Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rumors & News

Minor Moves: Tuesday

Today’s minor moves..

  • The Colts cut kicker Taylor Pontius, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). Pontius was a member of the Colts’ rookie minicamp as a tryout player in May and signed a contract soon after.
  • The Patriots announced that they have released rookie defensive back Eric Patterson. Patterson, 22, was signed by the Pats as a UDFA back in May. The Ball State product started in 28 of 41 games during his collegiate career and finished with 135 total tackles and six interceptions.
  • The Vikings announced that they have signed free agent defensive tackle Chrishon Rose. Rose, who comes out of East Carolina, played in 13 games as a senior, posting 41 total tackles including 14 solo stops. Rose’s defensive unit held 18 opponents to 100 or less rushing yards in his four seasons at ECU.
  • The Packers have signed tackle Vince Kowalski, a UDFA from Villanova, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The signing brings Green Bay to the full 90-man roster limit. Kowalski started all four seasons at Villanova and was named first-team in his conference last season.
  • Rams sixth-round pick Bud Sasser went unclaimed off waivers and is now a free agent, Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • Washington has signed tackle Bryce Quigley and cut quarterback Hutson Mason, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post (on Twitter). Mason was serving as an extra arm behind Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, and Kirk Cousins in camp.
  • Former Northern Arizona punter Andy Wilder, who went undrafted last spring, has been cut by the Buccaneers, according to Wilson (on Twitter).
  • The Panthers will sign former Raiders tight end Scott Simonson to a one-year deal, a source tells Wilson (on Twitter).

Buccaneers To Claim Spencer Lanning

The Buccaneers are claiming punter Spencer Lanning off waivers today, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Typically, we’d have to wait for the NFL to confirm the transaction, in case multiple teams put in claims. However, the Bucs have the league’s top waiver priority this offseason, so Lanning will be headed to Tampa Bay.

In 2014, only two punters had more attempts than the 93 punts Lanning made for the Browns. On those 93 attempts, he averaged 44.5 yards, with a net distance of 39.2 yards per punt. Those were middle-of-the-road numbers, and the Browns took the opportunity to try to upgrade the position over the weekend when they acquired Andy Lee from the 49ers for a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick, waiving Lanning in the corresponding move.

In Tampa Bay, Lanning will compete for the starting job with incumbent punter Michael Koenen and Northern Arizona product Andy Wilder, who was signed as a free agent in March. Koenen may head into camp with the edge, but his $3.25MM cap hit, which includes no dead money, makes him vulnerable if one of the younger, cheaper players impresses.

NFC Mailbags: Washington, Glennon, Panthers, McClain

It’s Saturday, and that means ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags and answering questions from readers. Let’s take a look at some interesting notes from the NFC…

  • If DeSean Jackson struggles in 2015, John Keim could envision the wideout playing elsewhere in 2016. Washington selected Jamison Crowder in the fourth round, so they have young wideouts to move forward with. However, if the veteran produces, Keim could see the Pro Bowler sticking around.
  • Pat Yasinskas believes Mike Glennon will spend this season with the Buccaneers, even if the quarterback has a good preseason and improves his trade value. The 25-year-old is a solid backup, and the writer believes the team would have already dealt Glennon if they had any intention to move him.
  • With the Cam Newton deal wrapped up, David Newton would expect the Panthers to sign linebacker Thomas Davis to a new deal prior to training camp. Since Luke Kuechly will definitely be on the roster for the 2016 season, the writer believes the team won’t rush to sign the former Defensive Player of the Year.
  • When asked why Rolando McClain took so long to opt for surgery, Todd Archer clarified that surgery is always a “last-case option.” However, the writer questions why the Cowboys linebacker hasn’t been at Valley Ranch for rehab.

Bucs’ Demar Dotson Seeking New Contract

Buccaneers right tackle Demar Dotson has not been in attendance at the team’s OTAs this week, and according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Dotson’s absence is contract-related. The veteran offensive lineman is seeking a new contract, and the two sides are engaged in contract negotiations, per Auman.

While the Buccaneers have struggled to find a reliable left tackle in recent years, they have received steady production on the right side from Dotson, who has started all but one game for the team since the start of the 2012 season. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Dotson has recorded a positive grade in each of the last three seasons, and ranked 28th out of 84 qualified tackles in 2014.

Dotson’s solid play has come at a discount for the Buccaneers, who have paid the 29-year-old only $5MM over his last three seasons. Dotson is set to get a pay bump to $2.5MM in 2015, but that’s still well below what other reliable starting right tackles are earning.

Dotson may be deserving of a raise, but as Auman observes, the Bucs may also be reluctant to give too much ground. After all, the Southern Mississippi product still has two seasons left on his contract, and giving him a significant raise would send a message to the rest of the team that holding out from voluntary workouts is an effective negotiating tactic. Still, it sounds like GM Jason Licht and the front office have been in touch with Dotson’s agent, so perhaps a compromise can be reached before the tackle’s holdout stretches into the summer.

Extra Points: Winston, Liuget, Harris

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is high on rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, as Jenna Laine of Sports Talk Florida writes. However, he says the real test of his abilities is yet to come. “He’s a first-overall pick. Of course you see the talent,” McCoy said of Winston. “You’ve got to give it some time, guys. Everything is real basic right now. Until we put on pads and I can actually chase him, then I’ll tell you how good he is.

  • There has been a lot of positive momentum in the Chargers‘ efforts to sign defensive end Corey Liuget to a contract extension, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego tweets. The two sides are getting closer, according to a source that spoke with Gehlken.
  • Titans cornerback Brandon Harris suffered a torn ACL during today’s practice, according to a source that spoke with Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean (on Twitter). Harris, who signed a one-year deal with the Titans during the offseason, now faces a lengthy rehab process. The 25-year-old earned 112 defensive snaps for the Titans in 2014, recording 11 tackles and three passes defended. He was selected by the Texans in the second round of the 2011 draft and although he wasn’t expected to play a starring role this year, he was being counted upon for depth at the cornerback position.
  • Falcons coach Dan Quinn supported the team’s quick decision to release linebacker Prince Shembo, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. Naturally, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who went through the Michael Vick federal dog fighting investigation of 2007, was involved in the decision to release Shembo.
  • The Ravens were glad to snag cornerback Tray Walker in the fourth round of this year’s draft, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun writes. The Ravens knew that the Texas Southern product was drawing widespread interest, so they were over the moon to get him at No. 136. “He’s a guy that we had targeted,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “We really hoped to get him in the draft. He’s a guy that we wanted to get in the mid-rounds. We were looking to try to draft him, and we were able to do it.
  • The Dolphins should be happy that they got Ryan Tannehill‘s deal done before Cam Newton‘s new pact with the Panthers, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets. The total money given to Tannehill may not have changed, but the contract security likely would have been different.
  • The Chargers and mayor Kevin Faulconer met to discuss the possibility of a new stadium on Tuesday, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com writes. “Today we and our negotiating team met with Chargers chairman Dean Spanos and his adviser Mark Fabiani for more than an hour,” Faulconer’s spokesperson Craig Gustafson said in a prepared statement. “It was a productive discussion on a variety of issues, and both parties agreed to meet again within the next several days.”

NFC Notes: Newton, Bucs, Packers

Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) expects Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to top Ben Roethlisberger‘s $34.25MM in fully guaranteed cash at signing. Newton’s agent secured $38MM fully guaranteed at signing for fellow client Jay Cutler. Here’s more out of the NFC..

  • Curious about Newton’s pending deal with the Panthers? Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer wrote up a FAQ about the pact, which will keep Newton under contract with the Panthers through 2020. Person notes that even though Newton’s deal is lucrative, it shouldn’t hamper the team’s ability to lock up star linebacker Luke Kuechly. That’s because GM Dave Gettleman cut high-priced veterans such as Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams in favor of low-cost free agents.
  • The Buccaneers have a pair of long snappers on their roster already, in Andrew DePaola and rookie Courtland Clavette, but the team took a look at another one today, working out veteran free agent Brandon Hartson, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link).
  • Don’t expect the Packers to take advantage of the post-June 1 designation by cutting any pricey veterans this month, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. As Demovsky notes, the club already made its major cap-savings moves, releasing linebackers A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones in February.

Buccaneers Sign Donovan Smith

The Buccaneers now have their top two draft picks under contract, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com, who tweets a photo of second-round offensive tackle Donovan Smith signing his rookie deal. In a press release announcing the transaction, the team notes that seventh-round fullback Joey Iosefa has also inked his contract, so only second-round lineman Ali Marpet remains unsigned.

The 34th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Smith will be in line for a four-year contract worth about $6.069MM, with a signing bonus of approximately $2.674MM, per Over The Cap. Because he was selected just outside of the first round, Smith’s deal won’t feature a fifth-year option, meaning he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency following the 2018 season.

Smith is expected to immediately assume the starting role at the left tackle position, replacing the ineffective Anthony Collins, who was released earlier in the offseason. Assuming he starts the year at left tackle, Smith will be protecting the blind side of quarterback Jameis Winston, who was the first player selected in this year’s draft, and was also the first draftee to sign his rookie contract.

Sunday Roundup: NFL In LA, Austin, Martin

Let’s have a look at a few links from around the league, which include a few Twitter mailbags:

  • As San Diego tries to keep the Chargers from moving to Los Angeles, it is becoming increasingly clear that the team has all the leverage, writes David Garrick of the San Diego Union-Tribune. As Garrick writes, the city has to make a new stadium deal sweet enough to make the Chargers want to stay, but not too sweet, because then it would be rejected at the polls. It is a tightrope that will be exceedingly difficult to walk.
  • Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com takes a look at how the explosive Tavon Austin will fit in the Rams‘ run-heavy offense, and he also notes that Brian Quick should be ready to suit up for Week 1.
  • Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com believes the Bears‘ overhaul of their defense is a two-year project, and the team will need another offseason to complement its core of players like Pernell McPhee and Kyle Fuller.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com is surprised that Washington did not do more to address its thin tight end position in the offseason, but at this point, the team will simply have to hope Jordan Reed stays healthy or that someone like Chase Dixon or Je’Ron Hamm develops.
  • Doug Martin recently moved from California to Tampa Bay even though the Buccaneers opted not to pick up the option on the fifth year of his rookie contract. But now that Tampa Bay is truly home for Martin, Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune writes that the injury-plagued back will have every incentive to earn a new deal with the club.
  • Mike Wells of ESPN.com believes it is unlikely that the Colts will add another player to compete for the right tackle spot. Jack Mewhort and Joe Reitz are getting the majority of the snaps there at the moment, but newly-acquired Todd Herremans can play right tackle if necessary and Indianapolis remains optimistic that Gosder Cherilus can make a healthy return.

NFC Mailbags: Rams, Bucs, Vikings, Panthers, Cardinals

It’s Saturday, and that means ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags and answering questions from readers. Let’s start with notes from the NFC…

  • Considering Benny Cunningham‘s role as a third-down blocker and kick returner, Nick Wagoner doesn’t believe it’s realistic for the Rams to pay Isaiah Pead just to be the fourth running back.
  • Pat Yasinskas wouldn’t be surprised if the Buccaneers and linebacker Lavonte David agree to a longterm extension prior to training camp. The writer guesses an annual value of about $8MM for the former second-round pick.
  • The Vikings and Adrian Peterson haven’t made any progress towards a restructured deal, according to Ben Goessling. The writer assumes that the organization would prefer to get Peterson in for a meeting before they sign him to a new deal. Goessling also notes that most of the team’s moves are with an eye towards 2016, when they move into a new stadium. If the team didn’t have plans for Peterson to be on the roster during that season, they wouldn’t be “bothering” with this current back-and-forth.
  • If the Panthers offense struggles in 2015, David Newton believes the blame will be attributed to offensive coordinator Mike Shula. However, the writer would caution declaring this a “make-or-break” season for Shula.
  • Unless Joe Webb can prove his value as a wideout or special-teams player, Newton has a tough time envisioning the quarterback making the Panthers roster.
  • The competition for the Cardinals third quarterback job is Logan Thomas‘ to lose, says Josh Weinfuss. Phillip Sims or Chandler Harnish could ultimately prove to be better options, but Weinfuss believes the competition is coach Bruce Arians‘ way of motivating Thomas.

QB Notes: Tebow, Winston, McCown, Rivers

After being away from the game for the past two years, Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow is thrilled about his new opportunity. The former Heisman winner is behind Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley on the team’s depth chart, but the competition is far from Tebow’s mind.

“I think sometimes when things are taken away, then you don’t realize how much fun it is to come out here and play this game,” Tebow told Nate Davis of USA Today“You can’t play it forever, so I’m going to enjoy it.”

Coach Chip Kelly had been thrilled with the 27-year-old’s performance in OTAs.

“I think he’s improved,” Kelly said. “He’s had a lot of time the last two years working at his game. (We) wanted to have a fourth quarterback here.”

Let’s check out some more notes regarding some of the league’s signal callers…

  • First-overall pick Jameis Winston is impressing the Buccaneers coaching staff during OTAs. “We have to kind of tell him when to leave,” head coach Lovie Smith told ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas. “For him, there’s been a lot of individual work, but having a chance this week to go against our best defense and things like that [has been good]. We have a long ways to go. But we like where he is right now.”
  • Browns quarterback Josh McCown has been “virtually anointed” the starting gig without a “hint” of competition, opines Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com. While teammates and coaches have supported sophomore Johnny Manziel, Grossi says the former first-rounder is struggling after a rough offseason.
  • Meanwhile, McCown says he wouldn’t have even considered visiting other teams (including the Bills and the Bears) if he had been aware of the talent on the Browns offensive line. “After being with them, 5-6 weeks, it’s like, had I known it was this good I wouldn’t even needed to take a visit (to Buffalo and Chicago),” McCown told Grossi.
  • Considering Ben Roethlisberger‘s recent extension, Jason Fitzgerald (writing for the Sporting News) believes Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers‘ next contract could surpass the total of Aaron Rodgers‘ extension. Rivers has previously been paid more than Roethlisberger, who came close to topping Rodgers’ contract’s average annual value.