Justin Watson, Penn alumnus and a current wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will miss four months after being placed on the physically unable to perform list. First reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the move was prompted by a recent surgical procedure Watson had on his knee.
The injury will sideline the former Penn standout through all of Buccaneers training camp as well as the preseason. Those times are important parts of the year for a player like Watson, who uses the offseason to prove that he is worthy of a roster spot.
Since being selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, Watson has seen limited action as a wide receiver on the talented Tampa Bay team. With the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and most recently Antonio Brown, it can be difficult for a player like Watson to make a large offensive impact. In his three seasons, he has had 23 receptions for 258 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Watson has, however, become a key part of the Buccaneers special teams unit, which has kept his spot on the team safe.
Tampa Bay entered this offseason with even more talent in their wide receiver room following their Super Bowl victory. The team returns Evans, Godwin, and Brown in addition to supplementary playmakers Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. The team also used a fourth-round pick on Jaelon Darden, a rookie from the University of North Texas.
Missing out on this critical part of the offseason will prevent Watson from receiving quality reps in training camp and preseason. It could also allow other players, like Johnson and Darden, the chance to move up on the depth chart into the spot previously occupied by Watson.
As the offseason progresses, Watson will hope that his prior impact on the Buccaneers special teams unit will be enough to secure his spot on the defending champions’ roster.