The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent defensive end Carl Nassib, who made history when he came out as gay during his most recent stint with the Las Vegas Raiders. The deal was first reported by ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.
Nassib is returning to familiar surroundings in Tampa Bay, where he spent two seasons of his career prior to signing a three-year deal with Las Vegas. Billed as a cost-cutting move, the Raiders released Nassib in March following two seasons in Las Vegas during which he totaled four sacks and 49 tackles in 27 games, including five starts.
Far from a superstar, the 29-year-old pass rusher has spent much of his career flying under the radar as an occasional starter dating back to his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns in 2016. That changed during Pride Month in 2021 when Nassib rose to fame after announcing on social media that he is gay, becoming the first active NFL player to come out. Sales of his jersey took off from that point forward, underscoring his impact on the sport and the league overall.
Nassib has followed in the footsteps of players like Michael Sam, who in 2014 became the first out gay player to be drafted when the St. Louis Rams selected him in the seventh round. Sam was released before the season started, and although he spent some time on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad, he never saw regular season action in the NFL.
Last year, Nassib also made history all over again when he stepped on the field during Week 1 as the first out gay player to play in a regular season game — and he immediately made a difference on the field. In the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, Nassib sacked quarterback Lamar Jackson and forced a fumble on the same play, allowing the Raiders to recover the football to set up the game-winning field goal.
As part of Nassib’s coming out announcement, he said he would donate $100,000 to the Trevor Project, which works to combat youth suicide within the LGBTQ community.
Nassib’s return to Tampa Bay gives him an opportunity to build on his productive tenure with the Buccaneers and continue the relationship he built with the team’s current head coach, Todd Bowles, who served as defensive coordinator during Nassib’s first go-around in Tampa Bay.
“Carl is tough in the run,” Bowles said during a press conference on August 16. “When he was here with us, he was a very good pass rusher on the outside… He has a lot of versatility, brings a lot of energy, brings a lot of toughness, and he understands the systems. He was comfortable in it. We look forward to him coming here.”
Nassib started 17 of the 29 games he played in Tampa Bay, where he recorded three forced fumbles, two pass deflections, 12.5 sacks, 63 tackles, and 25 quarterback hits between the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
The team has changed significantly since Nassib was last on the roster. Most notably, the Buccaneers won a Super Bowl since acquiring legendary quarterback Tom Brady, who is returning for his third season with the team after spending two decades with the New England Patriots.
It is not clear if Nassib will be ready for the team’s primetime season opener against the Cowboys in Dallas on September 11 at 8:20 p.m. EST. The financial terms of his new contract were not immediately disclosed.