Bucs put Major Wright on IR, promote TE Westbrook
Most NFL teams wait until the day after their season ends to sign practice-squad players to "futures contracts" so they can compete for roster spots the next season, but the Bucs have gotten a jump on that with three promotions in the past week.
On Tuesday, the Bucs placed Major Wright on injured reserve, a relatively minor transaction that opened up a roster spot, allowing the Bucs to promote former Gators TE Tevin Westbrook to the active roster. The Bucs made two similar moves last week, promoting RB Mike James and WR Evan Spencer.
James and Spencer were both inactive in Sunday's game against Chicago, so the difference between practice squad and inactive is like a $20,000 weekly bonus for the players -- for James, more like $28,000. For the Bucs, they don't have to risk another team stealing the best players from the practice squad next week.
Westbrook will be able to compete for a backup tight end job next fall -- the Bucs likely have Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Luke Stocker and Cameron Brate back as their top three, but the fourth job could be up for grabs. The 6-foot-5, 257-pound prospect has size and athleticism, but had very limited numbers at Florida, with 11 career catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Wright, 27, ends up missing seven games with various injuries -- his production has dropped off for the second year in a row, from getting 100 tackles with the Bears in 2013 to 51 with the Bucs last year to 25 this season. After starting 42 games in his final three years in Chicago, he's started just nine in two seasons with the Bucs, and since he's due to make $1.75-million next season (not guaranteed) in the final year of his contract, there's no guarantee he'll be back with Tampa Bay next fall.