Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC North Notes: Cobb, Packers, Bears

The latest from the NFC North..

  • The Packers are expected to keep the duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb together, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Still, with $14.25MM already committed to Nelson this season, GM Ted Thompson has to figure out how to keep Cobb in the fold as well. Cobb is in the final season of his rookie extension and Green Bay has other needs to take care of with their projected $8.8MM in cap space. The feeling around the league is that there’s no way the Packers would let him hit free agency next March. “It will get done,” said an NFL personnel executive. “He’s a Ted guy.”
  • Lovie Smith is preaching a different defense with the Buccaneers, and the Bears have taken notice, writes CSNChicago.com’s John Mullin. “They’ve played a lot of man-to-man coverage, more than you’d think,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “You look at where they’ve been defensively, and they’re moving man-to-man coverage significantly.
  • More from Mullin, who wonders if the newly-signed Marc Mariani is the key to the Bears turning their return game around. Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis spoke highly of Mariani’s “returner mechanics” and attributed that to the tutelage of former coach Jeff Fisher. Mariani went to the 2010 Pro Bowl as a member of the Titans.

Extra Points: Peterson, Vick, Cribbs, McCown

Ahead of the Buccaneers‘ showdown with the Bears, coach Lovie Smith says that he’s focused on turning things around in Tampa Bay, not on reuniting with his old friends from Chicago, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Still, Smith has fond memories of his time with the Bears and he doesn’t harbor any ill-will towards them. “My memories of my time are in Chicago are all great. I have lifetime friends from Chicago. I don’t have many bad memories on any place I have ever been. We won a lot of games. That is what I remember. And the fans there were awesome when we were winning all those games,” said the coach. More from around the league..

  • Jets quarterback Michael Vick has plenty of football left in him, writes NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling. “I would love to play again, at least get it out of my system for two more years,” Vick said, via NFL Media’s Kimberly Jones. “Because I know I got it in me.”
  • If Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has learned from his mistakes, he’s sure not showing it, writes Christine Brennan of USA Today. If the goal the past week was to get back on the field as soon as possible, blowing off a meeting with the NFL commissioner was not the way to do it, no matter what the players’ union was whispering in his ear, Brennan writes. Peterson’s appeal is set to take place on December 2nd, but it sounds like a longshot to say the least.
  • Josh Cribbs‘ deal with the Colts is a two-year pact, according to Mike Chappell of the Indy Star (on Twitter). The 31-year-old has made a name for himself in the NFL as a kick return specialist.
  • Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune looked back at Josh McCown‘s journey from last year to this year. McCown emerged as a very capable fill-in for the Bears last season when Jay Cutler went down. Over the offseason, he joined up with the Bucs and despite some hiccups, he is coming off of a very solid road win over Washington.

Practice Squad Updates: Wednesday

We’ll round up today’s practice squad signings and cuts in this space, with the latest moves added to the top of the list throughout the day….

  • The Packers have filled the lone opening on their practice squad by signing guard Rishaw Johnson, the team announced today. Johnson previously spent time this season on the Buccaneers’ active roster and the Cowboys’ practice squad.

Earlier updates:

  • The Steelers, who cut LeGarrette Blount and promoted running back Josh Harris to their roster yesterday, have added another back to the practice squad to replace Harris. LaDarius Perkins, an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi State who spent the summer with the Packers, is the newest member of the taxi squad, per Burt Lauten (via Twitter).
  • Defensive end George Uko, who spent three weeks on the Buccaneers‘ practice squad earlier this year, has been re-signed to the unit, the team announced today in a press release. Tampa Bay cut punter Jacob Schum to make room for Uko.
  • After cutting him earlier this week to accommodate the activation of guard Geoff Schwartz, the Giants have re-signed linebacker Justin Anderson to their practice squad, tweets Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

Minor Moves: Monday

Here are Monday’s minor transactions, including practice squad signings and cuts, from around the NFL:

  • The Ravens have replaced one tight end with another on their practice squad, signing Allen Reisner and cutting Emmanuel Ogbuehi, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Reisner had been on the open market since being dropped from the Patriots’ practice squad back in September.
  • Joe Flacco‘s younger brother Michael Flacco has been released from the Jaguars‘ taxi squad, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (via Twitter). Flacco had been with the unit for a little over a month.
  • Washington announced a change to its practice squad today, tweeting that the club has released wideout Rashad Ross and replaced him with offensive tackle Michael Huey.
  • Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link) reports that the Buccaneers have cut wideout and return man Trindon Holliday from their injured reserve list. Holliday appeared in just one game for the team last month before being placed on IR with a hamstring injury.

Buccaneers Likely To Make Offseason Trades

The Buccaneers were one of the most oft-mentioned teams preceding the trade deadline last month, and although they did end up making two deals – shipping Mark Barron to the Rams and Jonathan Casillas to the Patriots – Tampa retained many of the players who were rumored to be on the trading block. The club isn’t finished reworking its roster, however, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports that the Bucs will shop Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, and Dashon Goldson during the offseason.

Jackson seemed to be the likeliest candidate to be traded before the deadline; while his production has waned this season, an acquiring team could have easily released him after the season if he didn’t improve. The Eagles were reportedly interested in trading for the veteran receiver, but wouldn’t meet Tampa Bay’s asking price of a second-round pick. With pass-catcher Mike Evans showing that he can be the focal point of a passing attack, it makes sense that the Bucs would want to get out from under Jackson’s contract while at the same time recouping some value.

Martin has been injured and/or ineffective since his excellent rookie season, but because he still offers potential, and is playing on a cheap rookie contract, teams like the Patriots were interested in acquiring him before the deadline. The Buccaneers drafted fellow running back Charles Sims in the third round of this year’s draft, and with Bobby Rainey also proving himself as a competent ball-carrier, the club could view Martin as expendable.

Goldson will be almost impossible to move; given his subpar level of play and his enormous contract, the Bucs would be likely to receive a conditional seventh-round pick in exchange for the veteran safety. He’s due a $7.5MM base salary in 2015 ($3MM of which is guaranteed), and he’s graded as the third-worst safety in the league among 85 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Pat Yasinkas of ESPN.com recently concluded that it was unlikely that Goldson would return to Tampa next season, and while I agree, it’s far more likely that he’s released than traded.

In the same piece, La Canfora reports that the Buccaneers are likely to bring in a new offensive coordinator next season. Jeff Tedford, who had never before called plays at the NFL level, was slated to act as Tampa Bay’s OC, but health concerns have caused him to sit out the entire season. Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo has taken over play-calling duties, but La Canfora says the offensive staff has been “undermanned and scrambling,” and they’re unsurprisingly 31st in offensive DVOA.

NFC Notes: Cutler, Lynch, Ingram

Jay Cutler‘s future with the Bears has grown quite murky over the course of his shaky 2014 campaign, and David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune writes that the league’s highest-paid player this season also looks like its worst bargain. Haugh adds that if Chicago replaces head coach Marc Trestman or GM Phil Emery in 2015, Cutler’s stability vanishes completely. Furthermore, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes, the Bears could trade Cutler after this season and save $12.5MM. The team is therefore not financially tethered to the quarterback it hoped would be its franchise savior, and Schefter reports that there would be a fair amount of interest in Cutler if Chicago were to make him available via trade.

Now for some more links from the NFC:

Workout Updates: Holmes, Pryor, Lewis

After having been released by the Bears earlier this week to make room for Marquess Wilson, wide receiver Santonio Holmes passed through waivers unclaimed and is on the lookout for a new job. And according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (via Twitter), the veteran wideout has already paid a visit to Kansas City to meet with the Chiefs, a team that could use a receiver — through nine games, no Chiefs wide receivers have a touchdown this season.

While we wait to see if Holmes ends up signing with Kansas City or another club, let’s round up a few more Saturday updates on free agent visits, workouts, and auditions around the league….

  • With Nick Foles on the shelf, the Eagles just have two healthy quarterbacks on the active roster, and while a move is unlikely, the team is keeping an eye on free agent options just in case. According to Florio (via Twitter), Philadelphia worked out signal-callers Terrelle Pryor and Thad Lewis.
  • Lou Young, who was cut from the Jaguars’ practice squad earlier this week, was one of a handful of defensive backs to try out for the Cowboys, along with Robert Steeples and Jonte Green, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
  • In addition to the previously-reported punters that worked out for the Buccaneers this week, punter Jake Dombrowski and long snapper Charley Hughlett also auditioned for the club, according to Wilson (via Twitter).
  • Defensive tackle Kenny Horsley, who auditioned for the Packers earlier this week, also worked out for the Bears, per Wilson (via Twitter).

Extra Points: Goldson, Cowboys, Draft, Titans

As free agency and cap management is becoming more notable in teambuilding, Kevin Seifert of ESPN takes a closer look at six of the league’s most inflated contracts and the effects they are having on their team’s roster. He dissects the contracts of Jay Cutler, Ndamukong Suh, Joe Flacco, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Tony Romo, and how each team will likely deal with the large cap numbers going forward.

Here are some other notes from around the NFL:

  • The Buccaneers put together one of the most high profile secondaries out of nowhere before the 2013 season, signing Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson and drafting Mark Barron at the top of the first round. Not long after, Revis was released and Barron was traded, leaving only Goldson on the roster, and he may be the next to go, writes Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. Goldson has played less as the season goes on, and with large money attached to his contract, the team may choose to go younger and cheaper at the safety position.
  • Much has been made of the Cowboys as they approach their decision on what to do with offensive stars Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray, with many pundits and fans expecting long-term extensions for both. Murray also seems like an obvious franchise tag candidate, but Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News could see the Cowboys surprising us and rewarding Murray with the long-term deal while franchising Bryant at the higher tag price.
  • Although the 2015 NFL draft order has not even been set, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay of ESPN are already working hard to evaluate both the prospects available as well as the needs of NFL teams. They look at the possibility teams like the Raiders, Jets, Buccaneers, and Titans would take a quarterback such as Marcus Mariota of Oregon or Jameis Winston of Florida State at the top of the draft, and look at other questions surrounding the draft.
  • The Titans may be in position to draft high at the top of the first round, but in no way will that be on purpose, writes Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean“It is ludicrous to me. Fans don’t understand the situation we go through as players,” said tight end Delanie Walker. “No one wants to lose games for better picks. It just doesn’t happen. It would never happen. Just the thought is ludicrous.”

Minor Moves: Friday

Since Fridays are relatively quiet days for in-season NFL transactions, we’ll round up today’s minor 53-man roster changes and practice squad signings and cuts in the same space. Here’s the latest:

  • After having lost Josh Mauro to the Cardinals, the Steelers filled their newly-opened practice squad spot by re-adding defensive lineman Ethan Hemer to their practice squad, tweets Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Hemer returns to the unit after having been cut earlier this month.
  • Linebacker Jeremy Grable, who was just added to the Buccaneers‘ practice squad on Wednesday, has been placed on the squad’s IR list, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com, who adds (via Twitter) that punter Jacob Schum has replaced Grable.

Audition Notes: Thursday

The latest workouts from around the National Football League..

  • The Buccaneers worked out a trio of punters (via Aaron Wilson on Twitter): Chase Tenpenny, Jacob Schum and Tom Hornsey.

Earlier updates:

  • The Patriots auditioned running back Dion Lewis, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (on Twitter). Lewis worked out for the Giants late last month during their bye week.
  • Before signing D.J. Smith to the taxi squad, the Browns also worked out linebacker Dan Fox, according to Wilson (on Twitter).