- Though rookie RB Charles Sims is headed to I.R., the designated-for-return tag will allow him to play again in 2014
- The spot opened by Sims' move was used to re-sign veteran S Major Wright, who thrived in Lovie Smith's defense in Chicago
- With Wright back in the fold, the Bucs have four healthy safeties to take into the season opener on Sunday
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the anticipated move with rookie running back Charles Sims on Wednesday and regained some defensive depth in the process.
Sims was placed on injured reserve, but with a catch. He got the team's lone "designated for return" option of the season, which means he can play for the Buccaneers again in 2014. Sims must sit out at least six weeks from the day he was put on injured reserve, but the ankle injury he suffered during an August practice is expected to sideline him until roughly midseason.
That move cleared up a spot on the active roster, which the team used to bring back veteran safety Major Wright. Wright was released last Friday during the final round of roster cuts that produced the 53-man squad for the regular season.
The move with Sims was expected; his situation is exactly the type for which the new rule was enacted in 2012. Sims' ankle injury required surgery on August 16, from which the recovery time was expected to be 10-12 weeks. Under the old I.R. rules, the Bucs' only two options would have been to place Sims on injured reserve and lose him for the entire season or carry him on the 53-man roster and essentially be a man down for half the year.
The Bucs had to keep Sims on the roster and through the final cutdown weekend before they could put him on injured reserve without subjecting him to waivers. Obviously, they did so with the intention of eventually using his freed-up spot for one of the players they had difficulty parting ways with over the weekend. As it turns out, that was Wright, one of the team's more surprising cuts last weekend. With safety Bradley McDougald slowed by a knee injury suffered in the third week of the preseason, Wright gives the team four healthy safeties heading into the season opener on Sunday.
S Major Wright (31) picked off nine passes for the Bears from 2012-14; RB Charles Sims (34) could return to action this season
The Buccaneers signed Wright in early April, at the tail end of a very aggressive and fruitful run through free agency. Wright started the majority of the last three seasons at strong safety for the Chicago Bears, picking off nine passes during that time and returning three of them for touchdowns. In all, he played in 54 games with 42 starts in his four seasons in Chicago, racking up 253 tackles, nine interceptions, 18 passes defensed and three forced fumbles. After setting a personal high with four interceptions in 2012, he recorded a career-best 100 tackles last fall despite missing one contest.
The 75th overall pick in the 2010 draft, Wright saw action in 11 games as a reserve in his rookie season before moving into the starting lineup in 2011, replacing Danieal Manning. In 2012, Smith's final season as the head coach in Chicago, Wright started all 16 games for a defense that ranked fifth in the NFL in yards allowed and third in points allowed, ranking second on that squad with his four interceptions.
At the University of Florida, Wright was a Freshman All-American in 2007 and a 14-game starter for the Gators' 2008 BCS Championship team. In the BCS title game, he helped Florida defeat Oklahoma by contributing nine tackles and an interception.