Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Draft Notes: Strong, Peters, Beasley, Fowler

Teams are in full swing in preparing for the 2015 NFL Draft, meeting with prospects and hosting workouts to fill out final draft boards. Here we will keep up with which prospects are garnering interest in a jam-packed notes post, with any updates added to the top:

  • Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweets that Louisville tackle Jamon Brown will visit the Broncos, Lions, and Washington, and has private workouts scheduled with the Bengals and Bills.
  • Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Rams have visited with LSU tackle La’el Collins and Louisville WR DeVante Parker (Twitter links). In a separate piece, Thomas offers a little more detail on Parker and provides a complete list of all the pre-draft visits that the Rams have hosted.
  • Kevin White visited with the Giants today, tweets Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. Raanan adds that the team is doing its due diligence just in case the wideout should fall to New York, which holds the No. 9 overall pick.

Earlier Updates

  • Jaelen Strong definitely has a wrist injury, but he contradicts the report that he will need surgery, according to Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com (via Twitter).
  • In addition to Strong, Todd Gurley, Cedric Ogbuehi, and Tevin Coleman will be having Combine rechecks this weekend, writes Rapoport (via Twitter).
  • The Seahawks will meet with University of Louisiana at Lafayette defensive tackle Christian Ringo, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). The team will also host Michigan defensive end Frank Clark (via Twitter). Clark had recently visited the Saints in New Orleans.
  • In addition to Kendricks, the Falcons will work out UCLA defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, according to Chase Goodread of NFL.com (via Twitter).
  • Western Oregon wide receiver Tyrell Williams will visit the Chargers on Monday, reports Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). The Division II star has already met with the Patriots, Lions, and Cardinals.
  • Minnesota defensive tackle Cam Botticelli has a number of team’s interested in his services, writes Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). The Texans, Eagles, Lions, Seahawks, and Buccaneers have looked into him.
  • University of Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux worked out for the Bengals at their local prospect day, according to the Associated Press in USA Today. Legaux will also have the opportunity to work out for the Saints later this week.
  • The Saints will also host Tulane running back Dante Butler at their local prospect day on Friday, reports Tammy Nunez of NOLA.com.
  • Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong has a fractured bone in his wrist, which should require surgery, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). He will be among players that will get combine rechecks this weekend, and the injury could affect his draft stock (via Twitter).
  • Potential first-round cornerback Marcus Peters met with the 49ers yesterday and the Falcons today, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). Peters will visit with the Raiders tomorrow.
  • Pass rusher Vic Beasley has met or will meet with at least six teams drafting in the top ten, writes Rapoport (via Twitter). He will meet with the Titans today, and visit the Jets and Washington sometime next week.
  • Florida pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. will visit with Washington as well, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post. The visit might be for naught, as most believe Fowler is going to land in Jacksonville on draft day. The Jaguars select third overall.
  • Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat visited with the Broncos, who are need of help along the offensive line after losing Orlando Franklin in free agency, writes Mike Klis of the Denver Post. Peat might not last that long, but could provide immediate impact for a team trying to return to the Super Bowl.
  • Cardinals running backs coach Stump Mitchell attended Tevin Coleman’s workout at Indiana, writes Josh Weinfuss of ESPN (via Twitter). The Lions already had Coleman in for a workout earlier in the process, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Tony Paulie of DraftInsider.net adds that the Cowboys and Patriots have expressed interest in the Indiana tailback (via Twitter).
  • The Rams have scheduled a workout with Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty in Waco, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com (via Twitter). Brandt notes the team has indicated that it will select a quarterback at some point in the draft.
  • The Lions also hosted Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett for a visit, the sixth receiver the team has brought in according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com.
  • The 49ers have expressed interest in a number of LSU players, including linebacker Kwon Alexander, running back Terrence Magee, and cornerback Jalen Collins, writes Eric Branch of SFGate.com.
  • Ohio State speedster Devin Smith told SiruiusXM NFL Radio he had a visit with the 49ers, saying he got a “really good vibe from the coaches and staff,” and that the visit “went really well,” (via Twitter).
  • UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks met with Saints’ assistant coaches Joe Vitt and Rob Ryan during his visit with the team earlier this week, writes Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com.
  • Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks worked out for the Bengals at their local prospect day, and could be a player the team keeps an eye on in the middle rounds of the draft, writes Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com.
  • Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. has visited with the Patriots, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1 (via Twitter). Edwards will visit with the Texans and Seahawks as well, although Garafolo believes Seattle will need to trade up from No. 63 to draft him.
  • Old Dominion basketball player Richard Ross has drawn interest from NFL teams who believe he could be next in line of basketball players making the transition to tight end. The Vikings are among the teams interested in Ross, sending tight ends coach Kevin Stefanski to the school for a private workout, writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
  • The Browns have conducted a private workout for quarterback Garrett Grayson at Colorado State, a source tells Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Assuming they don’t trade up in the draft, the Browns figure to miss out on at least the top two QBs in this draft class, meaning a player like Grayson probably represents a more realistic target.
  • Washington State wide receiver Vince Mayle has visited the 49ers, Chargers, Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Seahawks, and Washington, and is on his way to visit the Colts today, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter links).
  • South Florida cornerback Chris Dunkley has visits lined up with a number of NFL teams, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Dunkley says by the end of the process he will have met with the 49ers, Chargers, Falcons, Dolphins, Patriots, Bills, Lions, and Ravens.
  • Coastal Carolina interior offensive lineman Chad Hamilton will work out privately for the Falcons on Thursday, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Hamilton previously had a private workout for the Texans.
  • Wilson also reported that Western Kentucky tight end Mitchell Henry met with the Chargers for a private workout. Mitchell will meet with an NFC team this week. Additionally, Wilson reports that Marshall cornerback Darryl Roberts has had workouts for the Colts, Eagles, Chiefs, 49ers, and Packers.
  • University of Washington pass rusher Andrew Hudson met with the Browns, Buccaneers, and Washington this week, as part of his pre-draft visits, writes Brett Tessler of Tessler Sports (via Twitter).
  • Utah guard Junior Salt, BYU wide receiver Jordan Leslie, and San Diego State University linebacker Derek Largent are among the players the Dolphins are targeting as late-round picks or priority free agents, reports Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (via Twitter).

Rob DiRe and Rory Parks contributed to this post.

Bucs To Acquire George Johnson Via Trade

1:25pm: The Buccaneers will send the Lions a fifth-round pick in exchange for Johnson’s services, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com. The Buccaneers will also receive a seventh-round pick from the Lions as part of the trade.

7:50am: More than a week after he first sign an offer sheet with the Buccaneers, defensive end George Johnson is finally officially heading to Tampa Bay, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Stroud reports (via Twitter) that the Lions and Bucs have agreed to a trade that will allow the Bucs to land Johnson, with the two clubs swapping late-round picks.

While it’s not clear yet exactly which picks are involved in the swap, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets that the deal is “done,” pending league and union approval. The CBA allows for a player who is signed for an offer sheet to be traded, though a certain procedure must be followed in that instance — presumably, the Lions and Bucs have followed that procedure here.

The offer sheet Johnson signed with the Bucs initially was worth a total of $9MM over three years, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the defensive lineman will still receive that amount. Restricted free agency gives teams five days to match an offer sheet, but before the Lions’ deadline rolled around on Monday, Detroit disputed the offer sheet, seeking a clarification on exactly what terms must be matched, since the contract included de-escalators for years two and three. Working out a trade agreement allows the two sides to avoid having an arbitrator make a ruling on the issue.

An undrafted free agent in 2011, Johnson originally signed multiple contracts early in his career with the Buccaneers, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the club. The 27-year-old was quietly effective in 2014, appearing in all 16 games for the Lions and earning a positive grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), largely thanks to his excellent pass-rushing acumen.

In Tampa Bay, Johnson figures to slot in at one of the defensive end spots along the team’s defensive line, essentially replacing Michael Johnson, who was released.

Draft Notes: Titans, Fowler, QBs, Darby

Clemson edge rusher Vic Beasley and Alabama wideout Amari Cooper, two probable top-10 picks, are making visits to Tennessee today to meet with the Titans, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (Twitter links). I don’t expect either player to go as high as No. 2 overall, but there’s certainly no guarantee that the Titans will keep that pick, so it makes sense that they’re exploring their options. As Wyatt notes (via Twitter), the club is taking a look at several top pass rushers, having also hosted Shane Ray and Dante Fowler Jr. on previously-reported visits.

Here are a few more draft updates from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of Fowler, the Florida pass rusher will be in Washington today to meet with the team that holds the fifth overall pick, tweets John Keim of ESPN.com.
  • Despite recent buzz surrounding Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston is still the strong favorite to go first overall in this month’s draft, writes Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. La Canfora suggests that the No. 2 pick is still worth keeping a close eye on though, since Mariota will likely be selected in that spot — the Rams, Chargers, Eagles, and Browns are among the teams with at least some level of interest in nabbing the Oregon QB, and they’d all likely have to move up to do so.
  • Armed with two first-round picks, the Browns are considering all their options, and brought in Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong for a pre-draft visit on Monday, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post adds the Panthers to the list of teams Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby has visited. Darby has also met with the Saints and Jets, and worked out for the Buccaneers.
  • The Dolphins, who figure to target linebackers at some point in this year’s draft, will host top ILB prospect Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi State this Friday, writes Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Contract Details: Johnson, Spencer, Lattimore

We learned yesterday that the Lions have disputed the Buccaneers‘ offer sheet to George Johnson, extending the process beyond yesterday’s initial decision deadline. However, it wasn’t immediately clear what Detroit’s issue with the offer sheet was.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk sheds a little light on the subject today, reporting that the Lions want to know whether they have to match all the specifics of a Bucs’ offer that includes de-escalators in the second and third years of the deal. Per Florio, the three-year, $9MM proposal could shrink to $7MM over three years if the de-escalators are applied, so depending on how an arbitrator rules, Detroit may only have to match that lower $7MM figure.

As we wait for resolution on Johnson, which should come by the end of next week, let’s break down a few more new contracts from around the NFL…

  • Anthony Spencer inked a minimum salary benefit contract with the Saints, allowing the team to carry a cap hit of just $665K, tweets Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Spencer’s one-year deal includes an $80K signing bonus to go along with a base salary of $870K.
  • Jamari Lattimore also signed a minimum salary deal with the Jets, though since he has less NFL experience than Spencer, his base salary is just $745K, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. The linebacker’s one-year contract includes a $60K signing bonus and a $20K roster bonus.
  • Wilson passes along the details on one more minimum salary benefit contract, tweeting that Will Allen‘s deal with the Steelers is worth $1.05MM, including a $970K base salary and an $80K signing bonus. Like Spencer and Lattimore, Allen will count for only $665K against his team’s cap.

North Notes: Bears, Perriman, Draft, Peterson

As the Bears search for Brandon Marshall‘s replacement at receiver, they’ve brought in one of the top draft prospects at the position for a visit, meeting with UCF receiver Breshad Perriman today, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). Perriman, who posted a 4.25 40-time at his Pro Day, is fighting with Louisville’s Davante Parker to be the third receiver chosen behind Amari Cooper and Kevin White.

Let’s take a look at more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • The Steelers met with three prospects today, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter), who says the club visited with Texas A&M tight end Cameron Clear, West Virginia guard Quinton Spain, and Auburn receiver Sammie Coates.
  • Having already brought in UAB return specialist J.J. Nelson for a visit, the Lions met with another special teamer/receiver — Utah’s Kaelin Clay — today, writes Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com.
  • Though Adrian Peterson was in Minneapolis over the weekend, he did not meet with any Vikings officials, according to Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
  • Rob Housler‘s one-year, $1.76MM deal with the Browns contains $750K guaranteed, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.
  • Washington defensive end Andrew Hudson just wrapped a predraft visit with the Browns, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link), and he’ll meet with the Buccaneers next.

Lions Disputing Bucs’ Offer To George Johnson

MONDAY, 2:07pm: The Lions are disputing the terms of the Buccaneers’ offer sheet, reports Tim Twentyman of Lions.com (Twitter link). It’s not clear what Detroit is contesting, but an independent arbitrator will “identify all terms that that have to be matched” within 10 days, per Twentyman (Twitter link), who adds that the Lions will then have two days to match the offer.

WEDNESDAY, 3:38pm: The offer sheet Johnson signed with the Bucs is worth a total of $9MM over three years, a source tells Garafolo (Twitter link). It’s not clear yet whether the Lions will decide to match it.

TUESDAY, 8:13pm: The Buccaneers have signed Lions restricted free agent George Johnson to an offer sheet, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (Twitter link). While we don’t yet know the financial terms, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets that the deal is for three years. Detroit will have five days to match the offer to its defensive end.

An undrafted free agent in 2011, Johnson originally signed, coincidentally, with the Buccaneers, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the club. Tampa hosted Johnson for a visit last week, signalling their interest, and while we don’t know the terms of the Bucs’ offer, there’s a decent chance he ends up with the team. He’d slot in at one of the defensive end spots along Tampa Bay’s defensive line, essentially replacing Michael Johnson, who was released.

The Lions tendered Johnson at the lowest level, meaning that while they’ll be able to match Tampa Bay’s offer, they won’t receive any compensation if they decline to match. The 27-year-old Johnson was quietly effective last season, appearing in all 16 games and earning a positive grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), largely thanks to his excellent pass-rushing acumen.

The Lions have only a tad over $3.5MM in cap space, so it could be tough for them to match any offer sheet, no matter the size. With Haloti Ngata, Ezekiel Ansah, and Jason Jones set to count about $17.5MM against the cap in 2015, Detroit could be wary of investing any more money in its defensive line.

Johnson is the second restricted free agent to sign an offer sheet today, joining Sean Richardson of the Packers.

NFC Rumors: Bucs, Safeties, Vikings, Cowboys

With uncertainty at the back of their defense, the Buccaneers are targeting safeties in the draft, tweets Bleacher Report analyst Matt Miller. The team brought in Louisville’s Gerod Holliman for a visit today, and Arizona State’s Damarious Randall will trek to Tampa on Monday.

Both are projected to be selected in the middle rounds of the draft.

The Bucs traded both of their 2014 starting safeties in Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson and now do not have much financial allocation at that spot.

Elsewhere around the NFC on Sunday night …

  • The dearth of quality safeties available in this year’s draft could be explained by the position being a second-tier destination for premier athletes, writes Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com. Since coaches at the high school and college levels funnel the fast, rangy athletes to the perimeter playmaking positions, the back line may be the second-hardest place behind quarterback to find talent, offers Spadaro. The Eagles have been searching for stability there since All-Pro Brian Dawkins left in 2009, but Malcolm Jenkins‘ 2014 arrival helped considerably. Spadaro said Earl Wolff, recovering from microfracture surgery, will have a good shot at the unsettled strong safety job, with second-year corner Jaylen Watkins and recently signed E.J. Biggers set to receive looks there as well.
  • Minnesota running back David Cobb has drawn the interest of the local NFL team, visiting the Vikings this past week, reports Darren Wolfson of KSTP on Twitter. The Vikings will obviously be at the Golden Gophers’ pro day tomorrow, and Cobb — projected to go in the mid- to late rounds after a 1,626-yard season in 2014 — will be a key performer they’ll observe.
  • Miller does not expect Amari Cooper to be Washington‘s pick at No. 5, instead anticipating a defender heading to D.C. (Twitter link). ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper each have Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. going to Washington.
  • Cornerbacks Marcus Peterson and Kevin Johnson top the list of potential targets for the Cowboys at No. 27, according to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. Machota clearly expects defense to be the priority here, as he includes Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown, UConn workout wonder Byron Jones and UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks in his top five for the Cowboys.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Winston, Parker, Tillman

The Falcons have visited the University of Miami to get a closer look at some of the draft’s most intriguing prospects. The team will workout Phillip Dorsett, Duke Johnson, Clive Walford, Ladarius Gunter, and Ereck Flowers, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). He also writes the team will meet with Denzel Perryman, who will not be working out for the team.

The team also worked out defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo while in Coral Gables, according to Ledbetter (via Twitter).

Here are a few more notes from around the NFC South:

  • The Buccaneers are expected to take Jameis Winston with the first-overall pick, and if there were any doubts about how the fans would react, those were put to rest Thursday. Winston’s appearance on a video board during the team’s Q&A session in front of fans drew a roar of applause, the loudest of the night according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune.
  • The Saints will host Louisville receiver DeVante Parker for a pre-draft visit, according to Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com. Terrell outlines some of Parker’s strengths and weaknesses, noting that Parker will likely be drafted in the early-to-mid first round. The Saints select 13th overall, but after drafting Brandin Cooks last year, might look elsewhere early in the draft.
  • The Panthers attempted to bolster their secondary by signing cornerback Charles Tillman. Tillman’s one-year contract is worth $1.75MM, which includes a $350,000 signing bonus, $150,000 roster bonus, and $15,625 in per gamer roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Wilson adds that the Tillman deal is expected to include incentives to increase the total value (via Twitter).

NFC Mailbags: Rams, Saints, Packers, Bucs

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

  • If the Rams were to select a quarterback in the upcoming draft, Nick Wagoner would expect either Austin Davis or Case Keenum to not make the roster.
  • When focusing on Washington‘s positions of need in the draft, John Keim points to an edge rusher, defensive lineman, receiver or quarterback. Meanwhile, he eliminates a running back, tight end and inside linebacker from consideration for the team’s first-round pick.
  • Despite the Saints signing veterans Brandon Browner and Kyle Wilson, Mike Triplett says the team shouldn’t hesitate to select top cornerback prospect Trae Waynes if the Michigan State product is available.
  • Rob Demovsky believes it’s a 50-50 chance the Packers will match the Raiders‘ offer sheet to safety Sean Richardson. The $2.55MM could ultimately prove to be too pricey to retain the backup safety.
  • The Panthers should begin exploring an extension for cornerback Josh Norman, according to David Newton. “Big corners with that type of ability — and attitude — are rare and don’t come cheaply,” the writer explained.
  • Pat Yasinskas writes that the best value the Buccaneers could get for quarterback Mike Glennon is a third-round pick, but he clarifies that a fourth or fifth-rounder is much more realistic.

Draft Notes: Parker, Holliman, Roberts, Bucs

Let’s take a look at the latest regarding a handful of prospects as the 2015 NFL Draft draws nearer:

  • Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker has pre-draft visits lined up with the Patriots, Ravens, Jets, Saints, Rams, Titans, 49ers and Panthers, according to Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko (Twitter link). In a mock draft posted earlier today, our own Rob Dire has the highly touted Parker going 11th overall to the Vikings.
  • Safety Gerod Holliman, Parker’s teammate at Louisville, tweeted that his workout with the Dolphins was a “success.”
  • Marshall cornerback Darryl Roberts visited the Chiefs this week, writes Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post and Baltimore Sun. Roberts previously had private workouts with the 49ers and Packers.
  • Stony Brook receiver Adrian Coxson is scheduled to visit the Packers, reports Wilson (via Twitter).
  • The Buccaneers are expected to take a quarterback – either Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota – with the first overall pick, but Wilson tweets that a a lesser-known QB, West Georgia’s Austin Trainor, impressed the team at its local prospect day. Trainor was the only signal caller in attendance.
  • In other Bucs news, South Florida kicker Marvin Kloss had a “strong workout” for the team Friday, per Wilson. Kloss hit 9 of 10 field goals, including a 55-yarder, and three of his four kickoffs went for touchbacks.