Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A look at the Tampa Bay Bucs' newest additions

TAMPA — They paraded into the room wearing wide smiles, each having just been made a cornerstone of a franchise for years to come. Receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright shared their reasons for becoming Buccaneers. Then, they explained why they think the Bucs can be winners in the very near future. Here's a sampling of what we learned Wednesday from the three players the Bucs landed in their biggest leap into free agency in franchise history.

Vincent Jackson

Five years, $55.55 million

How he got here

Jackson, 29, had been at odds with his former team, the Chargers, since 2010 when he had a contract dispute and held out. When he reached unrestricted free agency last season, Jackson and the team couldn't come to terms, and he was designated the franchise player.

To retain him in 2012 and beyond, the Chargers either had to agree to a long-term deal with him or franchise him again. The problem? Franchise players must make at least 120 percent of their previous year's salary, which would have pushed Vincent's salary to $13.7 million. The Chargers said no way and let Vincent hit the open market.

He remained there for less than 12 hours, the Bucs scooping him up with a massive deal.

"It's a great feeling," Jackson said. "It has been a meticulous road I've had to travel to get here."

Why he's here

Jackson is here to, as he put it, "take the top off the defense." He's averaged 17.5 yards per catch in his career, 18.4 in 2011 (seventh-best among starting receivers). He's here to be the deep threat that's lacking on offense, a unit that ranked 25th in yards per completion (6.5) in 2011.

Jackson instantly becomes the Bucs' No. 1 receiver, providing top-end speed and the deep threat that should create mismatches for him and other receivers. Jackson's presence also does wonders for running back LeGarrette Blount and the running game, theoretically forcing defenses to back off and consistently play the pass.

What he's saying

"It's an opportunity to do something special. If we didn't believe that it could happen here with the guys that they have, we probably would've been happy to stay where we were at. . . We're all hungry to prove something. I can't wait for that first ball to be kicked off."

Carl Nicks

Five years, $47.5 million

How he got here

Nicks, a fifth-round pick of the Saints in 2008, blossomed into an All-Pro on New Orleans' formidable offensive line, helping protect quarterback Drew Brees and picking up a Super Bowl title.

With the Saints committing to a lucrative, long-term deal with guard Jahri Evans last year, it became difficult to also retain Nicks, 26, as he headed into free agency.

The Saints' last-minute offer Monday night wasn't enough.

"I've got love for those guys and that organization," he said. "But … they're not wearing the same color as I am, so I have to battle for my team and they have to battle for theirs. Expect nothing less than what I used to do for Tampa, I guess."

Why he's here

The Bucs released veteran center Jeff Faine on Wednesday afternoon, completing their revamping of the interior of their offensive line. Nicks is the centerpiece, expected to play left guard, while Jeremy Zuttah, who re-signed for four years last week, will become the starting center.

The Bucs want to be more physical, and Nicks prefers run blocking to what he jokingly described as the Saints' "pass first, pass second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth" philosophy.

"The Saints had great running backs. But here it is a little different. We have big guys, bruisers. We will pound the ball, pound the ball, then (go) over the top," said Nicks, who called himself a grinder.

"Not to sound cocky," he said, "but it's just what I do."

What he's saying

"Right when I got off the plane (on Tuesday night), I checked my phone and I saw that (the Bucs) had signed Jackson. I said, 'Okay, they're doing something here.' … To be a part of something that's eventually going to be great is a good feeling."

Eric Wright

Five years, $37.5 million

How he got here

The Bucs made an unsuccessful effort to sign Wright last year about this time, when he opted for a one-year, $2 million deal in Detroit. His gamble paid off Wednesday when he reached his rich deal with the Bucs.

Wright, 26, sees himself as an elite cornerback, and now he'll have a chance to prove it further in the NFC South against the Saints, Panthers and Falcons.

Why he's here

The Bucs had privately vowed to come out of free agency with a starting-caliber cornerback because, well, how could they afford not to?

Starting left cornerback Aqib Talib is scheduled to stand trial in a felony case in Texas in two weeks, and right cornerback Ronde Barber still might retire.

Look for Wright to take over at right cornerback, provided Talib can play (he faces serious jail time if convicted). The Bucs weren't prepared to make their backup cornerbacks starters if it necessary, so Wright addresses a big need.

What he's saying

"You get to know people (around the league) and they all say the same thing: (this is) a team you want to play for and it's an organization that you want to be a part of. Everybody has one goal and that's to win. I want to help them win and I'm here now, so that's exactly what we're going to do."

 
Comments
Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

TAMPA – Jameis Winston is heading for a big payday with the Bucs. He's played well enough to make that an easy decision.But what impact will that have on the type of players they surround him with?The Bucs are expected to exercise the fifth-yea...
Published: 02/16/18
Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

The Bucs continue to move quickly with the defensive line opening on Dirk Koetter's coaching staff, interviewing former Cardinals assistant Brentson Buckner.Buckner, 46, spent the last five years as Arizona's defensive line coach, leading the unit to...
Published: 02/16/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

It’s a Mailbag Friday as Rick Stroud answers your questions, including what will happen with the Jameis Winston investigation, who should the Bucs sign in free agency and would Warren Sapp make a good defensive line coach?Also, who will win more game...
Published: 02/16/18
Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Free agency is less than a month away, and the Bucs have several decisions to make about unrestricted free agents from their 2017 squad. One is Kevin Pamphile, who started all but one game at left guard last season but still split the job with backup...
Published: 02/16/18
Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston's pregame "Eat a 'W'" speech didn't go over too well the last time he gave it in front of the cameras and teammates.Before the Bucs-Saints game in New Orleans on Nov. 5, Winston formed a "W" with the fingers on his right hand and proce...
Published: 02/15/18
Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

No sooner had the Bucs 5-11 season ended than coach Dirk Koetter identified the two areas his team needed to improve for 2018."I think we were 3-7 in one score games. You're going to have a hard time getting where you want to go when you win 30 perce...
Published: 02/15/18
Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

NFL free agency is now just a month away, and as we begin the process of previewing the 2018 free agent class, we'll start with a less prominent part that is still relevant for the Bucs this year: restricted free agents.Unrestricted free agents have ...
Published: 02/14/18
Derrick Brooks to sign autographs at sub shop for charity

Derrick Brooks to sign autographs at sub shop for charity

A Tampa sub shop is offering fans a deal to help raise funds for former Bucs linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks' charity efforts.From Feb. 21 to Feb. 25 next week, the Jersey Mike's shop at 14839 North Dale Mabry Highway (inters...
Published: 02/13/18
The Bucs pass rush was so bad, Dirk Koetter sacked his friend

The Bucs pass rush was so bad, Dirk Koetter sacked his friend

TAMPA – It was friendly fire. The decision by Bucs coach Dirk Koetter to terminate a guy he's been buddies with for nearly 40 years was not an easy one. But defensive line coach Jay Hayes was let go last Friday, an apparent fall guy for the 5-1...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/13/18
Bucs D-line coach name to watch: former Colts DC Ted Monachino

Bucs D-line coach name to watch: former Colts DC Ted Monachino

The surprising firing of defensive line coach Jay Hayes on Friday is one that was difficult for Bucs coach Dirk Koetter.Not only had the Bucs picked up  the one-year club option on Hayes' contract, he and Koetter go back nearly 40 years when the...
Published: 02/12/18