The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a move to strengthen their special teams units and bolster their defensive line depth on Tuesday, re-signing fourth-year player Patrick O'Connor. Last season, O'Connor led all Buccaneers players with 344 special teams snaps despite missing the last three games of the season due to a knee injury and being on the inactive list for another game in October.
O'Connor became the equivalent of an unrestricted free agent in March when the Buccaneers elected not to extend the qualifying offer necessary to make him a restricted free agent. Still, the team was eager to bring back a player who has been one of their top performers in the kick and return phase of the game over the last three seasons. In the games in which he did play in 2021, he was on the field for 93% of Tampa Bay's special teams snaps.
O'Connor also saw occasional action as part of the defensive line rotation, recording three tackles, a tackle for loss, a half-sack and two quarterback hits.
Originally a seventh-round pick by the Detroit Lions in 2017, O'Connor first joined the Buccaneers in October of his rookie season, signing first to the practice squad and then getting a promotion to the active roster in late November. He saw action in three games for the Bucs that season then spent all of 2018 on the practice squad before playing in eight more contests in 2019. Over the past two seasons he has played in all but one game when healthy.
In all, O'Connor has appeared in 44 games for Tampa Bay, including the playoffs. He has recorded 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hits on defense, adding six stops on special teams. He played his college football at Eastern Michigan.