Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Freeman says Tampa Bay Buccaneers were warned about New Orleans Saints' 'cheap shots'

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman wasn't surprised to learn there might have been a price on his head — and his knees, for that matter — whenever he played the New Orleans Saints.

Freeman said players were warned by Bucs coaches in advance about potential "cheap shots'' from the Saints defense the past three seasons.

Freeman received an illegal hit out of bounds by Saints cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who dove at his knees at Raymond James Stadium in 2010. The Saints received two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the play and Jenkins was fined $10,000.

That was why Freeman wasn't shocked to learn about the NFL's investigation into the Saints' bounty system administered by former defensive coordinator Greg Williams. Players were paid for hits that forced opponents off the field or out of the game, along with fumble recoveries and interceptions.

"We just knew every time we played the Saints, they were going to take some cheap shots," Freeman said Monday. "I mean, it was always something we acknowledged. We knew Gregg Williams' defenses were physical and they were going to get after you. Knowing what we know now, it's not surprising that was the system that was set up for them.''

The Bucs lost that game 31-6 but went on to finish 10-6, winning 23-13 win at New Orleans in the regular-season finale.

The NFL is considering disciplinary measures that could include fines, the forfeiture of draft picks and/or suspensions of Williams, coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and various players.

Williams, recently named defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, was called to New York on Monday to meet with NFL security officials Jeff Miller and Joe Hummel for more discussion about league bounty rules.

Freeman, who says he has always had a lot of respect for Williams and the Saints defense, said Bucs coaches routinely warned offensive players to beware of New Orleans defenders making illegal hits, particularly near the sideline.

"We were told, 'just kind of like watch your knees on sideline plays, everybody slowing up and one guy trying to take a shot when someone is unprepared,' " Freeman said. "It was unnecessary stuff."

The Bucs are 3-3 against the Saints under Freeman, who became the starter in mid 2009. At 6 feet 6, 248 pounds, he is better equipped than some quarterbacks to absorb punishment and routinely extends plays with his feet.

Freeman says that while every team tries to impose physical punishment, it's generally done within the rules. He said sometimes the Saints defense under Williams crossed the line.

"Everybody plays hard, but nobody goes out and tries to hurt each other," Freeman said. "You go out to hit people hard, you know, straight up. But we didn't see a whole lot of that other stuff except when we were playing the Saints."

Freeman said having played in the NFC South for three seasons, he has become familiar with many Saints players and has no problem with them.

"I like a lot of those guys on the team," Freeman said. "Whether it was an extra incentive or whatever it is, I really don't know what was going on in their locker room. It was just overall feeling."

Freeman said he was unaware until Sunday of the NFL's investigation into the Saints' bounty system, announced Friday.

"It's interesting," Freeman said. "Someone sent me a link from a story. I read it and said, 'this is interesting.' "

Zuttah signs; Barth gets franchise tag

The Bucs prevented two of their top players from becoming unrestricted free agents Monday.

They started by signing guard/center Jeremy Zuttah to a four-year contract worth approximately $4 million per year. The Bucs then used their franchise player tag on Connor Barth, the fifth kicker in the league to be given that designation.

In four seasons, Zuttah's versatility has been a huge asset. He has played 58 regular-season games with 44 starts at both guard and center. Zuttah started 30 games at left guard, five at right guard and nine at center.

Meanwhile, Barth's agent, Rob Roche, said he is hopeful a long-term deal will be negotiated.

Barth set a franchise record in 2011 by making 92.9 percent on field goals (26-of-28), second in the NFL. It's believed Barth seeks a contract similar to the five-year, $15.759 million deal signed by Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski last season.

The franchise tag number for kickers is about $2.65 million on a one-year contract that is guaranteed. Barth earned $1.9 million in 2011.

Comments
Rick and Tom podcast: As Jameis Winston faces another accusation, Bucs win with Ryan Fitzpatrick

Rick and Tom podcast: As Jameis Winston faces another accusation, Bucs win with Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Bucs win again behind backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and a defense that creates five turnovers against the Dolphins. In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the game, including the calm that Fitzpatrick has brought and ...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

MIAMI GARDENS — That was one ugly football game.The Bucs had a bad game. The Dolphins had a really bad game. And who had the worst game of all? The officials.In fact, the best part of Sunday’s game was before the game even started, thanks to a stirri...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

MIAMI GARDENS — A dark cloud is hanging over this football team.It’s a heaviness. A dread. A dread for what might have happened in the past and what might happen in the future.And that makes it hard for fans to truly enjoy what happened Sunday.The Bu...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

MIAMI GARDENS — For chaos, there was Jameis Winston missing his second game with a shoulder injury and an NFL investigation swirling around him.For calamity, there was the Bucs forcing four of their five turnovers in the first half and building a two...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins:  How rookies like O.J. Howard carried the day

Bucs-Dolphins: How rookies like O.J. Howard carried the day

MIAMI GARDENS — From start to finish, the Bucs’ wobbly 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday was made possible by game-changing plays made by rookies.The Bucs’ top three picks in this year’s draft — tight end O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans and rece...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NFL Week 11: What we learned

NFL Week 11: What we learned

Is Jerry Jones the next Al Davis? Is he really going to let his anger for commissioner Roger Goodell ruin his relationship with the other owners? Should we have seen this coming? I think the answers are: Yes, probably and yes. Jones is the modern-day...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Figures from FSU case enter latest allegation against Jameis Winston

Figures from FSU case enter latest allegation against Jameis Winston

MIAMI GARDENS — The case of Jameis Winston and a female Uber driver in Arizona took more twists Sunday, with Winston getting some level of corroboration, and his unnamed accuser retaining a familiar, high-profile attorney.Eagles cornerback Ronald Dar...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins journal: Patrick Murray on winning kick: ‘I knew I was going to make it’

Bucs-Dolphins journal: Patrick Murray on winning kick: ‘I knew I was going to make it’

MIAMI GARDENS — Patrick Murray has been so consistent since taking over as the Bucs’ kicker that he had no doubt when called upon to make a go-ahead field goal with four seconds left in Sunday’s win.Ryan Fitzpatrick completed three passes for 55 yard...
Published: 11/19/17
Bucs-Dolphins: Social media reactions to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins: Social media reactions to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

The Bucs won their second straight and snapped a six-game road losing streak Sunday. And they did it after blowing a 13-point lead.Here’s a sampling of reactions on social media to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win over the Dolphins in Miami Gardens:...
Published: 11/19/17
Buccaneers-Dolphins: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win

Buccaneers-Dolphins: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs’ 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday:5Bucs takeaways, four of which occurred in the first half. Tampa Bay last recorded four takeaways in the first half against Chicago in Week 2.6Turnovers quarterback Jay C...
Published: 11/19/17