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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Justin Peelle Added to Bucs' Staff to Tutor Tight Ends

Justin Peelle, who previously helped tight ends to Pro Bowl seasons in Philadelphia and Atlanta, has been hired to coach that position on Todd Bowles' staff, with John Van Dam moving over to pass game assistant


On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced the addition of Justin Peelle to Todd Bowles' coaching staff. Peelle will coach the tight ends after John Van Dam took on a new role as pass game assistant.

Peelle stays in the NFC South, as he spent the last three seasons as the tight ends coach for the Atlanta Falcons. Under his tutelage, Kyle Pitts caught 68 passes for 1,026 yards in 2021, earning a Pro Bowl invite and setting the Falcons' single-season record for yards by a rookie. Pitts joined Hall of Famer Mike Ditka as the only tight ends in NFL history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards as a rookie,

Last season, the Falcons had two highly-productive tight ends, as Pitts racked up another 667 yards and Jonnu Smith added 582. Overall, Atlanta's tight end group was the most prolific in the NFL in 2023, combining for a league-leading 1,380 receiving yards, with seven touchdowns on 114 receptions.

Prior to joining Arthur Smith's staff in Atlanta, Peelle spent his first eight seasons in the NFL coaching ranks with the Philadelphia Eagles, working with such productive tight ends as Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Peelle started out as an assistant tight ends coach on Chip Kelly's staff in 2013 and was then promoted to tight ends coach in 2015. When Doug Pederson replaced Kelly as the Eagles' head coach in 2016, he retained Peelle on his staff through the 2020 campaign.

Peelle started his coaching career in Philadelphia the same year the team drafted Zach Ertz and subsequently helped Ertz develop into one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. Ertz made the Pro Bowl three straight years from 2017-19 and in 2018 set the NFL's single-season record for receptions by a tight end with 116. Peelle also earned a Super Bowl ring after Ertz caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl LII.

With Ertz and Goedert together in Peelle's position group, the Eagles led all tight end groups from 2018-20 with 417 receptions and 4,388 yards, and they finished third in that span with 31 touchdown grabs.

Peelle knows the tight end position well because he played it for 10 seasons in the NFL, with stints in San Diego, Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco. A fourth-round draft pick by the Chargers in 2002, the former Oregon standout played in 151 regular-season games in the NFL, with 68 starts. He finished his playing career with 123 receptions for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Peelle inherits one of the youngest tight end groups in the NFL. Starter Cade Otton was a fourth-round draft pick in 2022, the same year the Bucs selected Ko Kieft in the sixth round. Last year, the Buccaneers added Payne Durham to the room with a fifth-round draft pick. Those three accounted for 1,574 of the 1,617 offensive snaps logged by tight ends for Tampa Bay in 2023.

Van Dam is heading into his sixth season on the Buccaneers' coaching staff. He arrived in Tampa in 2019 to serve as an offensive quality control coach under new Head Coach Bruce Arians, then was named the assistant tight ends coach in 2021. He takes on his new role in 2024 after two seasons as the tight ends coach.

View the top pictures of Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield from his career with Tampa Bay thus far!

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