On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they had re-signed seventh-year offensive tackle Josh Wells, who served as the team's primary reserve at that position in 2019. Wells had become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year on March 18.
Wells is the 11th free agent or potential free agent from the Buccaneers' 2019 roster to return to the team. The team previously re-signed safety Andrew Adams, tight end Antony Auclair, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, linebacker Kevin Minter, wide receiver Bryant Mitchell, defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, cornerback Ryan Smith and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. The Buccaneers also used their franchise tag on outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who has indicated he will play in Tampa in 2020, either on the tag or with a new long-term deal.
The Buccaneers first signed Wells in Week Two of the 2019 regular season after he had been released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the league-wide final roster cuts. He had spent his first five years in Jacksonville, including one on injured reserve, after first signing as an undrafted free agent out of James Madison in 2014.
Wells (6-6, 306) was inactive for his first game in Tampa but then took over as the "swing tackle" in Week Three and was active for the final 14 weeks of the season. He made one start each at right and left tackle, first filling in for Demar Dotson on the right side against Carolina in Week Six. In Week 14, when Donovan Smith missed a game for the first time in his five-year career, Wells stepped in at left tackle.
Wells also started nine games over his last two years in Jacksonville, seeing action at both tackle spots. He spent the 2015 season on injured reserve and also missed time due to injury in 2016 and 2018 but has played in 52 career regular-season games. He made the Jaguars' active roster to begin his rookie season despite his undrafted status.
Dotson remains an unsigned free agent, as does the team's fourth tackle in 2019, Jerald Hawkins. However, the Bucs used their first pick in 2020 NFL Draft to land Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs and also signed versatile former Colts lineman Joe Haeg, thereby maintaining solid depth at the tackle position.