Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves suffered a “serious” shoulder injury on Sunday, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, and Adam Schefter and John Keim of ESPN.com add (via Twitter) that the injury may be season-ending. Hargreaves will receive a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, per Stroud.
Tampa Bay was without veteran cornerback Brent Grimes against the Saints, so Hargreaves acted as the club’s de facto No. 1 corner against Drew Brees until going down with his own injury. The Bucs were reportedly optimistic that Hargreaves’ shoulder issue wasn’t serious, but an MRI may have told the club otherwise.
With Hargreaves possibly out of the picture, the Buccaneers’ problems at cornerback will become even more pronounced. Second-round rookie Carlton Davis‘ is now Tampa’s top corner, while Ryan Smith (a 10-game starter in 2017) will likely hold down the other starting spot. But given that the rest of the depth chart — Javien Elliott, M.J. Stewart, and the recently-signed Marcus Williams — doesn’t offer much NFL experience, the Buccaneers took a look at free agent defender Bashaud Breeland earlier today.
Hargreaves, the 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft, is still only 23 years old, but his career has been a relative disappointment thus far. After starting 16 games as a rookie, Hargreaves missed time with a hamstring injury last year, and wasn’t effective when he was on the field. Pro Football Focus’ grades indicated Hargreaves played like one of the worst corners in the league, and the Florida product finished as a bottom-five cornerback in Football Outsiders’ success rate.
If Hargreaves is out for the year, the Buccaneers will be able to immediately contemplate their now difficult decision on his 2020 fifth-year option. Tampa Bay must decide by May of next year whether it”ll exercise an option that would likely pay Hargreaves around $10MM (the figure was $9.06MM for corners in 2019).
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