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Free Agent Spotlight: WR, Chester Rogers

With questions of what Breshad Perriman will cost after breaking out, should the Bucs look to fill their receiver depth in free agency?

Chester Rogers #80 of the Indianapolis Colts 
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Buccaneers’ receiver room contains two of the most talented receivers in the NFL in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Their third receiver, Breshad Perriman, may not be back based on the contract he will command after exploding onto the scene once Evans and Godwin went down with injuries. This leaves Justin Watson and Scotty Miller as the third and fourth options, but were their performances good enough to remain in those spots? Many would argue no, meaning that Tampa Bay would have to pick up some additional weapons in either free agency, or the draft. This is where Chester Rogers comes in.

CHESTER ROGERS’ CAREER THUS FAR

Rogers was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 after a solid four year career at Grambling State. Throughout his four seasons in Indy, he mostly played a complementary piece to a dynamic offense headed by Andrew Luck and TY Hilton.

The former Tiger found himself with limited snaps in his rookie season, playing only 39.7% of offensive snaps and 11.2% of special teams snaps*. In this limited capacity, the 6’ 184 lb receiver accumulated 19 catches, 273 yards, and 0 touchdowns through 14 games.

Through the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he seemingly gained more trust from his coaches, which was shown by them playing him for a total of 43.2% and 52.3% of offensive snaps, respectively*. His 2018 season saw him adding 53 caches, 485 yards, and 2 touchdowns through all 16 games. The Colts obviously saw promise in him as they signed him to a 1-yr ~$3 million contract once he became a restricted free agent.

Unfortunately, this success did not continue through to the 2019 season as he did not play up to his billing. His production dropped to 16 catches, 179 yards, and 2 touchdowns through 12 games. He finished up the season on IR after he suffered a fractured knee against the Titans in week 13.

On top of his receiving duties, he was the Colts’ primary punt returner through the 2018 and 2019 seasons and has averaged 9.2 yards per return through his entire career. This 9.2 yard average is pretty good, which means that he adds additional value on special teams.

WHY IT WORKS

We know that Bruce Arians loves to air it out. No matter who is at quarterback, it can be reasonably assumed that Arians is going to pass more often than not. This means that the Bucs need good depth at the wide receiver position, and with Perriman potentially out, the Bucs can use all of the experienced depth they can.

Justin Watson didn’t necessarily play his way onto the 2020 roster, so the former fifth-round receiver out of Penn may find himself being replaced by the smaller and quicker Rogers. Even if he stays, the Bucs found themselves in quite a hole once Evans and Godwin went on IR, which demonstrated just how desperate they were for solid depth.

While Rogers is not the most dynamic receiver, he is a serviceable slot and shows the most of his value on short to intermediate routes and was used quite often in the screen game. He has good agility, ok to good speed, and can separate well later in routes, making his floor pretty acceptable.

Another reason this works is because he adds in the punt return game. It’s no secret that Tampa Bay’s punt return game wasn’t very good, especially considering that it only averaged 5.2 yards per return. While this is not all on the returner, the returner being more dynamic obviously raises the average return and can help improve field position.

BUT...

He just didn’t play all that well in 2019 despite making around $3 million. His overall production dropped drastically and he didn’t play well enough to warrant the 1-year contract the Colts granted him. This was probably due to the retirement of Andrew Luck, and the inconsistent quarterback play that marred the Colts 2019 season. However, Andrew Luck won’t be throwing to him in Tampa either.

When I said that he had ok to good speed, it really isn’t anything to write home about for a guy of his size. The Colts found speed options that they liked better and may be why they didn’t use him very much in 2019. His smaller stature also limits his ability to make strong contested catches when he isn’t able to find separation. While his floor is acceptable, his ceiling isn’t very spectacular.

Despite his value on special teams, the Bucs already have a guy they seem to like in TJ Logan, who was the best returner on the team until his season was cut short to injury. Logan averaged 9.5 yards per return, despite working with a return team that couldn’t return anything without him. Also of concern is that he does not really add much as a kickoff returner, and even if he did, Logan was fairly successful in that as well.

WHAT’S THE COST?

While he did sign a contract worth a little over $3 million in 2019, his performance does not warrant this kind of payout in 2020. Overthecap.com has him valued at just slightly over $1 million, which the Bucs would not have trouble finding in their cap budget for the upcoming season. He might want more, but this is above the vet minimum (at least with the old CBA) and he didn’t necessarily play himself into a great payday.

This is depth money, for a guy that showed he can at least be the number three receiver in a few seasons with the Colts. The value is there, but do the Bucs have any interest?

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW

We don’t know if this guy is even on the Buccaneers’ radar. Should he be? It’s hard to say. While I do believe they will improve their receiver depth this off-season, this draft class is FULL of great receiver talent, which will likely push better guys to later rounds.

Additionally, we don’t know if the Colts want to re-sign him. While they did rely on him this year prior to the injury, the Colts’ drafting of Paris Campbell in 2019 was indicative of their intention to upgrade the position. Unfortunately for Campbell, his season ended on IR, which led to the necessity to keep a guy like Rogers around. They may just decide to just move forward with Campbell going into 2020, leaving Rogers to find a new team in free agency.

MAKE THE DECISION

Do you think Rogers would be a good fit in this offense? Would you want him to provide some good depth at a low price, or do you not think he’s worth signing on? Let’s see what you think in the comments below.

Poll

When It Comes To Chester Rogers, What Would You Have The Buccaneers Do?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Sign Him, No Matter What
    (1 vote)
  • 13%
    Make An Offer, But Keep It Reasonable
    (5 votes)
  • 16%
    Invite Him For A Cup Of Coffee And See Where It Goes From There
    (6 votes)
  • 27%
    Call Him Up If They Have A Need After The Draft
    (10 votes)
  • 40%
    Don’t Need Him
    (15 votes)
37 votes total Vote Now

*According to Overthecap.com