Five days before they open the 2016 season, the Bucs have made a move to upgrade their depth at wide receiver, signing free agent Cecil Shorts to a one-year contract on Tuesday.
Shorts, 28, was released this weekend by the Texans, where he played one season after four with the Jaguars. He overlapped one season there with Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who was Jacksonville's offensive coordinator his rookie year in 2011.
Shorts should compete with second-year pro Adam Humphries for the No. 3 receiver job behind starters Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. To make room on the 53-man roster, the Bucs waived Evan Spencer, who had made the team Friday as the Bucs' No. 5 receiver. The son of Bucs running backs coach Tim Spencer, he would be a candidate to join the team's practice squad if he clears waivers.
Short had 42 catches for 484 yards and two touchdowns last season, the receptions and yardage both his lowest since his rookie year. The 6-foot, 202-pound receiver could play inside in the slot for the Bucs or outside, and could be a factor in the Bucs' return game. He hasn't returned kickoffs since his rookie year, but handled some punt returns for Houston last season. His five-year NFL career totals are 218 catches for 2,827 yards and 14 touchdowns, a success story out of tiny Mount Union.
The Bucs had depth concerns entering the preseason, and injuries have added to that. Veteran Louis Murphy will miss at least five games as he recovers from knee surgery, and three receivers trying to make the roster -- Donteea Dye, Bernard Reedy and Kenny Bell -- suffered injuries in the last two weeks.
Financial terms of the deal weren't immediately disclosed, but he had taken a pay cut in June from the Texans, lowering his base salary from $2.75-million to $1.2-million with the hopes of not being cut.