We're still a handful of weeks away from the NFL regular season starting, but already the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a problem to solve on offense.
While the quarterback situation remains up in the air, the new challenge consists of finding a way to replace starting slot receiver Russell Gage. After suffering a 'severe' leg injury during a joint practice with the Jets, Gage is going to miss the entire regular season and has vacated a key spot on the Bucs offense.
The question now becomes who will step up and replace him?
There’s one guy who is so obvious we’re not going to include him here in the four option. Trey Palmer is absolutely lighting it up at training camp, and looks like another Jason Licht draft steal. He slots perfectly into the WR3 role, assuming the Bucs don’t go out and sign someone like Jarvis Landry, and could make a big leap in his first year.
He’s a rookie, though, which means it’s a risk to bump him up that high. If there’s a guy who can likely get the most out of his skills it’s Dave Canales, so there’s reason to believe the leap can work out.
While we’re here, the Jarvis Landry — or any free agent — sugggetsion comes with the massive caveat that the Bucs have next to no money to spend. Tampa Bay has about $682k in cap space which makes bringing in a free agent more complicated than it might be worth.
If it’s not Trey Palmer stepping up as WR3, who else could help replace Russell Gage?
4 replacement for Russell Gage after season-ending injury
Warner joined the Bucs as an undrafted free agent back in May, and now has an even better opportunity to make the team than he already did. He didn't light the world on fire at Kansas State but has Scotty Miller vibes in terms of what he could bring to Dave Canales' offense.
Something that's working in Warner's favor here is that he doesn't need to be the 1-to-1 replacement for Gage, or win that sort of role. Instead, his path to a roster spot cleared up a bit and he can now use the remainder of training camp to prove he can be a part of a slot rotation alongside someone else. He's already getting practice reps at the right spot and now presumably moves up to third on the depth chart after Gage's injury.
He came to camp as a sleeper to earn a spot as it was, but now Warner is in a position to truly earn his keep.