The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are reinforcing their depleted receiving corps with free agent Cole Beasley, who has remained unsigned since quarrelling with the NFL over its vaccine protocols for much of last season.
Beasley’s agent has confirmed to DailyMail.com that the Bucs will be adding Beasley to their practice squad, but plan to move him to the 53-man roster in the coming days. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo was the first to report Beasley’s acquisition.
The move certainly addresses a need for Tampa Bay and quarterback Tom Brady.
The Bucs (2-0) recently lost Pro Bowl wideout Mike Evans to a one-game suspension for his on-field skirmish with New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore on Sunday.
Tampa Bay is already without free-agent acquisition Julio Jones, who missed Sunday’s win over the Saints with a knee problem. Furthermore, Chris Godwin is dealing with hamstring issues after his 2021 season was cut short by a torn ACL.
Beasley, who has excelled out of the slot for both the Dallas Cowboys and Bills over his 10-year career, is now 33 and coming off a solid season in Buffalo, where he tied his career high with 82 receptions.
The 2021 season was also notable for Beasley because he was fined over $100,000 for violations of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. One of the fines, for $14,600, was assessed in August of last year, when NFL officials were at the Bills’ training facility and spotted the unvaccinated Beasley not wearing a mask.
Beasley has been outspoken in his views on the COVID-19 vaccination mandates. He tested positive for the virus in December and was forced to be away from the Bills for 10 days, per league protocols.
In September of 2021, Beasley and Bills teammate Reid Ferguson both offered to buy tickets for fans to away games since Buffalo was requiring proof of the injection for all spectators at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.
The players told unvaccinated fans via social media that if they bought tickets to a road game, the players would pick up the tab.
While he has personally refused to get vaccinated, Beasley said in August of 2021 that he’s not for or against the injection, but rather he considers himself ‘pro choice’ and is opposed to any mandates.
Since then, New York State and the NFL have suspended most of the protocols to which Beasley objected.
The NFL suspended all aspects of its COVID-19 protocols in March as infection rates began to dwindle.
In an agreement with the players’ association, the league sent a memo to the 32 teams in which it mentioned ‘encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law and the counsel of our respective experts’ as reasons for the move.
Should the NFL find reasons to reimpose any aspects of the protocols, it will do so in conjunction with the NFL Players Association.
Teams are required to remain in compliance with state and local laws and may continue ‘reasonable measures to protect their staff and players,’ said the memo.