The Bucs And Van Jefferson

February 2nd, 2024

The Russell Gage Experience is in its final days.

The former Falcons receiver was ok for the Bucs in 2022 (51 catches for 426 yards and 5 touchdowns), but the Bucs were hoping for more considering Gage’s eight-figure salary. Then Gage blew out his knee in an August 2023 practice with the Jets in New Jersey, about 35 yards from where Joe was standing. Ugly stuff.

The Bucs can get out of Gage’s contract this offseason with minimal damage and likely will.

But what next at receiver?

Trey Palmer had an up-and-down rookie season (39 catches, 389 yards and 3 TDs) plus a big touchdown catch-and-run in the playoffs. He’ll be back. Surging veteran David Moore will be a free agent and Joe suspects there’s a great chance he will follow Dave Canales to Carolina. Canales had recommended Moore to the Bucs. Rookie Rakim Jarrett (4 catches) will be back but Joe suspects receiver/returner Deven Thompkins won’t make the 2024 roster, not with a new coaches for special teams and at offensive coordinator.

If the Bucs, as expected, hire former Rams OC Liam Coen to call plays, then Joe would pay close attention to receiver Van Jefferson in free agency. He played with Baker Mayfield and under Coen in Los Angeles, and Coen was there when Jefferson was drafted (2020, Round 2).

Jefferson thrived in 2021 but lost that form in 2022. Midway through the 2023 season, he was traded to the Falcons as the Rams had a fresh load of talented receivers alongside Cooper Kupp, including stunning rookie “Puka” Nacua (105 receptions).

Jefferson could be one of those forgotten high-value free agent wild cards — higher value to a coordinator and a quarterback that know him well.

37 Responses to “The Bucs And Van Jefferson”

  1. Alanbucsfan Says:

    If the Rams don’t want him, he probably has injuries.
    Draft a stud WR in 1st round- who can play this year, not sit on the bench.

  2. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Is Gage still under contract? If so, he may still get a shot to contribute. Maybe he will be worth it.

  3. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Get Pearsall in the second.

  4. Marine Buc Says:

    Why won’t Devin Thompkins be back?

    He is a very solid punt returner with great hands. I’ve never noticed him fumbling or even bobbling a punt.

    As a receiver he is small but there are other smallish receivers who thrive when used properly.

    I can’t imagine Thompkins being a very expensive free agent and I hope he does return…

  5. Scott Says:

    That guy sucks

  6. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Coen is probably the best option left, he’s experienced calling plays (although not at pro level). Not sure about Jefferson, one of those guys who never seemed to play up to his skills. Might have been a McVay thing though, he loses patience pretty quick

  7. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Another injury prone overhyped ex-Gator WR. HARD PASS

  8. Scott Says:

    Tutu Atwell and Ben Skwronek surpassed him on the depth chart. He was given plenty of opportunity

  9. NutterBuccer Says:

    Would be a great addition as a 4/5 WR

  10. Allbuccedup Says:


  11. #99 the big fella Says:

    Did anyone pay attention to Kentuckys offense.? He had a. Good offense and got the most out of what they had.. oh and his running back was really good. Look for the Bucs to have interest in this upcoming draft.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Jack Burton Mercer … ‘Is Gage still under contract? If so, he may still get a shot to contribute. Maybe he will be worth it.’

    Yes Russell Gage is under contract for 2024, but I’d almost bet that he’s a goner. His salary CAP Hit is $13.4 mil, but his Dead CAP is only $2.2 mil. Also has a Dead CAP in 2025 of $3.5 mil if we release him.

    Bottom line to me though is that Gage is a very capable WR who’s been snake-bit in Tampa. We can release him this year and save over $11 mil in salary CAP. Even if Bucs set aside enough to cover next year’s $3.5 mil Dead CAP, that’d still be a savings of close to $8 mil. That’ll buy a lot of groceries.

    If Bucs can’t re-sign Mike Evans, I’d draft a replacement WR (Rnd 1 or Rnd 2) this year. Chris Godwin is solid as a rock, and I thought Trey Palmer improved quite a bit as the year went on. I’d also make it a priority to bring back David Moore (personally thought that he was fantastic). And yes, I thought the same about Chase Edmonds (he’ll make a good 3rd RB if we re-sign him).

    Palmer BTW had an interesting rookie year. Got in on a lot of action for a rookie (718 offensive snaps in 17 games) … 39 catches out of 68 targets (57.4%) for 385 yards. On the surface that’s very pedestrian, but he had 3 games (Carolina twice & Detroit) that he really struggled in for some reason (6 catches in 18 targets). In the other 14 games he did quite well IMO (33 catches out of 50 targets for 66.7%). Maybe the routes he was running just didn’t match up well with those particular CBs?

  13. Conner50 Says:

    Van Jefferson > Russell Gage
    But Mike Evans is the real important one here over any other wr period

  14. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Ray Davis will be 25 this year! Hard pass unless he’s a udfa.

  15. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    I could never figure out why David Moore didn’t get more snaps on offense this season.

    He was one of our best receivers during preseason and was cut.

    Then he was added to the practice squad and anytime he got a chance to play he made some big plays.

    I hope they can bring him back but he might be joining his buddy Canales in Carolina.

  16. J Dubb Says:

    No thanks, but Cam Akers or Sarrell Henderson to back up R. White would be nice.

  17. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I’d rather give Palmer more snaps than this guy, or invest in the draft. Maybe if it’s a close to vet minimum 4th WR role.

    If Evans somehow walks we need to spend that $$ on a premier FA pass rusher and then we are free to take a WR in R1 if the value is right, or R2/R3.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    Marine Buc … ‘Why won’t Devin Thompkins be back?’

    I was wondering the same thing. Devin didn’t set the world on fire, but he was certainly better than what we had back at PR & KR the past few years. As a WR he didn’t handle the ball much, but did quite well when he did I thought: 8 rushes for 56 yds (7.0 YPC) plus caught 17 out of 25 targets for 83 yards (68.0%) (4.9 Y/R). Got in on roughly a quarter of our offensive plays (251 snaps) and improved quite a bit over 2022.

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    Marine Buc … ‘I hope they can bring him (Moore) back but he might be joining his buddy Canales in Carolina.’

    Not if the Bucs make him a decent early offer. We still own the right to negotiate with him first.

  20. Tony Says:

    Nope go draft Jerry Rice’s son or Ed’s son/Christian McCaffrey’s brother. Since Marvin Harrison’s son will be gone by then if they want another WR. Just like Antoine they already have an advantage because they’ve been around football their whole life it’s in the family & they’ve been learning from some of the best players overall, too! Just like Antoine. Jerry was the best WR overall, Ed was a pretty decent WR & Christian has turned out just fine, too!

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    Lord C … I prefer your approach too (maybe someone like Brian Burns from Carolina?). Burns has a Market Value of $21.7 mil, but it might not take THAT much to sign him. He only (?) had 8 sacks this past year, but has 46 sacks total in his 5 years with the Panthers (9 per year average with a high of 12.5 in 2022). Gave Carolina 80 games in 5 years (16 GPY) so durability doesn’t sound like an issue.

    Another Carolina guy I hope the Bucs keep an eye on is CJ Henderson (CB). He’s got a Market Value of $8.5 mil, but has a decent resume. 6’1″ & 205 lbs with 4.39 speed. Had a nice 2022 season (all 17 games), but was apparently hurt some last year (only 12 games). Certainly worth kicking the tires on.

  22. WyomingJoe Says:

    MUST SIGN MAYFIELD. That will happen.

    MUST SIGN EVANS. Really hope that happens, because of his talent and the leadership he brings to the team.

    MUST GET A CENTER AND GUARD IN DRAFT OR FA. Give Baker just a little more protection and this offense will ball out.

    WOULD LOVE a bruiser at RB to compliment White.

    I see no reason not to reply-sign Moore and Thompkins. I like Van Jefferson, but would cost much more than both those guys.

  23. Tony Says:

    Maybe the Bucs could trade Russell Gage for Puka Nacua or Cooper Kupp if they get the dude from Kentucky?😀 I was alright with them drafting Palmer but I actually would’ve leaned more towards Nacua. Same thing when Cooper was coming out. I would’ve drafted him, too!

  24. Tony Says:


    Yep. Probably somebody like Van Pran, Frazier, Mahogany & Haynes.

  25. Tony Marks Says:

    He had a shining moment with Baker but honestly never seemed to do too much on a regular basis.

  26. catcard202 Says:

    I’m not worried about trying to grab a WR with a background of working with Coen…If Evans & Baker are resigned…Pairing those 2 w/ Godwin, Palmer, White & Otton…Bucs would have plenty of weapons to be utilized by Liam in his version of the McVay OFF.

    Solve the OC / LG concerns in FA or the Draft…2024 Bucs OFF could be a 11-12 Win probability kind of season if the Bucs D is base-line to 2022/2023.

    But just a note from here in KY….Coen’s camp has stated to local UK reporters that there’s still plenty of details to be worked out & no offer has been made as of yet!

  27. dmatt Says:

    Marine Buc,
    You’re on point with Devin Thompkins. The guy is small but has heart, he doesn’t shy away from contact like others 30-40 lbs bigger than him. He’s not being used the right way in our system. He’s an inch away from breaking the big one. The kid has great hands and an awesome vertical leap.

  28. adam from ny Says:

    i mentioned getting him a while back in a previous thread…

    i like him a lot as a 3rd…

    he’s a system player, and you can catch lightning in a bottle with him – with coen and baker…get him…

    just my 2 cents

  29. Ha-Ha-Ha Says:

    This is supposedly a deep WR class.
    The Bucs aren’t in a position to get the top talent at a thin position.
    There’s no shame in drafting a solid player over a reach.
    What happens if Dave Canoodle wants Mayfield to teach his system and offers 3yr, $150,000?
    Carolina can afford it and Evens too. They won’t have much left for the rest of the team, but what a way to start your system.

  30. GottiDog052084 Says:

    If they’re thinking about poaching a player from Carolina they wouldn’t go wrong getting Frankie Luvu….

  31. itzok Says:

    Gage is terrible he can’t catch the ball with his hands. He’s a body catcher and reminds me of ridell anthony who also couldn’t catch the ball.

  32. lanshark Says:

    Atwell and Baker played very well together. Skowronek would also be a great pickup.

  33. Robert Says:

    I don’t understand the fascination with Gage. He has done absolutely nothing since he has been with the Bucs.

  34. Robert Says:

    Russell Gage has 426 yards since joining the Bucs.

  35. Robert Says:

    If they keep Gage he will count $13,350,000 against the cap. Cut him and his dead money hit is 2 mil. No brainer. Good riddance

  36. Rod Munch Says:

    Robert Says:
    February 2nd, 2024 at 8:41 pm
    If they keep Gage he will count $13,350,000 against the cap. Cut him and his dead money hit is 2 mil. No brainer.


    I see the dead money at $7m, which actually makes it less of a no brainer since you’re going to have to still replace him, and you’ll have $6.4m to do it. If Gage is healthy, which is a big if, he’s worth well more than $6.4m – but it all comes down to his health.

    This is a harder move than people are saying. Your standard starting WRs now are making $20m a year, so getting someone who is a very good 3rd WR that can start if needed for what the Bucs will save on the cap is going to be difficult.

  37. Pickgrin Says:

    There’s $3.5M spread over 3 dummy years at the end of Gage’s contract.

    That was just an accounting method of pushing $ paid down the road that they did with numerous players during the Brady years.

    Aside from that – Gage’s cap #s are pretty straight forward.

    Without another restructure (Gage did restructure and agree to take less guaranteed $ last offseason) – Russell Gage counts $13.35M against the cap in the final year of his contract with the Bucs. This includes $10M in base salary.

    If we cut him – then the Dead Cap hit is $2.16M. (the $3.5M of kicked can $ mentioned above is still owed against the cap but doesn’t come due until 2025)

    $13.3M to keep perpetually injured Russell Gage – $2.1M to get rid of him….
    Gee – I wonder what the Bucs will do????