career, Brown was great.

To be good player, you have to be able to produce. How can one produce if he’s always hurt?

Look, Joe’s not trying to bag the guy. Gage is a good dude. No one outside of Myron Lewis wants to be hurt. But this is the NFL, not college or high school where players get passes. Gage’s job is to catch passes and to do that you have to be on the field.

If Gage can stay healthy — he missed all of underwear football this spring (again) with a mysterious injury — it would be a huge step in the Bucs’ quest for a third-straight division title.

34 Responses to “A Second Life For Russell Gage”

  1. BucU Says:

    F Russell Gage. He turned into a porcelain doll since he’s been here. He’s an embarrassment.

  2. catcard202 Says:

    I’m not sure Gage is even good…Let alone great.

    Until he shows it on the field in a Bucs uni, multiple times over an entire season…(Which is a big ask of the often injured “Porcelain Doll” – nice one BucU)..I’m leaning toward Gage ultimately being labelled a FA Bust for Licht & this FO.

  3. Stanglassman Says:

    There a big difference between he’s a great player and a great 3rd on a team at Wr.

  4. Hodad Says:

    Damaged goods.

  5. dbbuc711 Says:

    I’ll be kind of surprised if he makes it thru training camp

  6. Lt. Dan Says:

    “No one outside of Myron Lewis wants to be hurt.” Dexter Jackson Pt.2?

  7. Voice of Truth Says:

    Well, he was good when he had Julio in his prime and Calvin Ridley on the other side

    He is injury prone or at least was last year and just isn’t exciting as a playmaker

    He is just a guy and really a 4th WR with his injury issues – he can’t be relied upon to take any punishment and his hamstring issues are non stop

    Hoping a bigger stronger faster Trey Palmer can quickly supplant him

  8. ModHairKen Says:

    This generation’s Bert Emmanuel. All hat and no saddle.

  9. Buc4evr Says:

    Time to move on, he is going to get injured again in training camp or preseason.

  10. Cover deuce Says:

    You guys got a crystal ball over there that can predict injuries or something? Then why all the heat for Gage when he could just as easily be healthy and produce well next yr? Why are we splitting hairs about what “great” means in this context? Baker hasn’t been good for 3 yrs and you can’t blame all of that on injury, yet I don’t see nearly the same level of editorial pessimism about him from you guys.

  11. Pickgrin Says:

    Yards per catch were not “great” – but 51 catches and 5 TDs when you’ve got Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in front of you is far from sucking….

    Gage was rarely close to 100% physically at any point in 2023.

    He had very few injuries prior to arriving in Tampa Bay and had established himself as a consistent and reliable 2nd or 3rd receiving option his previous 3 years in Atlanta…. Which is exactly why Brady pushed so hard to get him here….

    Sometimes the injury bug just jumps up and bites you and you have to fight through it the best you can which is exactly what Russell Gage did in 2022. You could see how bad that hamstring was hampering his abilities in various games last year. But he gutted it out and did his best…. Thats what I saw.

    Interesting parallel I think between what happened to Gage in 2022 and what happened to Mayfield in 2021:

    1 Both were young ‘up and comers’ with some solid success towards the end of their rookie deal and whose careers appeared to be ascending….

    2 They suffered significant injuries very early in their (4th/5th) year that weren’t severe enough to end their season but lingered for months.

    2 The player “plays through” the pain and limitations the injury puts on their body in an attempt to help their team as best as their body will allow them.

    3 The end results are less than stellar on the stat sheet and in the win column

    4 Said player the following offseason is universally accused of sucking out loud because – well – look at his #s from last year…. this is a what have you done for me lately league dontcha know……

  12. darengibo Says:


  13. firethecannons Says:

    I agree with this Joe completely on Russel Gage, he is nothing, he is not good, average or great. He is on the bench. He is nothing right now except a roster spot on the bench. He has a long way to go with this team now, he has much to make up for (not his fault) but untill he has a full game on the field and can produce he is useless to me.

  14. firethecannons Says:

    darengibo comment perfect

  15. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    I am not sure Gage can even beat out Trey Palmer, who happened to to be the fastest WR in this year’s draft.

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    There just may be some word eating happening. The non-injured Russell Gage played very good.

  17. Defense Rules Says:

    Other than Pickgrin & TBBF, you guys are a bunch of hard-asses. Gage has only played 5 years in the league, and was really only hurt in ONE of them … unfortunately that was his 1 year with us. BTW that was also the ONLY year that he didn’t play on artificial turf in a climate-controlled, indoor stadium. Can’t help but wonder if that might be a difference-maker?

    In his first 4 years Gage only missed 4 games TOTAL (that’s excellent availability, especially for a slot receiver). Not only that, but he improved every single year, with Matt Ryan as his QB all 4 years & playing behind Julio and Ridley as Voice if Truth mentioned. Last year he did miss 4 games, but considering how often he was hurt, I’m impressed that he didn’t miss more. And he did grab 5 TDs (2 more than Chris Godwin & only 1 less than ME13) & contributed 31 first downs. Not really all that shabby for a ‘Porcelain Doll’?

  18. Wild Bill Says:

    So now we are reduced to kicking a guy when he is down. No NFL player chooses to be injured but over the course of a season many are. It’s a major issue for every team. Some of you pot bellied gripers can barely get out your easy chairs to get another beer. I played competitive sports into my early 40’s and a fair number of my team mates, and myself, nursed nagging injuries! That is part of being a competitive and serious athlete in any competitive sport, especially so for the NFL. Many careers are cut short in the NFL. Even by what would be considered relatively minor for most of us. My personal sports injuries included a broken ankle, broken wrist, broken nose , cracked ribs and lower back strain. And none of those were from “contact” sport like football. Most came from years of high school, college and city league basketball. For pro level sports even minor injury can linger indefinitely because most guys play hurt even when they should not. It’s OK to criticise poor effort. But crapping on a guy because of a lingering injury sucks in my opinion.

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    What Wild Bill said ^^^^^^^^

  20. Rod Munch Says:

    Gage, if healthy, is one of the better 3rd WRs in the NFL.

    Yes, you can be a good, or even great, 3rd WR without being an NFL all-timer or even a good starting WR. What in the world was the point of bashing him because someone is talking about him being a great #3 option? Wow, someone’s got a case of the Mondays, just on Wednesday.

  21. Buccos Says:

    I have complete confidence in Russell Gage. He will definitely be a great third receiver with Evans and Godwin. He has enough talent to become a very good slot receiver. Now that we’re moving Godwin back outside Gage can take over his role in the slot. It is probably the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL when healthy

  22. Statguy Says:

    Canales is going to set him up to win this year, watch

  23. Jeffrey Becker Says:

    he doesn’t mean he’s great, he’s means he’s great as a third receiver, which he is if he stays healthy. remember ‘nobody can cover him’ comments from Bucs people when he first joined up? remember his huge year with Atlanta? He didn’t forget how to play, it’s all about health. Good luck Russel pulling for you hard.

  24. EEK Says:

    I appreciate how hard he played when he was on the field

    I hope he can get on the field and play healthy

    He’s a legit talent

  25. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    It’s a slow week. We are discussing, Russell Gage greatness.

  26. Kidfloflo Says:

    Joe is he healthy now ? And how does he look? Last year he was a practice playing stud per Arians

  27. teacherman777 Says:

    I thought he played tough last year.

    I saw him take some huge hits and keep playing.

    Without him, we would have lost to the Packers.

    I think Gage is a badass.

    I’d like to see you “keyboard warriors” take 3 hits in the NFL.

    Most of you would DIE.

    3 hits, and you obese and weak “keyboard warriors” wouldn’t get up again!

  28. Timothyvelasquez Says:

    Not only him secondary was hurt half the time o line . The whole team . Brady was an emotional wreak spent the yr crying about some girl had a back up qb the whole time

  29. tampabuscsbro Says:

    Teacherman we did lose to the packers.

    Also if he would have squeezed on a football thrown to his hands we would have beat the steelers at the end of the game.

  30. 1#bucsfan Says:

    If and it’s a BIG IF he can stay healthy he will produce. He did in ATL and injuries happen. Some more often than others or you get a string of them. Can’t predict them either. I hope he can get healthy. Best trio in the league if all 3 stay healthy

  31. Rod Munch Says:

    tampabuscsbro – yeah, but Gage also played that game because he had to play, had Evans not be suspended for knocking Lattimore’s teeth out, the coaches said he wouldn’t have even been in that game. Also the Packers have some good corners, and I believe they were healthy in that game, and Gage still had a great game.

    Now take his performance there, but make him the #3 WR in the offense, and you’ll get why the Bucs paid him some big money. If healthy, he’s a really good, if not great, #3 WR, who can occasionally start and won’t kill you. That was not true of someone like Humphries, who was a good #3 WR, but could get completely shutdown if he had to start.

  32. Obvious Says:

    There are a few that have commented that I have to say, Well Pointed out, and Well Said.

    The guy didn’t crap the bed. A house fell on top of him and he still stepped up the best he physically could. I’d see it far differently if he just laid down. But he didn’t. I applaud his efforts in his predicament. He wasn’t worth the money in year one but he Did try to earn it.

    Injuries happen to athletes. To play through them is the difference between a winner with true heart and a pure loser. If your not an athlete or never really was a physical person, you simply wouldn’t understand pushing through huge pain. The average human wouldn’t even try. (he hasn’t yet earned the title of a FA bust)

    Now, I have to agree that it’s a bad look to start another season with bad luck BUT as we all know, it’s not how you start that’s the MOST important. We all know, (athlete or not) that it’s how you finish. I’m choosing to have a little faith in him.

  33. garro Says:

    Good on you Joe for not trying to bag the guy. But Gage 2 years running can’t make it through OTAs? Umm I think his stuff is starting to smell.

    I gave him credit for trying to play through injury last season, but now I am starting to doubt myself on that.

    Go Bucs!

  34. 941Boltsfan Says:

    The key words before great “third receiver”.