Two-sport athlete Jeff Demps will make a decision on his NFL future by mid August, his agent, Daniel Rose of Gridiron Sports, tells SB Nation.
The former University of Florida tailback and return man is currently wrapping up the professional track season in Amsterdam, Netherlands. If he qualifies for an early August event in Moscow, Russia, he would miss the start of training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, assuming he chooses to attend at all. The Bucs were the first NFL team to open camp, rookies reporting on Wednesday, July 17, with veterans to follow one week later on July 24.
"He's had dialogue with Tampa Bay," said 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."
NFL training camps officially run through Sept. 1, according to the collective bargaining agreement, following the final preseason games on Aug. 29, and the 53-man roster cut deadline on Aug. 31. Given the timetable, there's a chance Demps, should he opt to play, could miss most of the preseason.
Despite a successful four-year career as a Gator, amassing 2,470 yards rushing to go with 23 touchdowns, Demps went undrafted in 2012 after choosing to continue his track career. That decision took him all the way to the Olympics in London, where he won a silver medal as part of the U.S. 4x100-meter relay team. The New England Patriots subsequently won the Demps sweepstakes among a handful of suitors, signing him to a reported three-year, $1.451 million deal last August that included an $11,000 signing bonus and $211,000 guaranteed.
Just two weeks later, after appearing in New England's final two preseason games and informing the team he would simultaneously pursue track, the Pats placed the 5'7, 175-pound speedster on season-ending injured reserve. He had compiled an impressive 6.2 yards per attempt on nine carries, to go along with three receptions for 31 yards and eight returns for 128 yards, but has still yet to appear in a regular-season game. He remains an intriguing prospect, however.
Following a 2013 draft-day trade with the Bucs that shuttled running back LeGarrette Blount off to New England, Tampa Bay -- one of the other teams originally in the running for Demps' services, and the one nearest his home -- continues to wait on his potential. He is currently listed on the Buccaneers' roster and is one of three players without a designated number. With New England, he wore No. 42. At Florida, he wore both Nos. 28 and 2.
"[Tampa Bay] has been on board and very receptive," said Rose. "They are a very modern, cutting-edge franchise, and very open to these types of ideas. 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," he continued. "He's 23 years old. How can you say he can't do both? You're only this young once."