The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gone from light on tailbacks to fully stocked in less than a week. On Tuesday, the team announced the signing of sixth-year veteran back Jacquizz Rodgers, who played his first four seasons for division-rival Atlanta. Rodgers fills the roster spot created on Monday when defensive end Jacquies Smith was placed on injured reserve.
A few days after cutting their roster down to the regular-season limit of 53 players on September 3, the Buccaneers waived/injured running back Mike James, leaving the team with the prolific tailback duo of Doug Martin and Charles Sims but no depth behind them. As such, rookie running back Peyton Barber was promoted from the practice squad before the season opener on Sunday in Atlanta.
Now Rodgers gives that group an added dimension as a pass-catching change-of-pace back who could also help on kickoff return. The former fifth-round pick out of Oregon State has 156 career receptions, including 53 and 52-catch campaigns with the Falcons in 2012 and 2013.
Overall, Rodgers has played in 68 NFL games with five starts, all but five of them with the Falcons from 2011-14. He signed with the Chicago Bears as an unrestricted free agent in 2015 but played in just five games before landing on injured reserve. The Bears re-signed Rodgers this past March but released him in the league-wide roster cut-down to 53.
In addition to his strong work in the passing game (156 receptions for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns), Rodgers has also logged 319 carries for 1,157 yards and another five scores. As a return man, he has averaged 23.8 yards per attempt on 50 kickoffs, with a long of 77 and a single-season high of 25.7 yards per runback in 2012.