By Wes Kerr
The pride of Gardens Corner is officially a member of the defending Super Bowl champions.
After a spectacular 2021 preseason, former Whale Branch, The Citadel, and University of Miami standout defensive back Dee Delaney earned his spot Tuesday on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 53-man roster.
In a heated battle for the final cornerback spot on the team, Delaney proved his case all night long Saturday in the final tune-up game in Houston, picking off two passes including an interception late in the fourth quarter to preserve the win. The 26-year-old veteran earned the trust of Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians from the start of the preseason, and emerged as a reliable corner with the experience, motor, and drive that the Bucs were looking for.
After impressing the coaching staff in the August 14 opener, Delaney earned the highest snap count (79%) of any defensive player a week later. He made the most of the opportunity, ranking up five tackles against Tennessee before his brilliant performance on Saturday sealed his spot on the team.
It will be his first appearance on an NFL roster since the 2019 season. An undrafted free agent after his college career finished at Miami, Delaney signed with the Jaguars in 2018 and made his regular season debut in London in a matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. He then bounced around with three other teams over the next two years, joining the Dolphins, Jets, and Washington before taking a break from football in 2020. But now, Delaney is back in the league eyeing a real shot at a Super Bowl ring.
A star under Jerry Hatcher at Whale Branch, Delaney thrived on both sides of the ball, scoring 14 touchdowns as a wide receiver in his senior season while picking off three passes en route to region player of the year honors. The four-sport Warrior phenom began his college career at The Citadel, snagging a Southern Conference-leading six interceptions during his 2016 All-American junior campaign. He then transferred to the University of Miami for his senior year, helping ignite a ferocious Hurricane defense for the eventual ACC Coastal Division champions.
Delaney joins fellow Lowco superstar Poona Ford on the sport’s biggest stage this fall. Ford just signed a lucrative two-year, $12 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks at defensive tackle.
Delaney’s spot on the Buccaneer roster looks to be set in stone, but it’s worth noting that Tampa Bay will need to make additional roster moves in order to reactivate four players currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list.