With Russell Gage signing, Bucs WR room puts the Saints to shame
By Kristen Wong
Tom Brady’s groan-inducing return was one thing, but the New Orleans Saints now have to face arguably the league’s best wide receiver room twice a year.
While the Saints were looking for defensive free agent reinforcements — and they recently found one in Marcus Maye — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a sneaky smart signing to add even more firepower to their offense.
On Tuesday, former Falcons receiver Russell Gage agreed to terms with the Bucs on a reported three-year, $30 million dollar deal. Tampa made other significant moves in the free agency tampering period, including re-signing center Ryan Jensen and cornerback Carlton Davis, but bringing on yet another talented wideout in Gage makes the Saints’ offense look very, very timid.
Heading into the 2022 season, the Bucs can boast an elite receiving trifecta of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage, not to mention Gronk or a different seasoned tight end as another skilled pass-catcher for Tom Brady.
By contrast, the Saints have a star receiver who hasn’t played a game in two years and a few potential breakout players who nevertheless underperformed last season. This is about as unfair as it gets.
New Orleans Saints should take a page out of Bucs’ playbook for signing wide receivers
NOLA can take solace in the fact that the Bucs’ recent acquisition of Gage doesn’t hurt them the most — Tampa absolutely manhandled the Atlanta Falcons to take their last quality wide receiver.
The Falcons went from having Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage to none of them, and barring any blockbuster trades, will field possibly the worst offense in the NFC South. After signing Gage, the Bucs lead the league with the best passing attack rivaled only by the Bengals’ trio of Chase, Higgins, and Boyd.
Last season, Evans and Godwin combined for 2,138 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns, and we don’t even want to do the math on how much more that is compared to the Saints’ top two receivers.
Russell Gage recorded 770 yards and four touchdowns under Matt Ryan’s arm, and while he’ll assume a less-utilized WR3 role on the Bucs, he should still get a decent amount of looks from Brady.
Gage entered this offseason as one of the best value receivers in the league, and the Bucs were quick and wise to snatch him up as their replacement for the ever-fickle Antonio Brown. The Saints’ cap space issues prevent them from splurging on any pricey wideout in 2022, but as it stands, it’s 1-0 to the Bucs in terms of raw offensive talent.
NOLA still have bragging rights when it comes to the two teams’ head-to-head regular season record in the last few years, but they had better make some moves to boost their offense before they get left in the dust.