TAMPA – When Buccaneers cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah first fractured his right kneecap last November, he was given the option of having surgery to repair it. He passed. He isn’t expected to pass now.
Though the Bucs have yet to announce it officially, the expectation is that Adjei-Barimah will indeed have surgery to repair the kneecap he re-injured in practice last week.
The move will almost certainly end Adjei-Barimah’s season before it even starts and while they actually feel pretty good about their depth it will probably leave the Bucs on the lookout for a replacement.
If they’re willing to be patient, and they may have no choice now that the NFL is no longer forcing teams to gradually whittle their rosters down to the 53-man limit, they may find one in Kyle Fuller.
A 2014 first-round pick of the Bears, Fuller has apparently fallen out of favor in Chicago, where there’s talk that the Bears may eventually try to trade the former Virginia Tech standout and 2014 NFL All-Rookie team member.
The trade talks are said to be going nowhere because it’s known across the league that Fuller isn’t likely to make the Bears squad, but that could change now the Bucs may be in the market for a corner.
Granted, Fuller has played mostly outside for the Bears while Adjei-Barimah has played mostly in the slot for the Bucs, but Adjei-Barimah was spending most of his time in camp this year on the outside.
Fuller would come with some risk. He missed all of last season after having knee surgery himself, but he has the ability to make an impact on special teams and that’s what makes him an interesting target.
After losing gunner Russell Shepard in free agency, the Bucs feel as if they have little choice but to keep fellow gunner Josh Robinson around even though he doesn’t give them much on defense.
A corner during his time at UCF and with the Vikings, Robinson was eventually moved to safety last year and that’s where he is currently listed on the roster.
The plan is for the Bucs to keep him, possibly as a fifth safety, because of his value as a gunner, but the addition of Fuller might give the Bucs a more complete player as well as a little more versatility.
If the Bucs keep five safeties they’ll likely be forced to keep one less linebacker, cornerback or defensive lineman or maybe even one less wide receiver or tight end.
That’s probably not something the team wants to do, so finding a replacement for Adjei-Barimah who can do more than just fill a role on the back of the cornerback depth chart could prove vital.