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....
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."...
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....
The Bucs have hired former Bills center Duke Preston as the team's new director of player development.
Preston, who spent the last two years in a similar role with Notre Dame's football program, fills the spot left open when the Bucs had to fire Isaiah Harris in October after his arrest on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. Harris was accused of rear-ending a woman's car in a Taco Bell drive-thru at about 2 a.m. in north Tampa; his case has a hearing in court next month....
Good news for Bucs fans who want to make their own thorough evaluations of quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota while watching the NFL combine workouts in Indianapolis this weekend: Both top quarterbacks have reportedly decided to throw at the combine.
Winston and Mariota are widely considered the top quarterbacks in the draft and potential matches for the Bucs, who have the No. 1 overall pick. It had looked like neither might throw at the combine -- top prospects sometimes see more opportunity for the stock to fall and only throw at a pro day under a more controlled environment....
Just days after he was cut loose by the Bucs, veteran quarterback Josh McCown is moving quickly on finding a new home, meeting with the Bills on Monday in Buffalo.
McCown, 35, went 1-10 as the Bucs' starter in 2014, and Tampa Bay opted to release him rather than pay him $5.25-million for 2015. As was the case last year, he's still coveted in a weak year for free-agent quarterbacks, with only Mark Sanchez (14) and Brian Hoyer (12) throwing more touchdowns in 2014 than McCown (11) among the free agents available next month....
The writer himself concedes it's "way early" in the draft evaluation process, but Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reports that the Bucs are currently "leaning towards" Oregon's Marcus Mariota for the No. 1 pick, saying it's the "safer option" compared to FSU's Jameis Winston.
That goes against the general trend, both in what's been heard locally and what national draft pundits are "leaning towards" in their most recent mock drafts. Of course, there's still the NFL combine next week -- where neither quarterback may actually throw -- and campus workouts to shift opinions and mock opinions before the Bucs make their pick on April 30....
The Bucs have lost one of their defensive assistants to the world of college football, as Mike Phair, who was the team's assistant defensive line coach, has been hired as the co-defensive coordinator at Illinois.
Phair, who had worked for three years under Lovie Smith as the Bears' defensive line coach, had worked with Bucs defensive line coach Joe Cullen in 2014. Smith has made changes to his offensive staff, adding Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator and Mike Bajakian as quarterbacks coach, but the positional coaches on the defensive side had remained unchanged from his first season with the Bucs....
02/12/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — This was not the sendoff the Lightning had in mind.
Playing its final home game before a two-week West Coast trip, Tampa Bay gave up two goals to the Blues in the first five minutes, then three in four minutes of the second period, and it ended up getting sent off with a 6-3 loss Thursday night before an announced crowd of 18,926 at Amalie Arena.
The pivotal score came on a turnover in the Lightning zone by center Steven Stamkos after the Lightning had pulled within 2-1 in the second period. It gave Blues center David Backes an easy close-range shot that left wing Alexander Steen redirected in front of goalie Ben Bishop for a 3-1 lead, the beginning of the end....
02/12/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Thursday's matchup against St. Louis was the midpoint of a stretch of 11 straight games for the Lightning against Western Conference opponents, and the Blues' style of play in their 6-3 win gave Tampa Bay a preview of what it will face in the next two weeks during a five-game road trip.
"The people in the East don't realize how good those teams are in the Western Conference," said associate coach Rick Bowness, who spent seven years on the Canucks' staff before coming to the Lightning in 2013. "They're big. They're physical. They're much better defensively than you realize, with the L.A. Kings last year winning the (Stanley) Cup with one of the best defensive teams. ...
As debate continues as to whether FSU's Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota is best for the Bucs and the No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock chimed in on Thursday with his opinions on the two. Here's what Mayock had to say on the "NFL Total Access" show ...
"The quarterback position is one of the weakest in the 2015 Draft. There are two guys clearly at the top of the board. I have Jameis Winston No. 1. The reason is in his offense, I can see everything you want out of a quarterback. He has a big arm, he throws with anticipation, he understands timing – he gets the whole pocket awareness thing. Now, I don’t like all of the interceptions he throws; he reminds me a little bit of a Jay Cutler coming out of Vanderbilt. He has no conscience whatsoever; he’ll let it rip but he has the physical skillset to play and succeed in the NFL at the highest level. Obviously a whole host of off the field concerns have to be evaluated....
TAMPA -- Tonight's game against St. Louis is the midpoint in a stretch of 11 straight games for the Lightning against Western Conference opponents, and the Blues' style of play should prepare Tampa Bay for what they'll face in the next two weeks during a five-game road trip.
"The people in the East don't realize how good those teams are in the Western Conference," said associate coach Rick Bowness, who spent seven years on Vancouver's staff before coming to the Lightning in 2013. "They're big. They're physical. They're much better defensive than you realize, with the L.A. Kings last year winning the Cup with one of the best defensive teams. The Western teams, they just don't give you very much and they make you work for everything you get. ... They make it a very tough game for you to play."...
TAMPA -- Lightning rookie center Vladislav Namestnikov understood the need for him to spend most of the past two months with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch, but back in the NHL for tonight's game against St. Louis, he's eager to show he can make plays at this level.
"I'm excited and looking forward to this game," said Namestnikov, who had nine goals and 15 assists in 26 games with the Crunch after opening the season with 25 games with the Lightning. "Every time I come up here I'm less nervous. I know all the guys here and that helps a lot. I've played 30 games, so I know what the league's about."...
Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp's arrest Monday in Arizona has already cost him his job at NFL Network, and the former Buc's troubles continued Friday as TMZ.com reported that Anheuser-Busch has pulled a Bud Light commercial featuring Sapp.
There was no immediate confirmation from Anheuser-Busch, though TMZ cited a company spokesperson as saying that Sapp was not appearing in any ads promoting their products. Sapp was arrested early Monday morning in Phoenix and faces a charge of soliciting a prostitute, as well as two charges of assault. ...
Seattle's Russell Wilson (left) survived a four-interception game against Green Bay, but his ability to scramble is a huge advantage — 849 rushing yards, most among NFL quarterbacks, including eight runs of 20-plus yards. But Tom Brady had 33 touchdown passes to Wilson's 20 in the regular season — his experience in the postseason and Super Bowl gives him the edge in the game's biggest platform....