The Washington Football team signed former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries on Thursday afternoon, further bolstering the team's wide receiver corps.
Humphries, who enters his seventh season, has primarily played as a slot receiver and is expected to fill that role with Washington. He has caught 71% of his targets and averages 10.5 yards per reception. He is part of the latest efforts by Washington to address the receiver position, which will also feature former Carolina Panthers wideout Curtis Samuel. Here are five things to know about the team's newest offensive weapon.
1. He was an undrafted star with the Buccaneers.
The 2015 NFL Draft class was full of talent at the wide receiver position with Amari Cooper, DeVante Parker, Tyler Lockett and Stefon Diggs. Humphries, who had put together 1,097 yards and three touchdowns in four seasons at Clemson, was not among those drafted; he accepted an invitation for a tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then made the initial 53-man roster as the team's fifth wide receiver.
The move ended up being a blessing for Humphries and the Buccaneers, because for the next four seasons, there were few receivers from the 2015 class that were better than him.
Humphries gradually increased his production each year to the point where he was a crucial piece to Tampa Bay's offense. He became just the 19th player in franchise history to record 200 receptions and currently has the most career catches among Buccaneers players who were not drafted. His peak performance came in his final season with the team in 2018, as he was second on the team in targets (105) and receptions (76) behind Mike Evans.
There are only three undrafted players in Buccaneers history to record at least 50 receptions in a single season: Cameron Brate, Tim Wright and Humphries. Humphries is the only wideout to do it, and he surpassed that number three times.
Humphries was not just a star on the Buccaneers' roster; he also outperformed most of the 35 receivers who were drafted in 2015 during his four-year stay in Tampa Bay. Humphries had 219 career receptions by the end of the 2018 season, which placed him fourth among wideouts who entered the league in 2015. The only receivers ahead of him at that time were Jamison Crowder, Cooper and Diggs.
Head coach Ron Rivera likes to have players who are looking to prove themselves; it is clear he has found another one in Humphries.
2. He already has a strong rapport with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
There aren't many players on Washington's roster who have experience with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Humphries is now the one receiver among that group who is the most familiar with Fitzpatrick, and as it turns out, his two best seasons came when Fitzpatrick was splitting time with Jameis Winston under center.
"First, as a quarterback, you trust him," Fitzpatrick said of Humphries in 2018. "You know he's going to be in the right spot, you know he's going to do the right thing, you know that you're going to be on the same page."
The connection Fitzpatrick had with Humphries was apparent in that his best single-season catch rates -- 73.5% in 2017 and 72.4% in 2018 -- came during Fitzpatrick's two seasons with the Buccaneers. Aside from being a popular waiver pickup in fantasy football, he was labeled as a “secret superstar” by Pro Football Focus, particularly after his Week 9 performance against the Carolina Panthers in 2018, during which he caught all eight of his targets thrown by Fitzpatrick for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
"He works his tail off in practice every single day and he's got a lot of quickness to him -- that good subtle burst that he has," Fitzpatrick said. "He's been a consistent playmaker for us all year long and will just look to continue and continue to get better."
Humphries caught 76% of his passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns in games where Fitzpatrick started for the Buccaneers. That connection will be valuable as Fitzpatrick becomes acclimated with offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s system.
3. He knows how to convert third downs.
If there is one thing Humphries is known for, it's moving the chains; more than half (59%) of his receptions resulted in first downs. But when it comes to third-down conversions, there are not many receivers who are more reliable than him.
"He's a third-down machine," Winston said in 2016. "He's had a great camp and last year, he was one of my best targets."
One of the best examples of Humphries' ability to keep offenses on the field came in 2018, when he was targeted 28 times on third down. Humphries caught 19 of those passes for 14 first downs, meaning the Buccaneers had a 50% conversion rate when targeting him.
Humphries has the second-lowest average depth of target (7.1 yards) since 2017, but he has made up for that once he gets the ball in his hands. He has 813 yards after the catch, making up about 40% of his 2,049 receiving yards in that time span.
Washington's offense performed modestly on third downs in 2020 with a conversion rate of 39.7%. With Humphries now joining the team's receivers, there is a chance that number could increase.
4. He had to convince people that he played in the NFL.
NFL players come in all sizes, but there are not many pass-catchers who stand 5-foot-11 and weigh 195 pounds. So, it is understandable that people did not believe Humphries when he said he was a receiver for the Tennessee Titans.
"I'll just be sitting on a plane and someone will ask what I do," Humphries said after signing a three-year deal with Tennessee. "They don't believe me until they get off and Google me or whatever.
"A lot of the time, 90%, it's just disbelief. They're like, 'Are you serious?' I'm like, 'I'm being serious, yeah.'"
Humphries got used to persuading and proving to people that he played in the NFL, and that's exactly what he did in Tennessee. When healthy, Humphries was a reliable target for Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill in two seasons with 60 catches for 602 yards. In his first year with the team, he set a career-high for catch rate (78.7%) and had two touchdowns, one of which proved to be the game-winner against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now that he is with his third team, Humphries will have to prove himself to another fan base. But to him, that is less about what he does on the field and more about his preparation.
"It's not really about showing out the first day, one-handed catches and all that stuff," he said. "It's just about proving that I'm a hard-worker. Really learning the playbooks and the formations so everything goes smoothly for me."
5. He adds more flexibility to Washington's receiver corps.
Humphries has been one of the better slot receivers since joining the league in 2015. He ranks 11th and 18th in catches and yards, respectively, among such wideouts in that span. During his final season with the Buccaneers, he had 666 yards out of the slot, which was fourth in 2018 behind Tyreek Hill (857), JuJu Smith-Schuster (814), Tyler Boyd (733) and Adam Thielen (712), according to PFF. He also only had one drop that season, which was tied for third in the league.
With Humphries manning the slot position, it will allow Washington's other receivers, particularly Samuel, to operate in other parts of the offense. Samuel was primarily used as a slot receiver (444 snaps) with the Carolina Panthers in 2020, per RotoWire. But now that Humphries will primarily be in that role, Samuel can be used as more of an outside receiver, where he only had 59 snaps in such a role last season. He could also spend more time in the backfield, where he was used on 76 snaps.
It will also allow Terry McLaurin to spend more time as an outside receiver. McLaurin spent about a third of his time in the slot and had 39 receptions for 527 yards and three touchdowns at that position in 2020. He could still receive some snaps there, but having a slot specialist like Humphries and a versatile piece like Samuel means McLaurin could use his 4.3 speed outside the numbers, where he caught 47 passes for 570 yards and a touchdown last year.
One way or the other, the addition of Humphries is slated to make Washington's offense and its receivers a more potent unit.