Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rumors & News

Buccaneers’ Kenny Bell Out For Season

Buccaneers rookie wide receiver Kenny Bell will miss the 2015 season because of a hamstring injury, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link).

Bell, a fifth-round pick from Nebraska, suffered the injury last month. At the time, Cummings wrote that Bell was impressive for the Bucs in training camp, though he was held without a catch during the preseason. Head coach Lovie Smith was unsure then if Bell had done enough to earn a roster spot.

“Have we seen enough? No, it’s not like he’s done enough right now where we can say we definitely know which direction to go,” Smith said.

Bell had a prolific college career, catching 181 passes and 21 touchdowns in four years with the Cornhuskers.

Buccaneers To Release Connor Barth

Connor Barth‘s latest stint with the Buccaneers only lasted a little over a week, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the veteran kicker is being released by the club.

Barth landed with the Buccaneers quickly last Wednesday after being released by the Broncos, and figures to be atop the list of targets for the next NFL team in need of kicking help. The 29-year-old signed with Denver last November to replace Brandon McManus, who was struggling with his accuracy. However, McManus beat Barth out for the kicking job in Denver this season, even though Barth finished the 2014 campaign by nailing 15 of 16 field goals for Denver.

According to Rapoport, Barth’s release signals that Kyle Brindza will open the regular season as the Bucs’ kicker. However, Patrick Murray remains on the team’s roster as well, so it’s not clear if that’s set in stone quite yet. We should get some more clarity when Tampa Bay officially announces its cuts, but Brindza looks like the choice, given Murray’s preseason struggles.

Barth is the second notable Buccaneer whose release has been confirmed today — the club is also parting with former second-round pick Da’Quan Bowers.

Buccaneers To Cut Da’Quan Bowers

The Buccaneers re-signed defensive lineman Da’Quan Bowers in July after letting him reach the free agent market earlier in the offseason, but it doesn’t appear he’ll have a spot on the team’s regular season roster. According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link), the Bucs will cut Bowers today.

The 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bowers played 50 games for the Buccaneers from 2011 to 2014, compiling just 66 total tackles and seven total sacks. The 25-year-old, a Clemson product, was plagued by injuries and never developed into the sort of productive defensive player the Bucs were hoping for, starting just 10 of those 50 games with the club.

As Garafolo notes, Bowers had a sack and five tackles in Tampa Bay’s final preseason game, but it wasn’t enough to save his job. The Bucs won’t be on the hook for any dead money for Bowers, since he was signed to a minimum salary contract with no guarantees.

Buccaneers Sign Tim Jennings

The Buccaneers announced (via Twitter) that they have signed cornerback Tim Jennings. Jennings met with Tampa Bay on Tuesday and two days later, he has a deal with the team.

Jennings signing with the Bucs isn’t a real surprise, considering his connection to Lovie Smith. Smith, the current head coach in Tampa Bay, was coaching in Chicago when the team brought Jennings aboard in 2010, and oversaw the cornerback’s first Pro Bowl season in 2012. The Bears released Jennings on Sunday.

A nine-year vet, Jennings signed with the Bears back in ’10 after spending the first four years of his career with the Colts. According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), Jennings posted a successful 2014 season, grading as the league’s No. 28 corner while playing more than 1,000 snaps. During his time in Chicago, Jennings, a Georgia alum, started all but six games, posting 16 interceptions during that span.

Jennings now joins a group of cornerbacks that includes Alterraun Verner, Johnthan Banks, Mike Jenkins, and Sterling Moore.

South Notes: K. Lewis, Jennings, J. Jones, Jags

The Saints made the cornerback position a priority this offseason when they added former Patriot Brandon Browner and CFLer Delvin Breaux as free agents, but the team’s top corner won’t be available to start the regular season. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Keenan Lewis underwent hip surgery yesterday and will miss about four to six weeks of action.

Landing on the IR with the designation to return doesn’t appear likely for Lewis, since that would sideline him for the entire first half, but the Saints will have to make do without him for at least the next month.

Let’s check in on a few other items from out of the league’s two South divisions….

  • Speaking to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Facebook link), free agent cornerback Tim Jennings said a visit with to Tampa Bay “went well,” but he hasn’t made a decision yet on whether he’ll sign with the Buccaneers. “I do want to take this time to see what other opportunities may materialize, if possible,” Jennings said. “Some teams may have some things come up with more roster cuts. Obviously, I also have a strong connection to Tampa too. So we will see.”
  • Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com has the full year-by-year breakdown for Julio Jones‘ extension with the Falcons, which includes a $12MM signing bonus and $35.5MM in fully guaranteed money.
  • Echoing many of the same points made by Jason La Canfora in a recent CBSSports.com column, Bob Kravitz of WTHR Sports writes that Chuck Pagano‘s future as the Colts head coach is uncertain, given his expiring contract and possible tension with GM Ryan Grigson.
  • The Jaguars would “most likely not” let Justin Blackmon out of his NFL contract to pursue a contract in the CFL, writes Alex Marvez of FOX Sports. Of course, Blackmon would also have to be reinstated by the NFL before he could even consider playing in Canada, and that doesn’t appear imminent either.
  • A housekeeping detail on the Steelers‘ acquisition of Josh Scobee, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter links): The Jaguars converted $925K of Scobee’s base salary into a signing bonus before completing the deal, meaning they pay that amount, leaving the Steelers with just a $2.5MM tab for 2015.

Extra Points: Bucs, F. Jackson, Brady, Ridley

The Buccaneers had a slew of problems on their offensive line last year, and even after addressing the position multiple times in the draft, the club isn’t totally satisfied with its line play. According to Jenna Laine of SportsTalkFlorida.com (via Twitter), the Bucs are looking for interior offensive line help, and are shopping for possible trades. The club could also look to claim a player off waivers or sign a free agent, as more cuts are made this week.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NFL, as teams reduce their rosters to 75 players:

  • Fred Jackson appears likely to land with the Seahawks, but the Ravens have also expressed interest in the veteran running back, says Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News (via Twitter). According to Carucci, there’s been no indication that the Patriots, Cowboys, or Browns have shown interest in Jackson.
  • When Judge Richard Berman announces his decision on Tom Brady‘s case this week, he’ll either uphold or vacate the four-game suspension for the Patriots quarterback. However, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains, Berman has a handful of different options available to him when he makes that ruling.
  • All signs are pointing to Jets running back Stevan Ridley, who is returning from an ACL injury, starting the regular season on the club’s reserve/PUP list, tweets Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
  • David Newton of ESPN.com conducted a Q&A with Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, who addressed the play of new left tackle Michael Oher, the team’s acquisition of wideout Kevin Norwood, and the areas of the roster that may still need an upgrade.
  • Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell also discussed a Monday trade, indicating that the decision to move kicker Josh Scobee was the “toughest decision we’ve had to make.” John Oehser of Jaguars.com has the details.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap examines the cap ramifications of some of the more notable veteran cuts made over thee weekend and on Monday.

Bucs Cut Michael Koenen, Get Down To 75

10:22am: The Bucs have confirmed Koenen’s release and announced four more roster moves, to get down to the required 75 players. Here are Tampa Bay’s other Tuesday transactions, per a team release:

Waived/injured:

  • G Josh Allen
  • WR Robert Herron
  • CB Leonard Johnson

Placed on reserve/PUP list:

  • DT Akeem Spence

8:09am: The Buccaneers have made a change on their special teams unit, according to Rick Stroud and Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, who report (via Twitter) that the club has released veteran punter Michael Koenen. As a vested veteran, Koenen will avoid waivers and will become a free agent immediately.

The Bucs brought in multiple punters this offseason to challenge Koenen, and while Spencer Lanning didn’t make the cut, it appears the team likes what it has seen from newcomer Jacob Schum. Unless another move is forthcoming, Schum looks likely to open to the regular season as Tampa Bay’s punter.

Koenen, 33, had been set to earn a $3.25MM base salary in 2014 after ranking as just the 23rd-best and 24th-best punter in the NFL over the last two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required). Because he had no prorated signing bonus money left on his deal, Koenen won’t leave any dead money on the Bucs’ books, so the team clears his entire $3.25MM cap charge for this year and for 2016.

Tim Jennings Meeting With Buccaneers

Veteran cornerback Tim Jennings didn’t waste any time setting up his first free agent visit. According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter), Jennings is in Tampa today to meet with the Buccaneers, just two days after being released by the Bears.

The fact that Jennings is receiving some interest from the Bucs isn’t a real surprise, considering his connection to Lovie Smith. Smith, the current head coach in Tampa Bay, was coaching in Chicago when the team brought Jennings aboard in 2010, and oversaw the cornerback’s first Pro Bowl season in 2012.

A nine-year vet, Jennings signed with the Bears back in ’10 after spending the first four years of his career with the Colts. According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), Jennings posted a successful 2014 season, grading as the league’s No. 28 corner while playing more than 1,000 snaps. During his time in Chicago, Jennings, a Georgia alum, started all but six games, posting 16 interceptions during that span.

If Jennings were to sign with the Buccaneers, he’d be joining a group of cornerbacks that includes Alterraun Verner, Johnthan Banks, Mike Jenkins, and Sterling Moore.

Lions To Acquire Tim Wright, Cut Ryan Broyles

9:06am: The Lions are sending kicker Kyle Brindza to Tampa Bay in the deal for Wright, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com.

8:18am: For the second consecutive August, the Buccaneers have decided to trade tight end Tim Wright, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who tweets that Tampa Bay is sending Wright to the Lions. A year ago, the Bucs sent Wright to New England in a swap for Logan Mankins.

Playing behind Rob Gronkowski on the Patriots’ depth chart in 2014, Wright grabbed 26 balls for 259 yards and six touchdowns, receiving far fewer targets than he did in his 2013 rookie campaign with Tampa Bay. In ’13, Wright recorded 54 receptions on 76 targets.

New England moved on from Wright in June, and when the young tight end hit waivers, 10 teams – including the Lions – placed waiver claims on him, with the Bucs getting him back. In Detroit, Wright will join a group of tight ends that includes Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron, and Joseph Fauria.

Meanwhile, another Lions pass-catcher, former second-round pick Ryan Broyles, will be waived after requesting his release from the team, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. According to Birkett, Broyles’ decision to ask to be let go was solidified after he played just 16 snaps during Detroit’s Friday win over Jacksonville, which was the latest sign that he likely wouldn’t make the team’s 53-man roster.

Since joining the Lions in 2012, Broyles has totaled just 420 yards and two touchdowns on 32 catches, with the majority of those catches and yards coming in his rookie year. He’ll have to pass through waivers unclaimed to become an unrestricted free agent.

NFC South Notes: Jones, Brown, Glennon, Griffin

The Falcons went all in on Julio Jones during the 2011 draft, trading five picks to move way up in the first round to take the star receiver out of Alabama. Despite a trip to the NFC Championship game in 2013, the last two seasons have gone less than perfectly for the Falcons. Yet the team is going all in on Jones again, giving him a five-year extension with $47.5MM in guaranteed money, writes Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His injury history derailed the top-heavy roster before, and with his new deal he needs to stay on the field to give the offense a chance to score.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC South:

  • Despite six dropped passes in two preseason games, Panthers wide receiver Corey Brown is still a lock to make the final roster, writes David Newton of ESPN. He notes that Brown has the confidence of head coach Ron Rivera.
  • For teams who may need to scramble for a starting quarterback due to an injury in preseason or early in the regular season, the first call they should make should be to the Buccaneers concerning Mike Glennon, writes Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. A source ranked Glennon as the best trade target, ahead of other notable backups Zach Mettenberger, Kirk Cousins, and Ryan Mallett. For the record, Cousins might not be a backup any longer.
  • The Saints are set at starting quarterback with Drew Brees, but the depth chart after him is in flux. Luke McCown took over after Brees during today’s preseason game, followed by rookie Garrett Grayson, writes Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com (via Twitter). That may leave Ryan Griffin on the outside looking in, in terms of a roster spot.