Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rumors & News

Sunday Roundup: Marrone, Martin, Keenum

As the afternoon games get underway, let’s take a look at some news and notes from around the league:

  • We heard earlier today that Jaguars OL coach Doug Marrone will be viewed as a top head coaching candidate this offseason, and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explains why. As Florio writes, Marrone, who became available after opting to terminate his relationship with Buffalo last year, came on the market “a little too unexpectedly” for teams to scrap their existing plans at the time. Now, however, with a high number of potential head coaching vacancies and a relatively small number of truly qualified candidates, Marrone will be an attractive option, especially given that the Bills are doing less (record-wise) with more talent under Rex Ryan than they did under Marrone.
  • Former NFL agent Joel Corry tweets that there is no need to speculate as to whether the Buccaneers will put the franchise tag on Doug Martin, as the nearly $12MM cap number for a franchised running back is too steep in today’s NFL. The last time the tag was used on an RB was in 2012, when the Ravens tagged Ray Rice and the Bears tagged Matt Forte. The cap number for a franchised RB at the time was $7.7MM.
  • ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets that, even though the NFL has apparently closed the book on whether the Rams should be penalized for last week’s concussion controversy surrounding Case Keenum, the NFL Players Association is continuing its own investigation.
  • In his latest mailbag, Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com looks at what the Browns might expect to receive if they were to trade Johnny Manziel at this point, and he notes that the best the Browns could hope for is a future pick conditioned on Manziel’s active status and number of starts.
  • After the Lions promoted Isa Abdul-Quddus to a starting role and moved James Ihedigbo to the bench, they began to see a noticeable improvement from the back end of their defense, as Kyle Meinke of MLive.com observes. Abdul-Quddus is not as physical as Ihedigbo, but he covers much more ground and has established himself as a quality option in the team’s secondary, particularly in light of the recent injury to Glover Quin. Adbul-Quddus, who signed a one-year deal with Detroit last year, may be putting himself in line for a multi-year pact this offseason.
  • David Moore of The Dallas Morning News examines the futures for Cowboys defensive backs Byron Jones and Morris Claiborne, predicting that Dallas plans to move Jones to safety moving forward, thereby increasing the likelihood that the team retains Claiborne.
  • In a series of three articles, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com reexamines the Eagles‘ offseason decisions, offers his thoughts on the Jets‘ rebuilding process, and previews the 2016 class of free agent tight ends.

NFC Notes: Berger, Bucs, Alexander, Eagles

With starting center John Sullivan sidelined all year for the Vikings, veteran offensive lineman Joe Berger – rated by Pro Football Focus as one of the league’s top centers – has been invaluable for the team, writes Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune. Minnesota prioritized re-signing Berger in the offseason, and he was happy to return to the Vikings, even in a backup role.

Having played every offensive snap for the club this season, Berger is on track to earn an extra $400K in incentives if he continues that pace, and barring an injury, there’s no reason to believe he won’t. Sullivan suffered a setback and underwent another surgical procedure in October, and isn’t expected to return this season, so the center job looks like Berger’s for at least the rest of the year.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Although he’s facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander looks likely to play in Sunday’s game against the Colts. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes that the NFL officially notified the team of Alexander’s suspension on Wednesday, giving him five days to appeal the ban, which he’s expected to do. By the time the appeal process plays out, Alexander may end up serving the penalty over the final four games of the regular season, assuming the suspension is upheld.
  • Buccaneers running back Doug Martin made comments this week suggesting he doesn’t like the idea that he’s having an excellent season because he’s in a contract year. However, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, teams may be wary of a repeat of DeMarco Murray‘s situation, so if Tampa Bay doesn’t franchise Martin or make a competitive offer, “the warning to everyone else will be implied.” For what it’s worth, the Bucs have indicated they want to retain the running back beyond the 2015 season.
  • If the Eagles decide to replace head coach Chip Kelly before the 2016 season, Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News would be surprised if a new coach could come in and immediately transform the club into a playoff team. Of course, that just means that Kelly the general manager should be getting at least as much criticism as Kelly the coach, since he was responsible for many of the roster decisions that have depleted the club’s talent.
  • After consecutive 10-6 seasons, Kelly didn’t suddenly becoming a bad coach, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who points out that there are Super Bowl-winning coaches that succeeded after flaming out in their previous head coaching jobs. Like Bowen though, McLane questions Kelly as a general manager, writing that Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie will have to decide if replacing Kelly as GM and/or head coach is the answer.

Extra Points: Martin, Manziel, Kelly, Coaches

As we progress into Thanksgiving night, here’s some news from around the league, beginning in Tampa Bay.

  • Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is set to hit the open market after this season, but it sounds like he wants to stay put. “I love Tampa. I built a house here,” Martin said, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (on Twitter). When asked if Tampa is his No. 1 priority, the tailback responded in the affirmative. On Tuesday, coach Lovie Smith called the fourth-year back a “priority” for the team in the offseason.
  • Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) hears that the decision by Browns coach Mike Pettine to bench Johnny Manziel is part of an overall power struggle between Pettine and GM Ray Farmer. Farmer and others within the organization would like to see Manziel continue on as the starter in 2015, but Pettine doesn’t believe that Manziel has made any strides towards getting his act together. Cole speculates that Pettine could move to trade or cut Manziel in the offseason and that could lead to a showdown between the coach and GM.
  • Black coaches around the league are concerned with the lack of black offensive coordinators or quarterback coaches, Cole hears (video link). There are only three black OCs — Hue Jackson (Bengals), Edgar Bennett (Packers) and Harold Goodwin (Cardinals) — and only Jackson calls plays for his team. Cole goes on to mention how there are no black quarterback coaches and how the coaches that spoke to him are observing a key avenue for potential promotions being largely cut off for black coaches.
  • Months after a Chip KellyMarcus Mariota reunion didn’t end up transpiring in the draft, the embattled Eagles coach could end up instructing him again, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Should Kelly be interested in coaching the Titans, whose placement of Mike Mularkey as head coach Florio views as a temporary status considering his past, the teams could work out a trade if Jeffrey Lurie is willing to part with Kelly after what’s looking like a disappointing season concludes. A trade or Kelly forcing his way out of Philadelphia could be in play, Florio offers.

    Sam Robinson contributed to this report 

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/25/15

Wednesday’s practice squad moves from around the NFL:

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: CB Dax Swanson (Twitter link via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald)
  • Cut: DT DeAndre Coleman

Oakland Raiders

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC Notes: Martin, Packers, Caldwell

Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, the 32nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, was one of 12 first-rounders from that year to have his fifth-year option for 2016 turned down by his team earlier this year. Tampa Bay may regret that decision now, though it’s possible that, without that motivation, Martin wouldn’t be having the season he is. The fourth-year back is currently the NFL’s second-leading rusher, with his 941 yards placing him behind only Adrian Peterson.

As Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times writes, the Bucs will have a tough call to make this offseason on Martin, whom Lovie Smith calls a “priority.” Tampa Bay has the flexibility to bring back the 26-year-old, and his production certainly warrants a new deal, but the club may decide that investing heavily on a running back coming off a huge bounce-back year isn’t the best use of its cap room.

Here are a few more items from across the NFC:

  • Having been cut by the Buccaneers a week ago, free agent safety D.J. Swearinger paid a visit to the Packers on Monday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Green Bay safety Micah Hyde left Sunday’s game against the Vikings with a hip issue, so the team may be considering veteran options in case Hyde has to miss time.
  • With the Lions all but eliminated from the playoff hunt, the job security of head coach Jim Caldwell has become a popular topic of discussion and speculation in Detroit. However, Caldwell told reporters, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, not to “fixate” on it, adding that “I don’t think about it as much as you do.” Assuming the Lions bring in an outside candidate to fill the permanent general manager role, it seems likely Caldwell will eventually be replaced by that new GM.
  • Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has yet to play a game during his second stint in New York, and his practice time has been limited so far, but head coach Tom Coughlin likes what he sees so far, per Fred Kerber of the New York Post. “He’s energetic, he looked good,” Coughlin said of Nicks. “Veteran experience, catcher, outstanding hands. He’ll work very hard. He’s excited about being here. He’s missed the opportunity to compete.”
  • The Talk of Fame Network spoke to former Panthers GM Marty Hurney, who is responsible for drafting a number of key contributors on this year’s 10-0 squad.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/23/15

Monday’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • Washington signed TE Je’Ron Hamm off the practice squad and released fellow tight end Anthony McCoy, John Keim of ESPN.com writes. Washington signed McCoy on September 7th and he played in six games while being inactive for the last three. McCoy did not give Washington the kind of blocking that they had hoped for but they’re likely not expecting that out of Hamm, either, since he is more of a receiving tight end.
  • For the second time in 2015, the Buccaneers have claimed linebacker Kourtnei Brown off waivers from the Texans, as Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 tweets. Brown spent three weeks with the Bucs before getting cut and getting signed to Tampa Bay’s taxi squad before joining Houston’s active roster. The 27-year-old played in one game for the Bucs earlier this season.
  • The Saints are going to sign outside linebacker Phillip Hunt, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • To make room, the Saints cut linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a source tells Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate (on Twitter).
  • The Ravens waived wide receiver Joe Morgan and promoted Chuck Jacobs from the taxi squad, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).

Kwon Alexander Faces Four-Game Suspension

4:35pm: Alexander claims the substance was in an energy drink he consumed, and he will appeal the suspension, tweets Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune.

8:32am: Buccaneers rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a four-game suspension, per Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times, who adds that the banned substance is believed to be contained in an over-the-counter supplement that Alexander consumed (Twitter links). According to Stroud, Alexander has been aware of the positive test for several weeks, but the NFL has not yet notified the team. Once the Bucs are formally notified, Alexander will have five business days to file an appeal. In the meantime, Alexander will continue to play, and in fact is expected to start against the Eagles this afternoon (Twitter links). Jenna Laine of Sports Talk Florida has tweeted confirmation of the news.

Although Tampa Bay is a full two games out of a wild card spot, the team has won two of its last three contests and is seeing a noticeable improvement in play from rookie signal-caller Jameis Winston. However, any playoff push it may make would be significantly hindered by losing Alexander, who has been one of the Bucs’ best defensive players this season and who is third on the team in solo tackles. The former LSU product, selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, has added two interceptions and two sacks in head coach Lovie Smith‘s linebacker-driven defense. Alexander has started all nine of the team’s games this year.

General manager Jason Licht has not commented on this development, as he is still awaiting notification from the league (Twitter link via Stroud). Should Alexander lose his appeal, or should he opt to not file one, Bruce Carter could see an increase in playing time.

QB Notes: Osweiler, Winston, Manziel, Kaep

Three years after the Broncos selected him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, quarterback Brock Osweiler will finally make his first career start Sunday. Osweiler has sat behind the now-injured Peyton Manning as QBs who were taken after him have garnered far more playing time. Seattle’s Russell Wilson, chosen 18 picks after Osweiler, is already a Super Bowl winner and one of the most decorated signal callers in the league. Kirk Cousins – who went 31 choices behind Osweiler – is doing a fine job in his first season as Washington’s starter. On the other hand, Nick Foles (45 picks after Osweiler) has cooled off significantly since a red-hot 2013 and is currently riding the bench in St. Louis.

The Broncos opted for Osweiler with the 57th pick in 2012 rather than someone like Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David – who went 58th – for multiple reasons, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com: 1. General manager John Elway liked Osweiler’s size (6-foot-8, 240 pounds), especially compared to the diminutive Wilson’s (5-11, 206). 2. Manning came to the Broncos that year off a major neck injury, so Denver wanted to make sure it could find an insurance policy as early as possible in the draft. In Elway’s opinion at the time, Osweiler was the best fit. We’ll begin finding out whether he can be the answer for 7-2 Denver when its struggling offense goes on the road Sunday to face 4-5 Chicago.

Here are some more QB notes from around the league:

  • Buccaneers rookie Jameis Winston has notified CNN that he could sue the network if it goes through with its Sunday plan to broadcast “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about college campus rape, according to ESPN. The documentary centers on Winston’s rape investigation from his time at Florida State and includes the first public interview with his accuser, Erica Kinsman. “We urge CNN to reconsider the reckless decision to proceed with the broadcast of this deeply-flawed documentary in the face of the overwhelming evidence the film’s producers consciously and intentionally failed to adhere to any accepted journalistic standards,” Winston’s lawyer wrote in a letter to CNN.
  • The Browns decided earlier this week that second-year man Johnny Manziel, not veteran Josh McCown, will start the rest of the season under center. Head coach Mike Pettine was committed to McCown earlier this season, but Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer opines that he made the choice because it’s time to truly see what Manziel can do. At 2-8, the Browns need to find out whether Manziel, a first-rounder in 2013, can be the answer going forward. If not, they might need to spend another top pick on a QB in next year’s draft. If the draft were today, they’d pick No. 1, which has often been a prime spot to land a franchise passer. Manziel has acquitted himself well statistically this season, especially in a 372-yard effort in a loss to Pittsburgh last Sunday, and will obviously need to continue doing so in order to convince the Browns to use their first-rounder on another position.
  • After the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick landed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn left labrum earlier Saturday, his brother tweeted that he played four and a half games with the injury. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora subsequently deduced that Kaepernick sustained the injury during a Week 4 loss to Green Bay. The 49ers are now acknowledging that they did examine Kaepernick’s shoulder after the Packers game, though they concluded at the time that he didn’t suffer a significant injury (Twitter link via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee).

NFC East Notes: Collins, Cruz, JPP

Before choosing to sign with the Cowboys, offensive lineman La’el Collins whittled down his list of suitors from 16, to eight, to six. That list of finalists included the the Bucs, Chargers, Dolphins, Falcons, Giants, and, of course, the Cowboys, Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report writes.

In total, agent Deryk Gilmore of Priority Sports estimates that he was contacted by at least 25 interested teams. Gilmore also estimates that Collins going undrafted cost his client at least $14MM, because that’s the amount that offensive lineman Ereck Flowers got from the Giants on a four-year deal. The agent feels that Collins would not have slipped past the Giants at No. 9, but that should probably be taken with a grain of salt since many mock drafts had the LSU product going later in the first round.

Here’s more out of the NFC East:

  • Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter) could see the Giants moving on from pending free agent wide receiver Rueben Randle this offseason. He feels that Victor Cruz, on the other hand, could be back with the team on a reduced deal. Graziano (on Twitter) also opines that Jason Pierre-Paul is more likely to stay with the club than he was a few weeks ago because of the way he has carried himself since his return. Things were rather contentious between JPP and the Giants this offseason, but everything seems to have mellowed and the defensive end has been productive.
  • Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones told SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link) that the competition committee was “unanimousin its decision to OK the trading of compensatory picks. The new rule “creates new opportunities” for teams looking to trade, he added.
  • Earlier tonight we ran down a few items on the Cowboys, including an op-ed from a leading NFLPA official regarding Greg Hardy.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/18/15

Let’s check in on the latest minor signings, cuts, and other transactions from around the NFL….

  • The Broncos claimed center Sam Brenner off waivers from the Dolphins, according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post (on Twitter). To make room, Shelley Smith has been waived (link).

Earlier Updates:

  • The Cowboys, armed with several open spots on their 53-man roster, activated linebacker Mark Nzeocha from the non-football injury list and promoted cornerback Deji Olatoye from their practice squad, per David Helman of DallasCowboys.com (Twitter link). Even after adding Nzeocha, Olatoye, and running back Robert Turbin, Dallas has one opening left on its roster.
  • The Lions officially placed Josh Wilson on injured reserve today due to a right knee injury, signing cornerback Bill Bentley to take Wilson’s spot on the roster, according to a press release. Bentley, a Lions’ third-round pick in 2012, will help provide depth at a position that his been hit hard by injuries.
  • The Buccaneers filled one of the two openings on their 53-man roster today by signing defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, the team announced in a press release. It’s the second time during the 2015 regular season that Sidbury has been added to Tampa Bay’s active roster.
  • The Giants have elevated safety Cooper Taylor from their practice squad to their active roster, the team announced today (via Twitter). Taylor started the year on the team’s injured reserve list, but was removed from IR and eventually rejoined the club.