The Buccaneers promoted cornerback John Franklin and wide receiver Jaydon Mickens from the practice squad to the active roster on Tuesday. To make room, the Buccaneers waived wide receiver Ishmael Hyman and tight end Jordan Leggett.
Franklin has been playing cornerback on the Bucs’ taxi squad for the past six weeks, but he also played quarterback in college. After running the scout team offense in practice last week to mimic Deshaun Watson, it’s possible that Franklin could also see time under center in the Bucs’ season finale or at some point next year, if he sticks on the roster.
“Johnathan Franklin did an unbelievable job being Deshaun Watson last week at quarterback,” said head coach Bruce Arians. “He gave our defense a tremendous look. [He] made me think about, ‘Hmm, what do we want to do with him?’ He’s really a corner, but he’s been a quarterback and he’s been a receiver. He’s a really good athlete – it’s just finding a niche for him.”
Four new players have debuted for the Bucs over the last couple of weeks as they take a look ahead towards their 2020 plans. Franklin and Mickens have a chance to join that group. Mickens already has 16 regular season games under his belt thanks to his time with the Jaguars.
Mickens entered the league as UDFA with the Raiders in 2016 and spent his entire rookie season on Oakland’s practice squad. Since then, he’s spent time with the Jaguars (taxi squad and active roster) and had a stay on the Panthers’ training camp roster over the summer. In 16 games for the Jags, he recorded six receptions for 77 yards and two touchdowns. He also averaged 8.9 yards on 39 punt returns and 21.1 yards on eight kickoff returns.
The Bucs will wrap up the 2019 season against the Falcons on Sunday.
Here is the latest from the workout circuit:
- WR Quincy Adeboyejo, WR Reggie Davis, WR J.J. Jones, WR Darvin Kidsy, WR J’Mon Moore (Twitter link via Wilson)
- C Russell Bodine, OL Tyler Gauthier, DL Joel Heath, DL Frank Herron, DL Zach Kerr, DL Mike Pennel (Twitter link via Wilson)
- S Kentrell Brice, S Deiondre’ Hall, S A.J. Hendy, S Shalom Luani, DB Lafayette Pitts (per Wilson, on Twitter)
New York Jets
- OL Brandon Hitner (via Wilson, on Twitter)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QB Taryn Christion, RB Quinton Flowers, DB John Franklin, WR Ishmael Hyman, WR Marcus Johnson, WR Codey McElroy, WR Jaydon Mickens, QB Phillip Walker (via Balzer, on Twitter)
The Panthers have officially set their 53-man roster, and there are few major surprises on the list. One of the most notable names is running back Cameron Artis-Payne, who spent the past four years in Carolina. The team also moved on from fellow offensive veteran Aldrick Robinson, who finished last season with five touchdown receptions for the Vikings.
The rest of the Panthers’ roster moves are below:
- RB Cameron Artis-Payne
- QB Taylor Heinicke (full story)
- CB Lorenzo Doss
- WR Aldrick Robinson
- LS Andrew DePaola
- S Corrion Ballard
- LB Brandon Bell
- S Quin Blanding
- G Tyler Catalina
- C Parker Collins
- G Rishard Cook
- DE Bryan Cox Jr.
- CB Corn Elder
- WR Terry Godwin
- DT Woodrow Hamilton
- G Taylor Hearn
- TE Temarrick Hemingway
- TE Cole Hunt
- DT Bijhon Jackson
- WR Damion Jeanpiere
- WR Andre Levrone
- S Cole Luke
- WR Jaydon Mickens
- LB Jared Norris
- CB Ryan Pulley
- WR Rashad Ross
- LB Sione Teuhema
- CB Josh Thornton
- TE Jason Vander Laan
- WR DeAndrew White
- LB Antwione Williams
- C John Yarbrough
Placed on IR:
Here are today’s minor moves, which feature a few recognizable names:
- Signed: WR/RS Jaydon Mickens, G Norman Price, DL Bijhon Jackson
- Waived: RB Elijah Hood, G Ian Silberman, DT Elijah Qualls
- Signed: QB Taryn Christion
Kansas City Chiefs
- Released: TE Neal Sterling
Los Angeles Chargers
- Signed: RB Derrick Gore
- Waived: LB Jayrone Elliott
New York Giants
- Claimed: WR Da’Mari Scott
- Released: CB Tony Lippett
- Signed: TE Isaiah Searight
- Waived: TE Eric Dungey
New York Jets
- Signed: TE Temuchin Hodges (formerly known as Bucky Hodges)
San Francisco 49ers
- Signed: DL Damontre Moore
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The big story of the day has been the drama surrounding Patriots exec Nick Caserio. The Texans announced earlier today that they’d be backing down from their pursuit of Caserio, and the Patriots in turn agreed to drop tampering charges. The Texans’ statement from owner Cal McNair indicated there was a provision in Caserio’s contract they were unaware of, and now we have some clarity. It was initially thought he would be allowed to interview since the Texans’ job is a clear promotion, but Caserio apparently has language in his contract that specifically forbids him from interviewing with any other team.
Caserio’s contract ends right after the 2020 draft, sources told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Pelissero floats the possibility that the Texans could wait until then to hire a GM and then go after Caserio, which is in line with another recent report that indicated the Texans might go without a GM for the rest of the season. In a follow-up tweet Pelissero writes that “the call between Cal McNair and Robert Kraft was very cordial,” and that after the Texans learned of the contract language they “asked what a trade would cost,” but the Patriots declined. It’s fair to question why the Texans wouldn’t be aware of such language before they made it very clear that they wanted Caserio for the job, although that’s now a question for another day. Pelissero also was told that for now “the process will continue,” so it seems like they aren’t closing the door on hiring a GM for this year quite yet. Non-Caserio candidates reportedly include former GMs Ray Farmer, Martin Mayhew, Reggie McKenzie, and Scott Pioli.
Here’s more from around the league on a quiet Friday night:
- The Texans aren’t the only team shuffling around their front office. The Packers promoted Richmond Williams to director of pro personnel and Brett Thiesen to college scout, per Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com. Williams is entering his twelfth year with the team, and originally joined Green Bay as a scouting intern all the way back in 2007. Green Bay’s power structure remains unchanged, with team president Mark Murphy and GM Brian Gutekunst still running the show.
- In addition to everybody on their 90-man roster, the Colts also had a group of tryout players at their minicamp this week, per Joel Erickson of The Athletic (Twitter link). There were a couple of notable names trying out, including former Jaguars receiver/kick returner Jaydon Mickens. Mickens, a 2016 UDFA out of Washington, showed very well as a returner in 2017, but was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury last October. The Jags elected not to tender him a contract after the season. It’s a bit surprising he hasn’t been able to resurface on anyone’s offseason roster yet.
- Star Lions cornerback Darius Slay skipped the team’s minicamp, and is apparently undecided on when his holdout will end. “Time will tell” whether he shows up to training camp next month, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Slay still has two years left on his contract, but feels grossly underpaid. He’s set to earn about $12.5MM in 2019 and $10MM in 2020, which has him outside of the top-10 among cornerbacks in average annual value. Slay has already forfeited $250K in workout bonuses this offseason, and will be fined more if he doesn’t report soon. This will be an important situation to monitor, as Slay is Detroit’s best player on defense.
With the first wave of NFL free agency largely in the books, teams have begun hosting lesser-known options that remain on the market:
- The Seahawks met with free agent defensive tackle Caraun Reid on Thursday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The 27-year-old Reid has bounced around the league, but spent most of the 2018 campaign in Dallas, compiling 10 tackles and a half-sack on 28% playtime. Seattle lost defensive tackle Shamar Stephen in free agency, meaning the club is looking for depth behind Jarran Reed and Nazair Jones.
- Wide receiver Jaydon Mickens visited with the Texans today, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Mickens is a wideout-in-name-only, as he’s garnered only six total receptions over his two-year career (all in 2017). Instead, Mickens is a core special-teamer, with a focus on punt returns. He handled 27 for Jacksonville last season, managing 10.6 yards per return with one touchdown. Houston is already one of the best return teams in the NFL, per Football Outsiders‘ metrics, and is bringing back DeAndre Carter, who split return duty last season.
- The Bills hosted linebacker Mark Nzeocha on Thursday, per Yates (Twitter link). Like Mickens, Nzeocha is primarily a special teams player, topping 60% ST playtime in each of the past two years with the 49ers. But he saw a bit of action on defense in 2018, starting three games and playing on 13% of San Francisco’s defensive snaps. He’d give Buffalo depth at linebacker.