Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rumors & News

South Notes: Bucs, Cotchery, Hasselbeck

After watching Cam Newton and the Panthers win 15 games in his division in 2015, then seeing Newton run for his life against a fearsome Broncos pass rush in the Super Bowl, Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander would like to see his team make an effort this offseason to add some more defensive players capable of wreaking havoc in opposing backfields.

“We need to get some more guys to, you know, to get some push on the quarterback,” Alexander said during an appearance on WDAE-AM 620 (link via JoeBucsFan.com). “I think that’s what we’re going to be drafting this year, defensive ends. We had great defensive ends this year, but we need a little more help. So whoever we can get, you know, we’re going to need that pressure to get Cam and, you know, try to get to the Super Bowl this season.”

As general manager Jason Licht takes Alexander’s recommendations under consideration, let’s check in on some other updates from around the NFL’s South divisions….

  • Thursday is the day that the contracts for Panthers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and safety Roman Harper void, so both players will officially become free agents when the new league year begins, tweets Joel Corry of CBSSports.com. For his part, Cotchery said this week that he’s not sure what his future holds, but he has only positive things to say about the two years he has spent in Carolina (link via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review).
  • By the end of his 2015 campaign with the Colts, Matt Hasselbeck was pretty banged up, but the veteran quarterback said today during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle that he’s “strongly leaning toward” playing another season (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of 710 ESPN Seattle). Hasselbeck is an unrestricted free agent, so if he does continue his NFL career, there’s no guarantee that will happen in Indianapolis.
  • The agent for veteran guard Jahri Evans, who was released by the Saints this week, said on SportsRadio 94 WIP today that New Orleans asked Evans to take a pay cut to remain with the team, but his client wasn’t willing to do that for the second consecutive year (Twitter link via Matt Moscona of ESPN New Orleans). Evans signed a new contract last April that reduced his salary for 2016.

Workout Notes: 2/9/16

NFL’s 2016 free agent period doesn’t officially open until March 9th, but players who didn’t finish the season on a roster – or who have since been cut – are free to work out with teams and sign contracts right away. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle has several updates on those free agents who are visiting and/or auditioning for NFL teams, so let’s round up the latest:

  • Before he agreed to sign a reserve/futures contract with Washington, former Steelers first-round defensive lineman Ziggy Hood tried out for the Raiders. Oakland also brought in former Fresno State edge defender Tristan Okpalaugo for a visit (Twitter links).
  • Veteran defensive back Jeromy Miles and ex-Broncos tight end Dan Light recently auditioned for the Chiefs (Twitter link). Miles, who has appeared in 67 career regular-season games for the Bengals and Ravens, was cut last September by the Giants, while Light lost his practice squad spot in Denver following the team’s AFC Championship win over New England.
  • The Bengals recently worked out – but did not sign – offensive tackle Sean Donnelly, safety Zach Elias, running back Alonzo Harris, running back Storm Johnson and wide receiver Rico Richardson (Twitter link). Those players were part of a larger group of eight, with the remaining three players earning contracts.
  • Former Cowboys defensive tackle Ken Bishop, a seventh-round pick in 2014, worked out for the Buccaneers (Twitter link).
  • Former Pitt offensive guard Jason Pinkston recently visited the Steelers (link). The Steelers also recently worked out linebacker Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, wide receiver Issac Blakeney, long snapper Matt Dooley, defensive back Montell Garner, offensive guard Cole Manhart, wide receiver Tobais Palmer, cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz, and defensive tackle Josh Watson (Twitter links).

2015 NFL Award Winners

The NFL announced this season’s award winners at last night’s “NFL Honors” event. The complete list can be found here, but the highlights are as follows:

AP Most Valuable Player:
Cam Newton
, QB, Panthers

AP Offensive Player of the Year:
Newton

AP Defensive Player of the Year:
J.J. Watt, DE, Texans

Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year:
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year:
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

AP Defensive Rookie of the Year:
Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs

AP Coach of the Year:
Ron Rivera, Panthers

AP Comeback Player of the Year:
Eric Berry, S, Chiefs

Walter Payton Man of the Year:
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

2016 NFL Hall of Fame Class:
Brett Favre, QB; Kevin Greene, LB; Marvin Harrison, WR; Orlando Pace, OL; Tony Dungy, coach; Ken Stabler, QB; Dick Stanfel, OL; Eddie DeBartolo, owner

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/5/16

The NFL offseason hasn’t yet officially begun, but clubs are still making small moves as they wait for the beginning of the new league year. Let’s dive into the latest:

  • The Buccaneers have signed four players to reserve/futures deals, inking defensive tackle Davon Coleman, defensive tackle Cliff Matthews, defensive end Jermauria Rasco, and receiver Bernard Reedy, the club announced. Matthews, 26, has the most experience of the bunch, having played in 32 games over the past three seasons with the Falcons (former Atlanta head coach Mike Smith, notably, is Tampa Bay’s new defensive coordinator).
  • Former Lions running back Mikel Leshoure is back in professional football, but it’s with the CFL as opposed to the NFL. The 25-year-old Leshoure has signed with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League, reports Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (link). A former second-round pick, Leshoure’s best season came in 2012, when he ran for nearly 800 yards and nine touchdowns with Detroit.

South Notes: Titans, D. Martin, Colts, M. Martin

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota obviously has some pull with his franchise, but he told Pro Football Talk that he didn’t want to be significantly involved with the team’s head coaching search.

“I didn’t want any input or anything like that,” Mariota said. “They did ask. They asked about Chip Kelly, about Coach (Mike) Mularkey. They obviously asked my opinions about people here and there, but I wanted them to make their own decision.”

Last month, the Titans made the call to elevate Mularkey from interim head coach to head coach, while Kelly – Mariota’s old head coach at Oregon – joined the Niners.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s South divisions:

  • Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is eligible to hit the open market in March but on Thursday, he took yet another opportunity to profess his love for Tampa Bay. “I love Tampa and Tampa loves me,” Martin told PFT. “I’ve got a house out there so I do wish I’ll go back to Tampa.” Muscle Hamster Martin also said that he was surprised by the firing of coach Lovie Smith, though he’s excited about playing for Dirk Koetter, who was elevated from offensive coordinator.
  • Colts owner Jim Irsay told WISH-TV’s Anthony Calhoun that he hopes to see Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning retire as a member of the Colts, signing a one-day contract with Indianapolis when he decides to call it a career. Of course, rumors have been swirling in recent weeks that Super Bowl 50 could be Manning’s final game. Then again, maybe this won’t be Manning’s “last rodeo” — the Rams have reportedly discussed Manning internally as they gear up for their move to Los Angeles.
  • Titans defensive lineman Mike Martin has had to adjust to several different schemes throughout his college and NFL career, as his teams made multiple coaching changes. As he tells Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, Martin – a pending free agent – is hoping for some stability with his next team, assuming he isn’t back with Tennessee.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC South Notes: Brees, Tolbert, Scobee, Bucs

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has just one year left on his contract, and is set to count for $30MM on New Orleans’ 2016 cap, meaning it’s essentially inevitable that the two sides will discuss an extension at some point this winter. So far though, negotiations between the quarterback and the team haven’t gotten underway, Brees said today during an appearance on ESPN (link via Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com).

“If conversations are to be had, they haven’t happened yet,” Brees said. “But when they do that will be between us, and then we’ll kind of announce that, and everybody will find out at the same time.”

Brees, who said on The Dan Patrick Show today that he expects to remain in New Orleans for the rest of his career, will have $10.85MM of his base salary for 2016 become fully guaranteed next week.

Here’s more from out of the NFC South:

  • Asked this week about his pending free agency, fullback Mike Tolbert said he hopes this Sunday’s game isn’t his last with the Panthers, adding that he “absolutely” wants to re-sign with the team, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “These guys are my brothers,” Tolbert said. “I don’t want to leave any more than the next guy. But I have to do what’s best for my family and for me. If moving is part of it, then that’s a part of it. But I don’t want to.”
  • Veteran kicker Josh Scobee had a tryout with the Saints on Wednesday, but didn’t sign a contract, a source tells Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). The longtime Jaguars kicker was acquired in a trade by the Steelers in September, but struggled during his brief stint in Pittsburgh, missing four field goals and an extra point in four games. He was cut in October.
  • The Buccaneers have plenty of cap room at their disposal this offseason, but Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap is skeptical that they’ll use a big chunk of it, as he explains in his preview of Tampa Bay’s offseason.

Bucs Rumors: Glennon, Martin, Jackson

Mike Glennon, the subject of trade rumors and speculation nearly every offseason, is expected to be retained by the Buccaneers for the 2016 season, according to general manager Jason Licht. Licht tells Scott Reynolds of PewterReport.com that he intends for Glennon to enter the ’16 season as Jameis Winston‘s backup.Mike Glennon

“Mike Glennon is just so valuable to us right now while we have him, while he’s under contract, I feel like we have two starting quarterbacks with him and Jameis,” Licht said. “If you just go out and get a mid-round pick for him, the chances of the mid-round pick working out or drafting a quarterback and that pick working out, the odds aren’t in your favor. Unless there’s [an offer] that blows us away, I think you lean towards keeping him and having him on your roster.”

As Reynolds explains, the Buccaneers view the idea of keeping Glennon as a win-win proposition. Either he eventually extends his contract with Tampa Bay and the team continues to have a very solid backup behind Winston, or he eventually leaves in free agency and earns the Bucs a compensatory draft pick.

According to Reynolds, the club may showcase Glennon this summer in the preseason, but it would be more about improving his stock for free agency – and therefore improving the Bucs’ comp pick – rather than showcasing him as a trade chip.

Here are a couple more items of interest out of Tampa Bay, via Reynolds:

  • The Buccaneers met with agent David Dunn at the Senior Bowl this week to begin preliminary contract talks for running back Doug Martin, according to Reynolds. Tampa Bay does not intend to use its franchise tag on Martin, since the one-year price tag would be exorbitant for a running back, but the two sides are hopeful that they can work something out before free agency begins on March 9.
  • The Buccaneers plan to bring back veteran receiver Vincent Jackson for the 2016 season without adjusting his salary or his cap hit, reports Reynolds. Jackson’s $12.21MM cap hit is sizable, but the Bucs have plenty of cap room and don’t view the free agent market or draft class this year as particularly strong for wideouts.
  • Tampa Bay will likely add at least one receiver in free agency or the draft for depth purposes, but the team likes its current group, according to Reynolds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Titans, McDermott, Falcons

In a fascinating piece for Bleacher Report, former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist shared some details about his recent interview for the Titans‘ GM position, explaining what he would have done during his first days, weeks, and months on the job if he had been hired by the club.

The entire piece is worth reading, and features a handful of interesting tidbits from Sundquist, who writes that there were some indications that Titans ownership, which wanted to retain head coach Mike Mularkey and stay the course within the front office, “wasn’t necessarily looking for a complete diagnosis of its problems.”

Here’s more Friday reading from around the NFL’s South divisions:

  • Albert Breer of the NFL Network echoes what Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reported earlier today, writing that the Titans are “very open to the idea” of shopping the first overall pick. However, Breer cautions that the Titans still want to walk away from the draft with an elite prospect, so there will be a limit to how far the team is willing to trade down. A handful of clubs picking between 11 and 15 could be in the market for a quarterback, but that would be a long way for those teams to move up, and a long way for Tennessee to move down, says Breer.
  • While the Buccaneers ultimately opted to name Dirk Koetter their new head coach, Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott interviewed “very, very well” with Tampa Bay, according to Breer. McDermott figures to be a strong candidate for a head coaching job in 2017.
  • Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff acknowledged that 2016 feels like a make-or-break year for him, though he added the caveat that he views every year that way, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.
  • Dimitroff also suggested that the Falcons will continue to shop for discounts and values in free agency rather than making a big splash, and said the team has yet to make a decision on Roddy White‘s future, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution details in a pair of articles.

NFC Notes: Cardinals, Cowboys, Buccaneers

Cardinals running back Chris Johnson hasn’t played since late November because of a fractured tibia, but the team will activate him for Super Bowl 50 if it defeats Carolina in the NFC title game, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reports (Twitter link via Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo). Johnson, 30, rushed for 814 yards and three touchdowns in 11 regular-season games before landing on IR-DTR. He returned to practice earlier this month.

More on the potentially Super Bowl-bound Cards and a couple of their fellow NFC teams:

  • The Cowboys are making adjustments to their offensive coaching staff, per ESPN’s Todd Archer. Steve Loney, who was the Cowboys’ assistant offensive line coach this season, will become the tight ends coach. That leaves the future of incumbent TEs coach Mike Pope unclear. Marc Colombo, who played for Dallas from 2005-10, will take over Loney’s old post as the club’s assistant O-line coach.
  • Carson Palmer‘s $6.35MM base salary for 2016 is on track to increase by $800,000 because of playing time escalators, tweets CBS Sports’ Joel Corry. If that happens, Palmer’s $8.15MM base salary for 2017 will decrease by the same total, however, per Corry (Twitter link).
  • The Buccaneers are hiring Brett Maxie as a defensive backs coach, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Tribune (Twitter link). Maxie, who coached Vanderbilt defensive backs the last two years, will join Jon Hoke as the Bucs’ second DBs coach.

Buccaneers Hire Todd Monken As OC

The Buccaneers have hired Southern Mississippi head coach Todd Monken as their new offensive coordinator, the club announced today. The position was vacated, obviously, when Tampa Bay promoted Dirk Koetter to head coach. Per the team, Monken will also serve as receivers coach.Todd Monken (Vertical)

[RELATED: Buccaneers hire Mike Smith as defensive coordinator]

“I am very excited to add a coach with the type of experience and tenacity that Todd brings,” said Koetter in a statement. “I have always been impressed with his approach to the game as well as his ability to teach concepts and get the best out of his players. During his more than 25-year coaching career, he has made a name for himself as a very successful offensive coordinator and head coach on the collegiate level.”

Monken is certainly an outside-the-box hire, as there had been no reports linking him to Tampa Bay or any other NFL vacancies. But the move isn’t completely out of left field, as Monken has a history with Koetter —the pair worked together on the Jaguars’ staff from 2007-10 (Koetter as OC, Monken as WRs coach). For what it’s worth, that time in Jacksonville represents Monken’s only NFL experience.

[RELATED: 2016 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Tracker]

In his first head coaching job, the 49-year-old Monken has certainly turned around the Southern Miss program, improving from a 1-11 record during his first season in 2013 to a 9-5 mark during last year’s campaign. He’ll step into an enviable position in Tampa, as the Buccaneers are equipped with a potential franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston, an elite receiver in Mike Evans, and a solid — but free agent — running back in Doug Martin.

Koetter has already announced that he will call the offensive plays for the Buccaneers, so Monken will presumably act in more of a game-planning and administrative role.