Earl Watford spent all of 2019 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now he's back in time to help the 2020 team prepare for Super Bowl LV.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers re-signed Watford, a versatile veteran offensive lineman, to their practice squad. To make room on that 16-man crew, the team released rookie guard Nick Leverett.
Tampa Bay has made a series of moves along their interior offensive line since reserve center A.Q. Shipley went on injured reserve on November 28, a process that continued when starting right guard Alex Cappa suffered a fractured ankle in the Wild Card win at Washington on January 9. First the Bucs signed veteran guard Ted Larsen, who has extensive NFL starting experience including some with Bruce Arians in Chicago, to the practice squad. Larsen has since been elevated to the game day roster four times, appearing in two games.
After Cappa was placed on injured reserve, third-year reserve Aaron Stinnie moved into the starting lineup and Watford, who also has extensive experience in Arians' offense from his Arizona days, was signed to shore up the interior-line depth on January 15. Last week, the Buccaneers waived Watford to create a spot for returning defensive lineman Vita Vea on the active roster, and now they have brough Watford back to the practice squad. Larsen and Watford are eligible to be potential elevations from the practice squad for the Super Bowl on February 7.
In 2019, Watford appeared in 15 games for the Buccaneers with four starts. Three of those starts came at right guard in place of an injured Cappa. Watford, who was originally a fourth-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, also played in 43 games with 21 starts under Arians from 2014-17. He spent the 2018 season with the Cleveland Browns, appearing in 13 games.
Leverett was signed by the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Rice last May. He was on the practice squad for all 17 weeks of the regular season, then was released on January 6 and re-signed on January 19.