TAMPA — Five days before the season opener, the Bucs made a move to upgrade their depth at wide receiver on Tuesday, signing veteran Cecil Shorts to a one-year contract.
Shorts, 28, was released over the weekend by the Texans, where he played one season after four with the Jaguars. He overlapped one season in Jacksonville with Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who was the offensive coordinator in 2011 when Shorts was a rookie.
Shorts should compete with second-year pro Adam Humphries for the No. 3 receiver job behind starters Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Shorts had 42 catches for 484 yards and two touchdowns last season.
To make room on the 53-man roster, the Bucs waived Evan Spencer, who had made the team Friday as the No. 5 receiver. The son of Bucs running backs coach Tim Spencer, he could join the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Shorts, a 6-foot, 202-pounder, could play inside in the slot for the Bucs or outside, and could factor in the return game. He hasn't returned kickoffs since his rookie year, but handled some punt returns for Houston last season. His five-year career totals are 218 catches for 2,827 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Bucs had depth concerns entering the preseason, and injuries added to that. Veteran Louis Murphy will miss at least five games as he recovers from knee surgery, and three young receivers trying to make the roster — Donteea Dye, Bernard Reedy and Kenny Bell — were hurt in the past two weeks.
Shorts' best season came with the Jaguars in 2012, when he had 55 catches for 979 yards and seven touchdowns. His average of 17.8 yards per catch was the second-best in the NFL, trailing only the Bucs' Jackson.
Financial terms of the deal weren't immediately disclosed, but Shorts took a pay cut in June with the hopes of not being cut in Houston.
Tuesday's move was the first since the Bucs set their initial 53-man roster Friday, and the team could make additional tweaks between now and Sunday's game at the Falcons.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.