No matter what happens to Darrelle Revis, the Bucs will still have a Pro Bowl cornerback next season.
The Bucs signed Titans cornerback Altteraun Verner to a four-year, $26.5-million contract with $14-million guaranteed. Verner, 25, had a career-high five interceptions last season and was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team. He tied for the league lead in passes defensed with 23 last year.
Verner's signing topped off a busy day for the Bucs, who agreed to terms or signed five free agents, including Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson. Johnson and Verner were the No. 3 and No. 8 free agents available, according to NFL.com.
Johnson and Verner will earn a combined $15.375-million next season, less than the $16-million scheduled to be paid to Revis.
The Bucs have been unable to trade Revis, who is owed a $1.5 million bonus Wednesday and is expected to be released by the team.
That would enable the Bucs to send the New Yorks Jets a fourth-round pick, rather than a third-rounder, to complete a trade that also included the No. 13 overall choice in 2013.
Free agent Josh McCown, one of the top QBs available on the free-agent market, will make his first visit to the Bucs, his agent Mike McCartney said Tuesday afternoon.
McCown, 34, who played for Bucs coach Lovie Smith with the Bears in 2011-12, is coming off a surprise season in which he threw for 13 touchdowns and just one interception while filling in for Chicago starter Jay Cutler. The Texans and Jets are also reportedly in line for visits this week, though the Bucs will do their best to convince him to sign and cancel his remaining trips.
McCown would provide competition for returning starter Mike Glennon, who threw for 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a rookie after the Bucs parted ways with Josh Freeman. The team could also use its first-round draft pick, No. 7 overall, on a quarterback as well. …Full Story
Seeking an upgrade at the tight end position, the Bucs wasted no time Tuesday in signing Brandon Myers, who has caught eight touchdown passes in the last two seasons, to a two-year contract.
Myers, 28, had 47 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns with the Giants last season, and was even better in 2012, catching a career-best 79 passes for 806 yards and four scores with Oakland. The former Iowa player is 6-foot-3 and 256 pounds and will be paired with second-year pro Tim Wright as the Bucs' top tight ends.
The Bucs also signed Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, and agreed to terms with Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson on a five-year, $43.75 million contract as well.
-- The Bucs also on Tuesday re-signed cornerback Danny Gorrer, an unrestricted free agent, to a one-year contract, his agent Andrew Kessler said. Gorrer had 10 tackles last season in seven games. He had 11 with Tampa Bay in 2012.
-- Linebacker Dekoda Watson, an unrestricted free agent who met with Bucs officials on Monday, will visit with Jacksonville tonight. He's also been mentioned as a possibility for Miami, where former Bucs executive Dennis Hickey is the new general manager.
The Bucs' first splash in free agency comes from the Super Bowl champs, as Tampa Bay has signed defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who had 5.5 sacks last season for the Seattle Seahawks, his agents announced Tuesday afternoon.
McDonald, 27, is 6-foot-2 and 297 pounds, having played collegiately at Memphis and the last four seasons as a top backup in Seattle. He'll compete with second-year defensive tackle Akeem Spence for playing time alongside Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy in Tampa this fall.
McDonald had a career-best 35 tackles in 2013, with one interception. Terms of the deal weren't immediately released.Full Story
The Bucs have opened free agency with a big splash, landing the outside pass-rusher they covet by agreeing to terms with Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson on a five-year contract.
The deal can be signed and made official until 4 p.m. today, when free agency officially begins with the new league year, but ESPN, which first reported the agreement, said it will be for $43.75 million, including $24 million guaranteed.
Johnson, 27, is 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, and had 11.5 sacks for the Bengals in 2012 and was given the team's franchise tag -- his numbers dropped to 3.5 last year, but he was ranked by experts among the most coveted free agents at any position.Full Story
Darrelle Revis is expected to be released by the Bucs after their efforts to trade him remained unsuccessful on Monday.
Even though new Bucs coach Lovie Smith was intrigued by having Revis in his defense, his $16-million contract and terms of the trade make that unappealing to a team coming off a 4-12 record with many needs.
If Revis, who turns 29 in July, is still on the roster by 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Bucs owe him a $1.5-million bonus and would have to send a third-round pick in the 2014 draft to the Jets to complete the trade.
Tampa Bay also traded the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft for the Pro Bowl cornerback, who was recovering from a torn left ACL at the time of the deal.
The Bucs, who have been unable to restructure Revis’ contract, would gain an immediate $16-million on the salary cap to use on free agents while having to only send the Jets a fourth-round pick.
Revis currently earns nearly $6-million more per season than the next highest-paid cornerback in the league.
When the trade was made last April – by then Bucs general manager Mark Dominik – Revis was recovering from surgery that forced him to miss nearly all of the 2012 season with the Jets. …Full Story
The Bucs have made a progressive move in adding a new position to their front office, hiring a "director of analytics" to bring creative statistical analysis to the new staff around general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith.
Tyler Oberly comes to the Bucs from Houston, where he wrote for a site called TheSidelineView.com, applying an electric engineering background to football applications. He was a speaker last month at the MIT Sloan Sports Conference, a major gathering of sports analytics experts -- other speakers included baseball's Bill James, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and many others. Baseball and basketball have made considerable investments into adding number-crunchers in the post-"Moneyball" era, and football is starting to do the same.
Here's some of Oberly's work for TSV, and here's an abstract called "Elitics: Using Analytics to Reach NFL Ascendancy," which shows the link between six specific statistical metrics and winning in the NFL. Will it help Smith and Licht win in Tampa? That remains to be seen.Full Story
AP photo (2007)
If signed by the Bucs, Josh McCown would be given every chance to compete with Mike Glennon for the starting job.
Lovie Smith may want to be reunited with one of his former Chicago Bears quarterbacks in Tampa Bay.
Bears backup Josh McCown said Monday there are four teams that have contacted his representatives about signing with them as a free agent.
McCown would not reveal the teams, but ESPN Chicago reported that the Bucs, Jets, Texans and Bears are making a strong push to sign the 35-year-old veteran.
"I’m not going to get in to who I talked to,” McCown said during an appearance on ESPN's Mike and Mike show. “There is a window and there is legal tampering but there are some shades on that window so I don’t know out of respect to those teams if we want to get into that right now. We’ve talked to four teams. There have been good discussions. We’ll take those as they come and evaluate those situations. Full Story
"To leave Chicago, it will be a situation where I’m looking to compete to start or to start and be able to kind of grow more as a player. The only way as a player that you can do that is on the field. That will definitely be something that we are looking at. So we’ll see. We’ll see what opportunities come and where we are at tomorrow.” …
The first 24 hours of the NFL's free agency contact period have come and gone quietly, with teams and agents hesitant to say much about where the biggest interest is, knowing contracts can't be signed until Tuesday afternoon.
One connection that has been made is the Bucs' interest in defensive end Michael Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals -- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported on Saturday night that the Bucs (and former Bears coach Lovie Smith) were making a "hard push" to sign Johnson, who is an unrestricted free agent after getting the franchise tag last year from the Bengals.
The Bucs' need for an elite pass-rusher is well-documented, and Johnson is rated among the best options in this class, despite having just 3.5 sacks last season in Cincinnati. A year earlier, he had 11.5 sacks in 2012, and the 6-foot-7, 270-pounder from Georgia Tech -- originally from Selma, Ala. -- has shown himself to be a versatile end, capable of holding his own in pass coverage when needed, having started in the NFL as an outside linebacker. Pro Football Focus, which rates him as the No. 7 overall free agent in this class, credited him with 61 pass pressures last year. …Full Story
Sunday's notebook starts with the Bucs' efforts to reshuffle an offensive line that struggled last season: Rick Stroud writes about right tackle Demar Dotson, who had the best 2013 season of any Bucs offensive lineman according to new general manager Jason Licht. "He's athletic. He's tough. He's tremendously improved his technique from what I saw a couple of years ago," Licht said. "He's a smart player. He's dependable."Full Story
DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2013)
Buccaneers guard Davin Joseph grimaces as he walks off the field after a 31-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on Oct. 20.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith said he did not believe the Bucs got their money's worth from some offensive linemen last season. On Saturday he started doing something about it.
The Bucs released guard Davin Joseph, the team's first round pick in 2006 who started 99 games the past seven seasons. He was scheduled to make $6 million in 2014.
Joseph's release came after the Bucs failed in their attempt to trade their Pro Bowl guard and minutes after the the noon deadline for teams to begin contacting the representatives for free agents.
"I'm never surprised by anything that happens in this league," Joseph said. "I learned that seeing some other Tampa Bay greats get released. Their house, their rules. It's a new coaching staff and they want to bring in their guys and start something new."
Joseph, 30, was coming off a devastating knee injury last season and did not play well in 2013. So much of his game is based on power and movement and neither was the same as before the injury. …Full Story
TAMPA -- The day before NFL teams can open contact with the representatives for unrestricted free agents, the Bucs reached a deal to bring one of their own back for 2014, re-signing strongside linebacker Jonathan Casillas to a one-year contract.
Casillas, 26, joined the Bucs last year and established himself as a special-teams standout, starting four games at linebacker on the way to 24 tackles and a forced fumble. Terms were not disclosed, but he had joined the team last spring after four seasons in New Orleans with a one-year, $1.4-million deal.
"Excited to be back in Tampa for another year!" Casillas wrote on his Twitter account. "#blessed like not other. The grind continues."
Casillas is one of three Bucs who started games at strongside and would have been an unrestricted free agents -- Tampa Bay could still lose Dekoda Watson and Adam Hayward as the signing period begins on Tuesday. Casillas, who won a Super Bowl with New Orleans as a rookie, finished 2013 with nine special-teams tackles, one shy of the Bucs' team lead. …Full Story
TAMPA -- The Bucs have made it clear they expect to bring in competition for Mike Glennon for the team's starting quarterback job, but as free agency begins this weekend, there are limited options in the established passers available on the open market.
The Bucs could use their top draft pick (No. 7 overall) on one of the draft's perceived top three quarterbacks -- Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, though not necessarily in that order -- but could also bring in a veteran to challenge Glennon.
The Bucs won't know until May 8 whether one of those quarterbacks will still be there at No. 7, so here are five names of options they could sign as free agents, now or later in summer after additional roster cuts are made:
1. MICHAEL VICK, Eagles: He turns 34 in June, but fans still clamor for the dual threat, perhaps remembering his 2010 comeback season: 21 touchdown passes against just six interceptions, with another nine touchdowns on the ground.
The Bucs let Michael Bennett get away in free agency, and he'll command much more now than the Seahawks got him for on the way to the Super Bowl.
The NFL's annual free-agency shopping spree opens in earnest on Tuesday afternoon, and teams can begin the process of negotiating with players on Saturday. The Bucs have some clear needs -- finding a pass-rushing defensive end, upgrading the offensive line, adding talent at tight end and receiver -- and should be active in their first offseason under new general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith.
The Bucs have about $19 million in room under the salary cap, plus whatever is freed up by cutting veterans with expensive, non-guaranteed contracts. It's unknown whether Tampa Bay will attack free agency going for quantity -- upgrading as many positions as possible -- or trying to land a few top-dollar stars to address the biggest needs.
Here are our top three free agents at each position -- it remains to be seen how many of these will end up in Bucs uniforms this fall. The talent is uneven from one position to the next, so one of the top 10 free agents overall might not even make these positional lists ...
QUARTERBACK …Full Story
Devin Hester said Wednesday on the NFL Network that he'd like the idea of playing for Smith again in Tampa.
New Bucs coach Lovie Smith has plenty of former players available in free agency, like top returner Devin Hester, who said Wednesday on the NFL Network that he'd like the idea of playing for Smith again in Tampa.
"It's possible," Hester said on the "Total Access" show, which can be seen here. "I know Chicago wants to go a different route with me. ... Tampa, I look at Lovie as my No. 1 coach right now. He's the one that took a chance on me coming out of the draft. He has all my respect. If he's a guy that's going to shoot at me and want me to come play with him again, my arms are open."
Hester, 31, is from Riviera Beach and played at Miami in college, and he has the NFL records for most career punt returns for touchdowns (13) and total kicks returned for touchdowns (18). He didn't play receiver last year but could give the Bucs depth at that position, though he has only two touchdown catches in the last three seasons. …Full Story