Donteea Dye returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as soon as he possibly could. As it turns out, his timing was fortuitous.
The Buccaneers promoted Dye, a second-year wide receiver who played in 10 games for the team as a rookie in 2015, to the 53-man roster on Wednesday. He had just rejoined the team on Monday as a member of the practice squad. To fill the spot Dye vacated on that 10-man crew, the team re-signed rookie running back Russell Hansbrough.
The Buccaneers had previously waived the former undrafted free agent on August 30, during the league-wide roster cuts from 90 to 75 players. Because Dye was waived with an injury settlement, he was prohibited from re-signing with Tampa Bay for a period of three weeks plus the length of the settlement (three regular-season games). That meant that the earliest possible return day for the young receiver was this past Monday. Dye could have signed with any other team in the interim.
Last year, Dye became just the 12th player ever from Heidelberg University to make it in the NFL, and only the second since the mid-'80s. He began his rookie season on Tampa Bay's practice squad but was promoted to the active roster in Week Five and eventually saw action in 10 games with six starts after injuries to Louis Murphy and Vincent Jackson. Not coincidentally, Dye's most recent promotion fills a roster spot opened when Jackson was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.
With the addition of Dye, the Buccaneers now have five wide receivers on the 53-man roster, as he joins Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, Russell Shepard and Cecil Shorts. Wide receiver Louis Murphy, who is on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list, also began practicing on Monday and could be activated at any point over the next three weeks. Shorts returned to practice on Monday, as well, after missing time due to a hamstring injury sustained in Week Two.
Last year, the 6-0, 195-pound Dye caught 11 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown. He set a personal high with four receptions in the season finale at Carolina. At Heidelberg, he caught 116 passes for 2,298 yards and 26 touchdowns over four seasons, including a 1,022-yard, 14-touchdown campaign as a senior in 2014.
Hansbrough also entered the league as an undrafted free agent after playing his college ball at Missouri. He has spent one week on the practice squad and one week on the active roster so far this season, making his NFL debut last Monday in the Bucs' road win at Carolina.