The Buccaneers' title defense will begin with several players on their Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. One of those players is receiver Justin Watson, who is expected to be out for at least for months after undergoing a knee procedure, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Joining Watson on the team's PUP list are tight end Cameron Brate, receiver John Franklin and cornerback Chris Wilcox.
A fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft, Watson is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Although he hasn't been a huge factor in Tampa Bay's passing game, Watson has been a steady force on special teams with 20 tackles on coverage units. He made one special teams tackle during the Buccaneers' victory over the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
After catching just one pass during his rookie season, Watson set career highs with 15 receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin struggling with injuries, Watson made two starts in the Buccaneers' first four games of the 2020 season. He caught seven of 11 targets for 94 yards over that span that included a season-high four receptions in Tampa Bay's Week 4 win over the Chargers. Watson did not catch another pass during the 2020 season, however, as the Buccaneers received solid contributions from then-second-year receiver Scott Miller and Antonio Brown, who was acquired at midseason.
With Brate and Watson on the PUP list, the Buccaneers signed De'Quan Hampton, a former receiver at USC who most recently played for the Los Angeles Wildcats of the now-defunct XFL. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Hampton, who was signed to play tight end for the Buccaneers, had training camp stints with the Lions and Saints after not being selected in the 2017 draft.