Demar Dotson

Demar Dotson Undergoes Meniscus Surgery

The Buccaneers’ starting right tackle for the past six seasons, Demar Dotson‘s run into more knee trouble. And he will not be partaking in any of the team’s offseason activities as a result.

Dotson underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). While he’ll be out for months, the Bucs’ current belief is the 32-year-old blocker will be ready in time for training camp.

This is the latest batch of knee trouble for Dotson, who saw a knee malady send him to IR in November of last year. He also missed much of the 2015 season with an MCL injury. This coming season stands to be his 10th — all with Tampa Bay. The Bucs picked up his option in March, signalling the plan will be to keep him at his current post. Dotson’s team-friendly contract (just less than $10MM remains on it) runs through the 2019 season.

Dotson enjoyed another strong season in 2017, grading as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 overall tackle. He’s missed 18 games over the past three seasons, with this stretch following a healthy run of three straight 16-game campaigns for the former UDFA.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Exercise Options For Dotson, Conte

The Buccaneers will pick up the one-year option for 2018 on the contracts for tackle Demar Dotson, safety Chris Conte, and defensive back Josh Robinson, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). 

Dotson played nearly every offensive snap (97.1%) for Tampa last year until he was placed on IR in late November. He had a tremendous year, grading out as the league’s No. 7 ranked tackle, per Pro Football Focus. A former undrafted free agent, Dotson has been with the Bucs since the 2009 season but didn’t become a starter until 2012. He has come on strong in recent years and he’s well worth the $4.6MM cap hit for Tampa Bay. The team also has him under control for 2019 when he is slated to carry a $4.85MM cap hit.

Conte played in all 16 games last year, starting 14. He didn’t set the world on fire as he was ranked No. 57 at his position by PFF, but his option also wasn’t pricey. The Bucs will pay $125K to keep him on board to go along with his $2.25MM base, giving him a total of $2.375MM for the coming year.

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.

South Notes: Jaguars, Breaux, Buccaneers

Formerly a Dolphins second-rounder given the chance to start for multiple seasons with two teams, Chad Henne is in position to reclaim the Jaguars‘ starting job after Doug Marrone‘s postgame announcement. By opening the competition, Marrone is giving it to Henne, Ryan O’Halloran of jacksonville.com notes. Regarding Henne’s competitor in this renewed competition, O’Halloran notes the Jags should be ready to cut Blake Bortles soon rather than risk an injury in a game or practice that could potentially put them on the hook for the $19MM fifth-year option come 2018. Bortles’ 2017 money ($6.571MM) is guaranteed at this point, so the Jags would carry that amount on their cap regardless of the fourth-year quarterback’s employment, but the team could afford it in carrying more than $44MM in cap space currently. This would be an even more aggressive move than the 2015 Redskins used with Robert Griffin III. Washington benched Griffin for the season and cut him after an injury-free campaign of practices.

Here’s more from Jacksonville and some other southern-headquartered franchises.

  • While O’Halloran categorizes the Jags’ decision to pick up Bortles’ option as careless, Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com argues the team should have drafted or signed competition to join Bortles and Henne. O’Halloran suggests the Jags should have drafted a quarterback, while DiRocco points to players like Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler or Nick Foles as UFA options that could have pushed Bortles.
  • The handling of Bortles and Branden Albert have not looked good for Tom Coughlin, Gene Frenette of jacksonville.com writes. Cutting Bortles now and bringing in a third passer would put that quarterback too far behind, and Frenette looks at the decision not to add an outside arm to learn Nathaniel Hackett‘s offense looks bad now that Bortles could be on the way to a demotion or out of Jacksonville.
  • Delvin Breaux underwent successful surgery to repair a broken fibula that was initially misdiagnosed, Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate reports. The Saints cornerback went to Green Bay for the surgery — one that removed the old plate in the his leg and replaced it with a longer one. Sean Payton tentatively put the timetable at six weeks, which Erickson estimates will shelve the third-year corner for four games and place him on course to return after New Orleans’ Week 5 bye. “He’ll be back in New Orleans, and when we get back, we’ll have a chance to sit down,” Payton said. “I don’t want to call him up over the phone; I know it went well.”
  • Demar Dotson will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, and Dirk Koetter said (via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com) Caleb Benenoch and Kevin Pamphile would be the next men up. Both are fifth-round picks, Pamphile in 2014, Benenoch in ’16. Koetter added he’s more content with the Bucs’ guard depth than he is at tackle presently.

South Notes: Saints, Moore, Dotson, Kuhn

Given that the Saints first-round rookie Sheldon Rankins will be out for six-to-eight weeks after suffering a broken fibula, New Orleans could look to the free agent market to augment a defensive line interior that currently includes John Jenkins, Nick Fairley, C.J. Wilson, and Tyeler Davison. One potential replacement — Tony McDaniel — came off the board this weekend when he signed a deal with the Seahawks, but Cullen Jenkins, Henry Melton, C.J. Mosley, and Sammie Lee Hill are among the veteran options that could be on the Saints’ radar, as Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com suggests. One other candidate, from my vantage point, might be former Brown Randy Starks, whom Pro Football Focus assigned the highest grade among unsigned interior defenders.

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

  • Colts linebacker Sio Moore has a “pretty significant” hamstring injury, according to head coach Chuck Pagano, the fourth-year pro figures to be sidelined for a meaningful amount of time, writes Kevin Bowen of Colts.com. As such, D’Qwell Jackson and Nate Irving will probably serve as Indy’s starting inside linebackers in the club’s 3-4 scheme. As Roster Resource shows, the Colts have several other options on their depth chart, including Josh McNary, Antonio Morrison, and Junior Sylvestre.
  • As part of his three-year extension, Buccaneers right tackle Demar Dotson scored $4.25MM in full guarantees, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Another $4.25MM, presumably guaranteed for injury only, becomes fully guaranteed on March 13 of 2017. Dotson’s new pact has a total value of $16.5MM, and will keep the 30-year-old in Tampa through 2019.
  • Titans offensive lineman Josue Matias will require season-ending knee surgery and will be placed on injured reserve, head coach Mike Mularkey told reporters (link via the Associated Press). Matias, a 2015 undrafted free agent who spent last year on Tennessee’s practice squad, is facing a six-month recovery.
  • John Kuhn‘s one-year deal with the Saints is worth $985K with no signing bonus, Nick Underhill of the Advocate tweets. As such, the veteran fullback is eligible for the minimum salary benefit, meaning he’ll only count for $600K on New Orleans’ cap.

Buccaneers Sign Demar Dotson To Extension

The Buccaneers have signed offensive tackle Demar Dotson to a three-year deal, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The pact is worth $16.5MM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The new deal will give the 30-year-old some security, keeping him under contract through 2019. The Bucs have confirmed the deal via press release. Demar Dotson (vertical)

Dotson, 31 in October, joined the Bucs as a UDFA out of Souther Mississippi in 2009. Eventually, Dotson found his way into the Bucs’ starting lineup, becoming their primary right tackle in 2012. Dotson appeared in every regular season game for them from 2012-2014 but injuries limited him to six games last year. Prior to this deal, Dotson was scheduled to hit the open market after earning $1.75MM in the 2016 season.

In other Bucs news, defensive end George Johnson has been ruled out for the season after suffering a hip fracture. Also, despite trade rumors surrounding backup quarterback Mike Glennon, the Buccaneers are reportedly not shopping him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/9/15

Today’s minor signings, cuts, and other moves from around the NFL:

  • The Buccaneers activated Demar Dotson from IR-DTR, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. He’ll be taking the place of cornerback Tim Jennings, who has been waived, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • The Lions were awarded defensive end C.J. Wilson off waivers from Raiders, as Wilson tweets. He’ll have a place on the roster now that the Lions have placed Andre Fluellen on injured reserve, Wilson tweets.
  • The Eagles (on Twitter) announced that they have officially re-signed linebacker Emmanuel Acho.
  • The Browns waived linebacker Jayson DiManche and defensive back De’Ante Saunders, Wilson Post tweets. DiManche, 25, was signed by Cleveland off of the Chiefs’ taxi squad in October. For his career, DiManche has appeared in 29 total games, mostly with the Bengals.
  • In need of a third reserve offensive lineman for Monday night, the Chargers placed center Chris Watt (shoulder) on IR while promoting guard Craig Watts from the taxi squad, as Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego tweets. Watt, a third-round pick in 2014, has yet to really produce at the NFL level thanks to various injuries.
  • The Chiefs cut wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Wilson tweets.

Bucs Place Clinton McDonald On IR

The Buccaneers have placed defensive tackle Clinton McDonald on their injured reserve list, ending his season, the team announced today in a press release. McDonald suffered a pectoral injury last month, and won’t be able to play through it.

McDonald, who joined the Buccaneers prior to the 2014 season, has started 19 games for the team since then, recording 46 tackles and five sacks last year. In just six games this year, the 28-year-old had racked up 31 tackles for Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers now have an opening on their 53-man roster which figures to be filled within the next 24 hours. As Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times observes (via Twitter), that open spot could be taken by tackle Demar Dotson, who is eligible to come off IR-DTR this week.

Update On IR-DTR Players

We’re now through eight weeks of the NFL season, which means we’re approaching the year’s halfway point. It also means that players who were placed on the injured reserve list with the designation to return prior to the regular season are eligible to be activated and play in their respective teams’ next games.

Players placed on IR with the designation to return are eligible to begin practicing after six weeks, and can return to game action after eight weeks, so there are some IR-DTR players who have begun practicing already, and some of them could be activated for Week 9. Not every player will be healthy enough to return immediately now that they’ve become eligible to do so, but we should see at least a handful of the 10 players who have been on IR-DTR all year be activated to 53-man rosters in the coming days.

Here’s a breakdown of the 10 IR-DTR players eligible to be activated for Week 9:

  • Jay Ajayi, RB (Dolphins): Ajayi recently said that he’s back to full health, though the Dolphins may have a decision to make in their backfield if they decide to activate the rookie runner.
  • Alex Carter, CB (Lions): Carter is on track to begin practicing after the Lions’ Week 9 bye, and likely won’t be activated right away.
  • David Cobb, RB (Titans): Cobb is expected to be activated this week, and at least one Titans beat reporter believes the rookie is capable of earning a high percentage of the team’s carries.
  • Demar Dotson, T (Buccaneers): When he began practicing, Dotson admitted his injured knee wasn’t where he wanted it to be, but it sounds like he’s made enough progress to be activated this week.
  • Charles Gaines, CB (Browns): Gaines returned to practice when he was eligible to do so, and sounds like he’s eager to get back on Cleveland’s roster. If the Browns want him active for Week 9, they’ll have to make a move soon, since the team plays on Thursday this week.
  • Dee Milliner, CB (Jets): Head coach Todd Bowles said last week that he believes Milliner will be ready to play as soon as he becomes eligible, though he cautioned that the team will need to find room on the active roster.
  • Maurkice Pouncey, C (Steelers): There has been some speculation that Pouncey could be sidelined for the entire season, but head coach Mike Tomlin still expects his veteran center back this year. That likely won’t happen for a few more weeks though, since the initial diagnosis put Pouncey on track to be out until at least Week 12.
  • Bryan Stork, C (Patriots): The Patriots’ offensive line has been hit hard by injuries this season, so having to decide between Stork and David Andrews at center will be a welcome problem for the team. Stork appears on track to return in Week 9.
  • John Sullivan, C (Vikings): After suffering a setback and undergoing another surgical procedure, Sullivan won’t be back anytime soon, and may not play at all this season.
  • Brent Urban, DE (Ravens): Asked two weeks ago about Urban, head coach John Harbaugh said that the defensive end wasn’t practicing, adding that his recovery would probably take “a few more weeks.”

While these 10 players are the only ones on IR-DTR eligible to return in Week 9, there are 12 more who will gain eligibility in the coming weeks. The full list can be found right here.

Among those 12 other IR-DTR players, the most notable name is Tony Romo, who can’t play until Week 11. The Cowboys quarterback is eligible to begin practicing this week, but Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link) hears that won’t happen quite yet. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Romo is still on track to return to the field when he’s eligible for game action, but it makes sense to keep getting Matt Cassel first-team practice reps in the meantime.

NFC Notes: Kilgore, Carroll, Thompson, Fells

49ers center Daniel Kilgore suffered a broken left leg in a loss against the Broncos one year ago, but his 2015 debut doesn’t appear to be imminent, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. When asked if he could sit out the 2015 season, Kilgore didn’t rule out that scenario.

“I wouldn’t suspect that, but there’s always that possibility,” Kilgore said. “A year ago, I wouldn’t have said I would be in this situation. So you always have that possibility.”

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the NFC….

  • Joining a chorus of NFL head coaches who have had to shoot down college rumors in recent weeks, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that a return to USC is “not happening,” as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes.
  • Good news for the Panthers: Shaq Thompson appeared to suffer a serious injury on Sunday, but a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) that it turned out to only be a sprained MCL for the rookie linebacker.
  • Cardinals tight end Darren Fells may miss two or three weeks with a sprained shoulder, a source tells ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss (on Twitter). Fells had an MRI on Monday morning to better assess the damage.
  • As we detailed yesterday, the Buccaneers have two players now eligible to begin practicing, and the club announced today that both Demar Dotson (IR-DTR) and Akeem Spence (PUP) will rejoin their teammates on the practice field beginning Tuesday. Tampa Bay will have a three-week window to activate the duo.
  • Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com feels that Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery is worthy of a long-term investment. Jeffery’s performance in Detroit – eight receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown – reinforced his importance to the team in the view of Dickerson, who says Chicago should not let the wideout reach the open market next spring. Dickerson doesn’t view Jeffery as an elite receiver, but he does feel that he is in the next tier, along with guys such as T.Y. Hilton, Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. I’d agree with that assessment, though Jeffery has to stay healthy in order to justify that type of money.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.