Former USF cornerback Mike Jenkins, who played only one game for the Bucs last year before a season-ending pectoral injury, is staying home for 2015, signing a one-year deal Thursday to return to the Bucs this fall.
Jenkins, who turns 30 later this month, was due to become an unrestricted free agent next week, but his signing gives the Bucs three proven corners with veteran Alterraun Verner and third-year pro Johnthan Banks. Jenkins' contract for 2014 was a one-year, $1.5-million agreement, and this deal is likely also a low-risk, low-cost contract for the Bucs.
The Bucs also announced that two exclusive-rights free agents who emerged as starters last season -- strongside linebacker Danny Lansanah and safety Bradley McDougald -- had been tendered qualifying offers to bring them back for 2015 as well. With exclusive-rights free agents, an NFL team need only offer a one-year, non-guaranteed league-minimum contract to keep a player on roster. Both will be restricted free agents in 2016. …Full Story
Trent Cole, 32, is a proven pass-rusher, with 85.5 career sacks, the second-highest total in Eagles history behind only Reggie White.
The Bucs are getting an early start on free agency, with defensive end Trent Cole, cut by the Eagles this week, coming to Tampa on Thursday to visit team facilities and meet with Bucs officials.
Cole, 32, is a proven pass-rusher, with 85.5 career sacks, the second-highest total in Eagles history behind only Reggie White. His numbers have dropped in the last two years since Philadelphia switched to a 3-4 defense that made him an outside linebacker, but the Bucs would give him a chance to return to his natural position as a 4-3 defensive end.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht was in the Eagles' front office in 2005 when Cole was drafted, as well as for his first two NFL seasons, so there's a familiarity that could help the Bucs' chances. Cole was due to count $11.6-million against the Eagles' salary cap in 2015, but should be available for much less due to his age. …Full Story
Marcus Mariota, left, and Jameis Winston, right, will appear on Jon Gruden's QB Camp segment on ESPN.
Two of the Bucs’ possible targets for the No. 1 pick will be on ESPN’s Jon Gruden QB Camp later this spring.
Florida State’s Jameis Winston is scheduled for filming on April 1, a day after his pro day in Tallahassee, according to FSU. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is also scheduled to participate, along with Bryce Petty (Baylor), Brett Hundley (UCLA) and Garrett Grayson (Colorado State). This is the sixth year Gruden, the former Bucs coach, has done the ESPN series, which will begin airing on April 7.
Here’s what Gruden has to say on Mariota, according to ESPN’s release: “Mariota is special in a lot of ways. He’s a dynamic dual-threat on the field and he is humble – no-nonsense, full of character off the field – 4.52 is what he ran (at the combine). He competes like crazy. I just think he has a lot of ‘can’t miss’ qualities.”
The NFL calendar starts a new league year one week from day with the start of unrestricted free agents being able to sign with new teams, but the Bucs have another piece of housekeeping to attend to before Tuesday.
By that day, the Bucs must decide what they want to do with their two restricted free agents, running back Bobby Rainey and nickel defensive back Leonard Johnson. They essentially have two options: sign either player to a one-year tender of $1,542,000, or allow them to become unrestricted free agents, able to sign wherever they want.
Restricted free agents are NFL players with three accrued seasons -- with rookie contracts now at four years, they're usually players who join their teams as undrafted rookies (like Johnson) or after being cut by other teams (like Rainey). If a player is highly coveted, teams can sign them to higher tenders which give the team draft-pick compensation if another team signs away a player and the original team declines to match the offer, but that's unlikely to be the case with Rainey or Johnson. …Full Story
Jameis Winston is in Tampa today for a one-day, face-to-face meeting with team officials, the Bucs confirmed this morning.
Former FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, potentially the Bucs' choice as the No. 1 pick in next month's NFL draft, spent Tuesday in Tampa at One Buc Place for a one-day, face-to-face meeting with team officials.
Winston, who met with the Bucs two weeks ago in Indianapolis during the NFL combine, spoke about his interest in becoming the top pick and showing the Bucs he's the right man to lead their franchise in a video posted on the team's official site.
"I would love to stay here in this great state," said Winston, who met veteran receiver Vincent Jackson as part of his visit. "I just want to them to know that I'm human, that I'm a great person, that this smile isn't fake. I want to show them I can be the face of this franchise one day, and actions speak louder than words." …Full Story
Times files (2014)
The upcoming cuts look to start with tackle Anthony Collins, who was among last year's biggest acquisitions but disappointed as the team's left tackle, so much so that the Bucs kept him inactive for the final three weeks despite being healthy.
The official start of free agency is just eight days away, and before the Bucs get started on a new wave of additions for 2015, they'll likely free up space by cutting loose expensive players who haven't performed up to their contracts.
That list started two weeks ago with veteran quarterback Josh McCown, who was due to make $5.25-million with the Bucs and actually signed a more lucrative deal with the Browns late last week. With each new cut, the Bucs create an additional positional need to fill in the offseason, hoping to make better use of the cap freedom that comes with each release.
The upcoming cuts look to start with tackle Anthony Collins, who was among last year's biggest acquisitions but disappointed as the team's left tackle, so much so that the Bucs kept him inactive for the final three weeks despite being healthy. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Bucs were trying to shop Collins -- unlikely because of the hefty contract a new team would have to inherit -- and that they would cut him absent a trade. Contractually, he'll have another $3-million guaranteed if he's still on roster on March 12. …Full Story
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, left, shakes the hand of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota after last month's NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Before we get to the mock drafts, a few quick notes.
With more than 3,300 votes, Florida State’s Jameis Winston is narrowing the gap with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota in our updated (and unscientific) reader poll. Mariota has 44.6 percent of the vote, with Winston at 41.3. You can cast your own vote here.
I’m a numbers nerd, so I’m intrigued by two stories from NumberFire. Using its statistical projections, Mariota is the safest pick among the top five quarterbacks in this year’s draft. The riskiest? Winston. For what it’s worth, I view this more as fun conversation than definitive evidence, one way or the other.
The site also examined how college quarterbacks from spread systems fare in the NFL (see: Mariota, Marcus). You can read that here.
Without further ado, the mock drafts:
ESPN's Todd McShay: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. McShay writes: He is such a natural passer in terms of his ability to anticipate throws and deliver the ball accurately and, to me, if you limit it to an on-field evaluation, he’s second only to Andrew Luck among QB prospects of the past 10 years.
Two weeks after he was released by the Bucs, veteran quarterback Josh McCown has found a new home, agreeing to terms on a three-year contract with the Browns, his agent announced Friday.
McCown, 35, struggled in his only season with the Bucs, going 1-10 as a starter, with 14 interceptions and four lost fumbles to offset 11 passing touchdowns. With limited options for quarterbacks in free agency, the Browns outbid the Bills for the rights to McCown, who will compete with second-year passer Johnny Manziel this fall.
McCown's signing with the Browns suggests their 2014 starter, Brian Hoyer, won't be re-signing with Cleveland. The unrestricted free agent may want a fresh start after losing his starting job to Manziel late in the season despite a 7-6 record while the Browns were in playoff contention.
McCown is reunited with Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who worked with him as Raiders quarterbacks coach in 2007. McCown's brother Luke started his NFL career with Cleveland in 2004 before four seasons as a backup with the Bucs.Full Story
Given the choice between Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner chose Winston, based on promising things he's heard more than what he's been able to see from his college days.
The question to be debated for the next two months is whether FSU's Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota is better for the Bucs and the No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft, and Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner was asked for his preference while appearing on the "NFL AM" show on NFL Network on Thursday morning.
"Obviously with (Josh) McCown being released, quarterback definitely is probably somebody we need," Verner said. "A lot of talks between Winston and Mariota. Winston, I haven't seen too much of, honestly, with him being Florida State. (Verner's a UCLA grad) I've seen a lot of Mariota, since he was a Pac-12 guy. I've seen him beat the Bruins on countless occasions and I just know what type of player he is. I think you could go well with either one of those, and I'm not opposed to us probably even trading down, accumulating more picks to try to help us out more. There are a lot of ways you can go, and I think any way they decide to go is going to help the team."
Reminded that he had a very diplomatic answer without really choosing one option, he chose Winston, based on promising things he's heard more than what he's been able to see from his college days. …Full Story
The Bucs have hired former Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer to be the team's assistant defensive line coach, reuniting him with Joe Cullen, who he coached with in Jacksonville.
Spicer, 39, served in the same role with the Jaguars in 2012-13, working directly under Cullen in 2012. He spent nine seasons with the Jaguars from 2000-08, totaling 28.5 sacks. He earned a Super Bowl ring with New Orleans in 2009, though he was only on the roster as an inactive player for three playoff games. He spent part of 2014 as the defensive line coach at Jackson State but resigned in July, citing family reasons.
Spicer replaces Mike Phair, who worked with the Bucs' defensive ends last season but left this month to become co-defensive coordinator at Illinois. He's the third new coach on the Bucs' staff for 2015, joining offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine Saturday in Indianapolis.
A busy combine week in Indianapolis hasn’t done much to change mock drafts just yet.
Expect more updates in the next few days, as pundits reevaluate with the additional information of 40 times and workouts. But since it’s Mock Draft Monday (not Thursday), here’s where everything stands.
But first, a quick poll update from you, the reader. With almost 3,000 votes, 45 percent of you want the Bucs to pick Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Florida State’s Jameis Winston is closing in (40 percent), with the rest wanting someone else (1.7 percent) or a trade (13 percent). Remember, you can cast your vote here.
Without further ado, the mock drafts:
SBNation: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Writer Dan Kadar has been steady with Winston the last couple weeks. Kadar writes: Indications from those in Indianapolis signal Winston not only as the top quarterback in this year’s draft, but the favorite to be the choice at No. 1. The Buccaneers will have to decide whether or not Winston is simply immature or has serious character questions. Once they do, look for this pick to get locked down before the start of the draft. …Full Story
Hopefully, there will be more duels between Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota on NFL playing fields, more shootouts with even higher stakes. But if the call to arms that took place at the league’s scouting combine was any indication, this quarterback rivalry will be worth watching.
The frontrunners to become the Bucs' No. 1 pick in the draft went throw-to-throw during passing drills Saturday and neither disappointed.
Winston, the Florida State’s gunslinger, mixed outstanding velocity with excellent touch on most of his passes while remaining relaxed and confident throughout the workout. He was perfect on all 16 pass attempts.
Mariota, the Oregon quarterback, missed only two of 15 throws and displayed great footwork for a player who had not been under center his entire college career.
Both elite quarterbacks showed why they are clearly at the top of their draft class and did little to separate themselves from each other in a rare competition Saturday. The last prospective No. 1 overall pick to participate in passing drills at the NFL combine was Cam New Newton in 2011. …Full Story
Jameis Winston wants to be the No. 1 overall pick and the face of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He talked about winning the Super Bowl. Next year. Forget Marcus Mariota. He talked about beating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He even mentioned wanting to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Jameis Winston wants to be the No. 1 overall pick and the face of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Yes, he said, he's made mistakes. He's willing to earn the Bucs' trust. But he's even more into earning victories.
"I'm not into no competition type of thing. I'm out here to win games and be the face of someone's franchise,'' Winston said. "This is not no competition just between me and Mariota, because one thing about me, I'm plan on winning the Super Bowl next year so it's going to be Jameis versus Peyton Manning and Jameis versus Tom Brady. I want to be viewed like that. After all this combine stuff, you're not going to hear no more about Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. But I want my name to stay relevant the next 15 to 20 years of my career.''
Winston began his 10 minute media session with a statement of sorts that he spoke from the heart. …Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Jameis is undergoing medical tests to determine why he is experiencing weakness in his throwing shoulder, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
The Bucs may have a reason to pump the brakes on Jameis Winston.
The Florida State quarterback is undergoing medical tests to determine why he is experiencing weakness in his right throwing shoulder.
The problem was detected during a routine medical examination. Winston had an Electromyography (EMG) to study a weakness in his shoulder, which often can be caused by a nerve problem that can be treated through proper therapy, if necessary, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
However, a report by NFL Network said one doctor found weakness in a nerve in Winston's shoulder but he checked out fine in further testing at an Indianapolis hospital. The condition is common with baseball pitchers, the report said.
Greg Genske, Jameis Winston’s agent told the NFL Network "Jameis feels incredibly strong and there is no need for treatment of any kind.
"There's no reason to believe he will experience any future difficulties.''
One NFL team official called the discovery of shoulder weakness "overblown,' and said he expects Winston to participate in passing drills Saturday. …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
Quarterback Josh McCown is one (season) and done after 18 turnovers.
The Bucs swung and missed wildly during free agency last season. Quarterback Josh McCown is one (season) and done after 18 turnovers. Left tackle Anthony Collins played so poorly he was a healthy scratch on the inactive list the last four games. Defensive end Michael Johnson injured his ankle in the first week and had only four sacks. Evan Dietrich-Smith anchored a bad offensive line. Cornerback Alterraun Verner played his best football at the end of the season but made little impact overall.
The Bucs will continue to cut their losses with Collins and others in March. But even with so many failures, they will not abandon free agency this year.
"We're building our team through the draft," coach Lovie Smith said. "But you still have to use free agency when you feel the need. We felt the need coming in and didn't know our roster well. We know our roster a lot better now. …Full Story