Buccaneers sign veteran TE Darren Fells to practice squad

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are adding tight end insurance.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday morning that the Bucs are signing veteran tight end Darren Fells to the practice squad, with hopes of elevating him to the 53-man roster for Sunday’s game in Washington, per agent Ron Slavin. The later confirmed his addition.

Fells was granted his release from the Detroit Lions this week and cleared waivers. The 35-year-old has played in seven games this season — five starts — but caught just four of five targets for 43 yards (two of his receptions went for first downs), with a long of 24 yards.

A former basketball player, Fells bounced around practice squads in 2013 before seeing his first career action with Bruce Arians in Arizona in 2014. He spent three seasons under Arians with the Cards before stints in Detroit, Cleveland, Houston (two years), and back to Detroit again.

The signing provides depth for the Bucs at the position, particularly with the ability to elevate him from the practice squad without using a spot on the 53-man roster.

The addition could also be a sign that Rob Gronkowski might need to be shut down for another spell due to recent back spasms. Arians noted Tuesday that the Bucs “still have to worry a little bit about Gronk.”

O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate would be the top two TEs as long as Gronk misses time. But Fells can provide depth and is solid in both the run and passing game — 11 touchdown receptions in 2019-2020 with Houston.

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