Jamel Dean

Buccaneers Cut Vernon Hargreaves

The Buccaneers have cut cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Tampa Bay selected Hargreaves in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2016 draft and exercised the fifth-year option of his rookie deal back in May, which would have kept the Florida product under club control through 2020.

However, the fifth-year option would have come with a $9.9MM salary and was guaranteed for injury only, so Hargreaves will not have any impact on the Bucs’ cap in 2020. This move comes on the heels of Hargreaves being benched in the second half of Sunday’s victory over the Cardinals for not hustling, and may have been done to send a message to the rest of the locker room. As Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes, Hargreaves planned to speak with head coach Bruce Arians to discuss the benching and expressed confidence that he and Arians could resolve any issues they might have, but the fact that his lack of hustle was not an isolated incident could have contributed to his ouster. Laine reminds us that Arians sat Hargreaves on the first day of OTAs because he was “not mentally ready to practice.”

The Bucs’ decision is particularly telling given that they have the worst pass defense in the NFL and now have just three healthy corners on the roster. As Greg Auman of The Athletic notes, Tampa will turn to rookies Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting as its starters (Twitter link). Auman tweets that, given the youth and injuries along the CB depth chart, the club is likely to add a corner from outside the organization to replace Hargreaves.

Hargreaves rarely lived up to his first-round billing during his tenure with the Bucs, struggling both outside the numbers and in the slot. However, given his youth and upside, he will surely garner interest from other clubs in need of secondary help. Now that we are past the trade deadline, Hargreaves is subject to waivers, and while he is due just $980K for the remainder of the 2019 season, a team that claims Hargreaves off waivers would also be putting itself on the hook for the 2020 option year. As such, teams may wait for Hargreaves to clear waivers and then attempt to sign him as a free agent.

GM Jason Licht issued the following statement on the transaction (Twitter links to Auman):

“After thoughtful consideration over the past few weeks, Coach Arians and I came to the conclusion that we needed to make this change. Decisions such as this are always difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to part ways with Vernon at this time and allow him to explore other opportunities. We are disappointed that it did not work out here for Vernon, and we wish him continued success moving forward.”

Hargreaves, a collegiate standout with the Gators, ends his Bucs tenure with two interceptions — including one pick-six — 19 passes defensed, and 164 total tackles in 35 games (33 starts). Injuries limited him to just 10 games between the 2017-18 seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Sign Third-Round CB Jamel Dean

With rookies set to report to training camp in two weeks, the Buccaneers have almost finished signing their entire draft class. Today, the organization announced that they’ve signed third-round cornerback Jamel Dean to his rookie contract.

Dean struggled through knee injuries early in his collegiate career, but the defensive back improved his draft stock over the past two seasons. In 26 games at Auburn, Dean compiled 73 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, a pair of interceptions and 17 passes defended. The cornerback’s measurables (six-foot-one, 206 pounds) already impressed scouts, but he stole the show at the NFL Scouting Combine after running the best 40-yard dash time among cornerback prospects.

The Buccaneers’ secondary struggled in 2018, meaning Dean should have an opportunity at a role heading into next season. Vernon Hargreaves and Carlton Davis are projected to start on the outside, while Ryan Smith or M.J. Stewart will have first dibs at the nickel spot. However, Dean will have a chance to compete with second-round rookie Sean Murphy-Bunting for backup reps.

Following today’s signing, first-round linebacker Devin White is the only Buccaneers rookie left unsigned. The Buccaneers’ entire draft haul is listed below:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Allen, Sweat, Lawrence, Oliver

Lions general manager Bob Quinn is a Bill Belichick disciple, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he’s open to trading down from No. 8 in the first round of the 2019 draft. “I always like draft picks, so if we could move back a little bit, a couple spots, and pick up another pick, I think this is a really good, the depth of this draft from the late first to the third, there’s a lot of really good players in there,” Quinn told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). “If I could ever move back a few spots, get a really good player in the first round and add another pick, I think that’s something that would be great. People out there listening, I’m open for business.” Detroit owns nine total picks but possesses only the 15th-most overall draft capital.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen is a busy man. In addition to planned visits with the 49ers, Jets, Raiders, Giants and Lions, Allen will also meet with the Bengals, Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Bills, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Allen spent four years with the Wildcats, totaling 31.5 sacks in the process (17 of which came during his senior season). Viewed as the 2019 draft’s second-best pass rusher behind Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Allen has been popularly mocked to New York at No. 3 and Oakland at No. 4.
  • The Buccaneers are looking for help along their defensive line while holding the No. 5 overall selection in this month’s draft, and they’ve met with several top-end prospects this week. Mississippi State pass rusher Montez Sweat met with Tampa on Monday, while defensive tackles Ed Oliver (Houston) and Dexter Lawrence (Clemson) are sitting down with the Bucs today, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). Sweat and Oliver are in legitimate consideration to come off the board at No. 5, while Lawrence could be in play for Tampa Bay’s second-round pick (although he’d be a curious fit given the Buccaneers drafted fellow nose tackle Vita Vea 12th overall in 2018). Auburn cornerback prospect Jamel Dean also visited with Tampa Bay this week, per Rapoport.
  • Sweat also met with the Jaguars this week, adds Rapoport, as did Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, reports Schefter (Twitter link). Both players could be available for Jacksonville at No. 7 in the first round, although Taylor would probably fill more of a need area. The Jaguars released starting right tackle Jermey Parnell earlier this offseason, so Taylor could immediately step opposite blindside protector Cam Robinson.
  • Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson recently met with both the Lions and Dolphins, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Teams are interested in Jackson primarily due to his “rare physical traits,” per Pelissero, and the three-year starter certainly offers intriguing size at 6’7″, 245 pounds. Detroit could be searching for a developmental passer to play behind Matthew Stafford, while Miami simply needs warm bodies under center.