As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to make progress on their own list of free agents, they cleared off the "restricted" portion of that list in one fell swoop on Thursday.
The Buccaneers announced the re-signing of fourth-year tight end Antony Auclair, who could have become a restricted free agent on Wednesday if the team had extended the necessary tender offer. Instead, the Bucs skipped that step by simply signing Auclair to a one-year deal for 2020. It's the same approach the team used with running back Peyton Barber and linebacker Devante Bond a year ago.
Auclair (6-6, 256) figures to have a role in Bruce Arians' offense in 2020. During his time at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Arians referred to Auclair as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. Last year, Auclair was on the field for 31% of the Bucs' offensive snaps before a turf toe injury suffered in Seattle ended his third season prematurely after eight games.
Auclair originally joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in 2017 after playing his college ball at Laval University in Quebec City. He made the 53-man roster as a rookie and eventually supplanted Luke Stocker as the blocking tight end late in the 2017 season. Since then he has played in a total of 32 games with 18 starts, recording 10 catches for 84 yards.
The Buccaneers have been active at the tight end position in recent days. Last Friday they gave a new one-year deal to second-year player Tanner Hudson, who showed great pass-catching promise in preseason last year and got into nine games with one start during the regular season. If the Bucs can get more production out of 2017 first-round pick O.J. Howard in 2020, tight end has the potential to be a position of strength on the team's depth chart.