Jeff Demps’ NFL career decision pending till mid-August
The two-sport athlete is currently finishing a successful track season in Amsterdam, Netherlands. If he manages to qualify for the event in Moscow, Russia he would have to miss the Buccaneers’ training camp in preparation for the August track event. The Buccaneers were the first NFL team to open training camp, with rookies reporting on Wednesday and veterans following behind next week. According to the league rules, training camp will remain open until the 1st of September. But the Buccaneers will have to make several key decisions by then, including cutting down the roster to just 53-players by the August 31st deadline.
It’s obvious that the two timetables clash, and there’s a chance Demps could miss most of the Buccaneers’ preseason as well. However, it is still unclear how the Bucs may ultimately come down on the situation.
"He's had dialogue with Tampa Bay," said Demps’ agent Daniel Rose, "and they've been supportive of him running track and doing both sports. At the end of the season in the middle of August he'll make a decision; nothing's final yet. Jeff is going to focus on track and then he'll focus on whatever's next."
The 23-year-old Demps juggled both track and football during his collegiate career at the University of Florida. He amassed 2,470 yards rushing to go with 23 touchdowns over a four-year career as a Gator, but went undrafted in the 2012 and began giving track his focus at the moment, a move that led him to the London Olympics, where he won a silver medal as part of the U.S. 4x100-meter relay team. However, Demps continued to draw interest from several NFL teams after the Olympics and signed on a three-year, $1.451 million deal with the New England Patriots last August.
Demps’ playing career with the Patriots hardly lasted a few weeks. After appearing in the teams’ final two preseason games, Demps told the Patriots he would simultaneously pursue track, and they in turn placed him on the season-ending injured reserve on August 31st. Even though Demps never took the field again in a regular season game for the Patriots, he was able to compile three receptions for 31 receiving yards, and an impressive 6.2 yards per on nine carries during the preseason. So, he still remains an intriguing prospect with NFL potential for most teams.
The Buccaneers are hoping that will be the case since they acquired him from the Patriots in a draft day trade back in April. His future with the Buccaneers is still a bit uncertain since Demps is among the three players on the Buccaneers’ roster still without a designated jersey number. But that should counter balance the open-mindedness and utter flexibility the Buccaneers have shown they await Demps’ August decision.
"[Tampa Bay] has been on board and very receptive. They are a very modern, cutting-edge franchise, and very open to these types of ideas,” said Daniel Rose. “If he can come to a team and contribute and do both, it's win-win for everyone. He's going to follow his heart. He's a competitive athlete. He wants to do both; we've said that from the very beginning.”
"It's not boxing or MMA, or anything that would injure him," added Rose. "He's 23 years old. How can you say he can't do both? You're only this young once."