Ali Marpet

Bucs Notes: Brown, David, Mickens

Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown caught three passes for 31 yards in his Tampa Bay debut last week, a shocking 38-3 defeat to the Saints. And while he tries to focus on returning to form on the field, his ongoing civil case continues to evolve. Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Britney Taylor, who has sued Brown for sexual assault and rape, has filed a motion seeking to amend her complaint to include a claim for punitive damages (Twitter link).

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details, Taylor filed a three-page affidavit along with the motion reiterating her allegations. She avers that in June 2017, Brown masturbated in her presence and ejaculated on her back without her knowledge or consent, and that he raped her less than a year later.

The trial is presently set for December, but it is likely that it will be postponed, which means that Brown will be available for Tampa Bay through the end of the season and into the playoffs. However, the league has consistently maintained that it will suspend Brown again for any evidence that comes to light as a result of the litigation, and if a jury ultimately finds that Brown committed the offenses that Taylor alleges, the NFL will almost certainly levy additional punishment. But by that time, the Bucs may no longer be interested in Brown’s services.

Now for more on the Bucs:

  • Tampa’s loss to the Saints has triggered a shakeup to the team’s O-line. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was first to report (via Twitter), the club is shifting Ryan Jensen from center to left guard, while A.Q. Shipley — a longtime favorite of HC Bruce Arians — will get the nod at center. As James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets, there was significant miscommunication last week between LT Donovan Smith and LG Joe Haeg, which led to the change. Regular LG Ali Marpet is still sidelined with a concussion.
  • The Bucs were said to be exploring an extension for LB Lavonte David this summer, and the last we heard, the two sides had not made much progress. Greg Auman of The Athletic says both player and team still want to continue their relationship, but with a number of players eligible for free agency this offseason, Tampa cannot just write a blank check (Twitter link).
  • Return specialist Jaydon Mickens was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday, but it sounds like he was in contact with someone who tested positive and did not test positive himself. Mickens took to Instagram to say “I ain’t hurt. Ain’t nothing wrong with me. If you don’t understand why I ain’t playing, just go look it up. It’s some bulls—. But look, we’re about to go ahead and win this game” (h/t Jenna Laine of ESPN.com on Twitter). Assuming he did not test positive, Mickens could be back on the field next week.
  • DC Todd Bowles has drawn rave reviews for his work with the Bucs’ defense, and for good reason. His unit ranked sixth in defensive efficiency in 2019 and is currently the top defense in the league in that metric for 2020, despite last week’s blowout loss. Although Bowles was ousted as the Jets’ HC following the 2018 season, league-wide respect for his abilities did not diminish, and as Dan Pompei of The Athletic writes, there were eight teams interested in his services before he joined the Bucs. If his defenses continue performing at a high level, he could get another crack as a head coach in the near future.

Buccaneers Restructure Ali Marpet’s Deal

The Buccaneers and offensive lineman Ali Marpet have agreed to restructured deal, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Now, after converting a portion of his salary into a signing bonus, the Bucs will have an extra $4.125MM to work with this year.

Marpet inked a five-year add-on with Tampa Bay in 2018. The deal — worth $55MM in total with $27.125MM in guarantees — secured one of the league’s most reliable protectors through 2023.

Marpet has been a full-time starter along the Buccaneers’ offensive line ever since being selected in the second round of the 2015 draft. A right guard during his first two years in the league, he started seeing time at center, left guard, and tackle starting in 2017. He’s repeatedly made Pro Football Focus’ Top 10 positional rankings and he’s on track to do it again in 2020. Through six games, PFF has him ranked third in the NFL.

Still only 27, Marpet’s skillset and versatility makes him one of the league’s most valuable blockers. Eventually, the Bucs will have to address his contract to put him in line with the ever-ballooning market. For now, Marpet is under contract through ’23 with $10-11MM cap figures in each season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Falcons, Giants, Eagles, Bucs

The 1-4 Falcons could face the Buccaneers without running back Devonta Freeman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Freeman, who missed three games with an MCL sprain, is actually dealing with a new injury, as Rapoport indicates it’s a bone bruise that’s threatening to keep Freeman out of Sunday’s action. While Freeman didn’t practice today, he did work on the side, although his status for Week 6 is “in doubt, per Rapoport. Without Freeman, Atlanta would deploy a Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith combination that was used in Weeks 2-5.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of injury news, the Giants have already ruled out tight end Evan Engram for Thursday night’s game against the Eagles, meaning Rhett Ellison, who has shouldered the load since Week 3, will take over at tight end once again. Edge rusher Oliver Vernon, who’s missed the entire season to this point with an ankle issue, will make his 2018 debut. On the other side of the field, the Eagles have listed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Corey Graham, and running back Darren Sproles as out. The latter two are especially concerning, as Philadelphia recent placed defensive back Rodney McLeod and running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve.
  • Although Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he’d make changes following a loss to the Jets on Sunday, defensive coordinator Joe Woods will not be relieved of his play-calling duties, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Denver gave up 512 yards of offense against New York, including a whopping 334 on the ground. Joseph, a former defensive coordinator himself, could potentially take over play-calling, but that’s not a move that will happen this week. Joseph also indicated that cornerback Bradley Roby, who was burned by Jets receiver Robby Anderson in Week 5, is still a starter “for now.” Adam Jones, who’s played on roughly a third of the Broncos’ defensive snaps thus far, could see more snaps if Roby is benched.
  • Under the terms of his five-year extension with the Buccaneers, guard Ali Marpet will earn $12.365MM through one year, $23.25MM through two years, and $33.5MM through three years, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Among left guards, Marpet’s $11MM annual average now ranks third, behind only Andrew Norwell and Kelechi Osemele, while his $27.125MM in guarantees ranks second. Marpet, who has started 44 games during his time in the NFL, has displayed exceptional versatility, as he’s played both guard spots and center in his career.
  • Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson pleaded guilty to simple possession and failure to exercise due care while driving but subsequently had a DUI charge against him dismissed, per a report from the Associated Press. Johnson’s original arrest occurred in the summer of 2017, more than a year before Denver gave him $50K in guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent. A Tennessee product, Johnson hadn’t played football in more than four years before landing with the Broncos, in part due to a rape charge of which he was later acquitted. He’s been inactive for every game in 2018.

Extra Points: Bucs, Eagles, Steelers, Bell

The Buccaneers and offensive lineman Ali Marpet agreed to a five-year extension earlier today, with the deal expected to be worth $55MM ($27.125MM guaranteed). General manager Jason Licht last said that one of the top items on the front office’s to-do list was signing the 25-year-old to a long-term deal.

One of our top priorities heading into this season was to secure our core players to long-term deals and I am thrilled to add Ali to that list,” Licht said (via The Athletic’s Greg Auman on Twitter). “In his first four seasons, Ali has developed into one of the league’s best offensive guards and we believe he will only continue to improve. His ability to play multiple positions across the line, along with his strong work ethic and overall leadership abilities, were all important factors in our decision to ensure he remains a Buccaneer for the long term.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • While previous reports had indicated that the Eagles had given “serious consideration” to a Le’Veon Bell trade, ESPN’s Adam Schefter clarified that that wasn’t actually the case. Yahoo’s Charles Robinson echos that sentiment, writing that the Eagles hadn’t been in pursuit of the Steelers running back. However, Robinson notes that Bell “is a viable option” for Philly after they lost Jay Ajayi to a season-ending injury. For the time being, the Eagles will turn to one of Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, and Darren Sproles (once he returns from injury).
  • Two more practice squad players got raises this week after other teams tried to poach them, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Jets center Nico Falah and 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley are now making $28,235 a week, well above the taxi squad minimum. Given the way they are valued by their respective teams, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either player promoted to the main roster soon.
  • The Lions expect to see offensive lineman T.J. Lang back on the field at some point this season.

Ben Levine contributed to this post.

Buccaneers Sign Ali Marpet To Extension

The Buccaneers and offensive lineman Ali Marpet have agreed to an extension, according to his representatives at Select Sports Group (on Twitter). It’s a five-year add-on that will keep him under contract through the 2023 season. Marpet’s extension is worth $55MM over the five-year period with $27.125MM in guarantees, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Marpet has been a full-time starter along the Buccaneers’ offensive line ever since being selected in the second round of the 2015 draft. A right guard during his first two years in the league, the 25-year-old Marpet transitioned in 2017, but shifted to right guard this year. Last year, Pro Football Focus graded Marpet as the NFL’s No. 6 pivot before he was placed on IR in late November. This year, PFF has him as the seventh-best guard in the NFL through five weeks.

Marpet missed three games due to injury as a rookie and five games last year, but he has been on the field for every offensive snap in 42 of the other 44 contests since his arrival in Tampa. He’s also started in all 44 of those games.

Before the new deal, the former second-round pick was scheduled to reach free agency in March. He’ll carry a tidy $1.2MM cap charge this year before getting a sizable pay bump in 2019.

Marpet’s skillset, versatility, and age would have positioned him as one of the most valuable offensive lineman in free agency next year. The Bucs were willing to pay the price in order to keep Marpet off of the open market or avoid using the pricey franchise tag to delay his free agency until 2020.

With Marpet’s deal completed, the team is expected to turn its attention to left tackle Donovan Smith, a fellow second-round pick in the 2015 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Place OL Marpet, Dotson On IR

The Buccaneers have lost two starting offensive lineman for the remainder of the season, as the club announced today that they’ve placed tackle Demar Dotson and center Ali Marpet on injured reserve. In addition to the previously announced promotions of tight end Alan Cross, defensive end Pat O’Connor, and wide receiver Bobo Wilson, Tampa Bay has also signed cornerback Deji Olatoye.Ali Marpet (vertical)

Marpet has been a full-time starter along the Buccaneers’ offensive line ever since being selected in the second round of the 2015 draft. A guard during his first two years in the league, the 24-year-old Marpet transitioned to center prior to the 2017 campaign. He’s mastered the position switch, as Pro Football Focus grades Marpet as the NFL’s No. 6 pivot. Marpet, who has one year remaining on his rookie contract, is eligible for an extension this offseason.

Dotson, too, has played nearly every offensive snap (97.1%) for Tampa this year, and he’s also been excellent (No. 4 tackle, per PFF). A former undrafted free agent, Dotson has been with the Bucs since the 2009 season but didn’t become a starter until 2012. He’s signed through 2019, although the fact that he’ll be entering his age-33 campaign next year could render him a cap casualty.

The Buccaneers will turn to replacements along its offensive line just as quarterback Jameis Winston returns from a shoulder injury. With top reserve Evan Smith in the concussion protocol, Tampa Bay will likely turn to Joe Hawley at center and Caleb Benenoch at right tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ali Marpet To Shift To Center

After spending the first two years of his career at right guard, Buccaneers offensive lineman Ali Marpet will be moving to center, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Marpet performed very well for Tampa Bay last season, grading as the 13th-best guard in the league out of 71 qualifying players, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).

Oct 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard Ali Marpet (74) during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

However, with guard J.R. Sweezy set to return after missing all of 2016 with a back injury, the Bucs are hoping Marpet’s success will continue at center. The team also has veteran centers Evan Smith and Joe Hawley on the roster, both of whom received $1MM bonuses in the offseason – and Hawley performed pretty well himself in 2016 – so it would be easy enough to simply line Sweezy up at left guard and keep Hawley and Marpet where they were last year. But the Bucs apparently have a different vision for the future of their line.

Marpet has snapped before and during practices in case he was ever called upon as an emergency center, but he never even played center in a high school or collegiate game, much less a professional one.

Nonetheless, the 2015 second-round pick out of D-III Hobart College is excited about the transition. He said, “I’m a center. It’s always been in the back pocket. I can still play guard. I know. I’ve played guard. I imagine they’re not saying ‘You’re the starter, no matter what you do.’ But they like the idea, so we’re going to try it.” He and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy believe he could be especially effective in the more confined spaces that a center is required to work in.

Tampa Bay’s line returns almost entirely intact from last season, and despite a couple of moving pieces, that consistency should be a boon to young signal-caller Jameis Winston and the offense as a whole in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Bucs, Aguayo, Winston, Jaguars

Draft evaluations are subjective and tend to vary greatly from team to team. This week, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht reminded us of that fact when he explained that he had first-round grades on three of his rookies this year, including kicker Roberto Aguayo. The Bucs thought enough of the FSU product to trade into the second round for him and apparently it’s a move that the Bucs made with confidence. Along with Aguayo, the GM feels that he snared first-round talents in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence. In 2015, Licht says he also hit it big.

We think we got four last year,” Licht told Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report, referring to quarterback Jameis Winston, left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet, and linebacker Kwon Alexander . “That’s the goal – to get multiple first-round draft picks each year. When it’s all said done, to look back and say, ‘We got multiple first-round picks in this draft’ – that was the goal.”

While you ponder Licht’s assessment of his last two drafts (and his evaluation of Aguayo), here’s more out of the South divisions:

  • New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken admits that he wasn’t a big fan of Winston prior to the 2015 draft. Today, the former Southern Miss head coach isn’t afraid to admit that he has had a change of heart. “It’s who he is, how he’s wired,” Monken said, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think that’s one thing that’s a misnomer. I think from the outside you would’ve looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He’s a competitive joker, man, he’s smart, he’s intelligent…you can win a lot of games with guys like that.”
  • Jeff Linkenbach‘s contract with the Jaguars is for one season and will pay $810K, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. The guard/tackle has 86 appearances and 36 starts on his NFL resume.
  • The Jaguars got some bad news on Thursday when they learned that first-round pick Jalen Ramsey will have to undergo surgery to fix a knee injury. Depending on the second opinion and the treatment option he goes with, Ramsey could reportedly miss 4-6 weeks or 4-6 months. If all goes well, however, he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.

Bucs Sign Second Round Pick Ali Marpet

The Buccaneers have signed second-round pick Ali Marpet, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Bay Tribune (on Twitter). With the Hobart guard in the fold, the Bucs have now signed all seven of their 2015 draft picks.

The Bucs traded up from No. 65 to get the Colts’ No. 61 pick, where they selected Marpet. The swap called for the teams to swap their fourth round picks, which meant that the Bucs moved down from No. 109 to No. 128. Buccaneers GM Jason Licht later said he traded up for Hobart guard Ali Marpet because offensive line depth in the draft was shrinking.

Tampa Bay also fortified its offensive line earlier in the second round by selecting Penn State tackle Donovan Smith with the No. 34 pick. Both Smith and Marpet are considered front-runners to start on a revamped Buccaneers’ offensive line in 2015.

Extra Points: Gregory, Texans, Bengals

Here’s a look at the latest from around the NFL as the 2015 draft continues:

  • Representatives for Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, whom the Cowboys chose 60th overall, made it clear before the draft that he’d need significant support from his NFL team, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That support is expected to include a security person and personal handler for Gregory, whose draft stock plummeted because of off-field concerns – notably marijuana use and potential mental health issues.
  • The Texans aren’t going to trade cornerback Johnathan Joseph, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The nine-year veteran is entering the final season of his contract, but McClain reports that his place on the team is safe.
  • The Bengals filled a need along their offensive line Thursday when they used their first-round pick on Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Had Ogbuehi been gone before then, the Bengals would’ve selected Oregon’s Jake Fisher, tweets ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. As luck would have it, Fisher was still available at No. 53, the Bengals’ second-rounder, so they were also able to land him.
  • Before drafting Mississippi cornerback Senqeuz Golson with the 56th pick, the Steelers attempted to move up and grab LSU’s Jalen Collins, who went 42nd to the Falcons, reports Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (via Twitter). They also liked Utah’s Eric Rowe, whom the Eagles selected at No. 47.
  • Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said he traded up for Hobart guard Ali Marpet because offensive line depth in the draft was shrinking, Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com tweeted. The Bucs selected Marpet in the second round after sending the 65th and 109th picks to the Colts for Nos. 61 and 128.
  • Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, whom the Seahawks chose with the 63rd pick, said he had a lot of pre-draft contact with the team, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Clark’s agent told him that the Seahawks “had a man crush on [Clark],” according to Condotta.