Aaron Stinnie

NFC South Rumors: Darnold, Christensen, Bucs, Murphy-Bunting, Werner

As Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield starts to run away with the starting job, questions have been raised about the future of incumbent starter Sam Darnold. When a rumor surfaced that Carolina may be shopping the fifth-year passer, general manager Scott Fitterer pulled Darnold aside to set him at ease, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic.

“I talked to Scott,” Darnold explained. “He said not to worry about it. To be honest, before he talked to me, I didn’t even see it. So I’m just gonna continue to do me and do what I can to put myself in a good position and put this team in a good position.”

Aiding Fitterer in convincing Darnold that he’s not likely to be dealt is Darnold’s $18.86MM salary. There could certainly be a team willing to make a call about Darnold if an injury occurs to their starter, but if the Panthers wanted to offload him, they’d likely have to eat some of his contract, as well.

There’s a good chance, though, that Darnold stays put. As Person explained, “in a league that saw only 12 teams make it through the 17-game regular season in 2021 with one quarterback,” the backup quarterback is still a crucially important position. And, while Darnold may not rank highly among the starters in today’s game, he certainly ranks as one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. The backup job appears to be his, too, as long as the Panthers continue to slow play the development of rookie third-round pick Matt Corral.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC South, starting with another note out of the Tar Heel state:

  • As certain as it seems that rookie first-round pick Ikem Ekwonu will start the 2022 season as the Panthers’ starting left tackle, Carolina is still giving last year’s third-round pick, Brady Christensen, plenty of snaps at the position. According to Person, Christensen took the majority of the first-team reps this past Thursday at the position. Christensen has a highly sought after versatility that gives the Panthers the option of playing him as a guard or a tackle. With Ekwonu still expected to win the starting job, perhaps offensive line coach James Campen just wants to ensure his best backup option has enough experience at one of the offensive line’s most important positions.
  • The Buccaneers‘ interior offensive line will look completely different in 2022 after the departures of Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet, as well as an injury that may cause center Ryan Jensen to miss a significant amount of time. Trade acquisition Shaq Mason will man the right guard position, while the left guard and center positions are still up in the air, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. The center position is currently a battle between Robert Hainsey and Nick Leverett. Leverett is also competing for the left guard starting job with Aaron Stinnie and rookie second-round pick Luke Goedeke. A tweet from Bucs staff writer Scott Smith, though, may hint at one of the positions. Smith reports that assistant head coach & run game coordinator Harold Goodwin “hopes a decision (at left guard) will be made prior to the third preseason game” so that the new left guard can “build chemistry with Donovan Smith and (Hainsey).” Smith is projected to be the starting left tackle, so this comment from Goodwin may point to the fact that Hainsey has won the position battle at center.
  • We recently did a rundown of the Buccaneers’ cornerbacks room, but an update, provided by Matt Matera of the Pewter Report, may give us some new information. We claimed that Sean Murphy-Bunting was in a competition with Jamel Dean for the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Carlton Davis, but that the loser of that battle would still likely get plenty of time as the top option at nickel. According to Matera, though, Murphy-Bunting is no longer working in the slot and is solely competing with Dean for the outside job. Matera adds that Dean seems to have the inside-track which will leave Murphy-Bunting coming off the bench.
  • It appears that Saints second-year linebacker Pete Werner has taken hold of the starting weak-side linebacker position next to Demario Davis, according to Jeff Duncan of nola.com. Duncan comments that the staff’s confidence in Werner is high enough that it assisted in their decision to allow former starter Kwon Alexander to walk in free agency.

Buccaneers To Re-Sign G Aaron Stinnie

The Buccaneers saw Ali Marpet retire and have their other two longtime interior offensive line starters — Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa — on the cusp of free agency. Uncertain up front, the team retained one of its inside depth pieces Saturday.

Aaron Stinnie reached an agreement to stay with Tampa Bay, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes. A three-year Bucs backup, Stinnie is coming back on a one-year deal worth up to $2.5MM.

Entering the NFL as a UDFA out of Division I-FCS James Madison, Stinnie has only started one regular-season game in four seasons. After moving from Tennessee to Tampa in 2019, via waiver claim, Stinnie became a valuable part for the Bucs during their 2020 Super Bowl run. Cappa’s season-ending injury led to Stinnie playing the bulk of Tampa Bay’s playoff snaps opposite Marpet. Stinnie started the final three Bucs playoff games that year.

Marpet’s retirement and Cappa’s potential free agency exit make Stinnie, 28, a possible cheap alternative. He will have a chance to start in 2022, Laine adds. The Bucs want to re-sign Cappa, but the four-year starter appears poised to test the market.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/8/22

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/5/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears 

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions:  12/1/21

Today’s minor moves:

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers To Re-Sign Aaron Stinnie

Aaron Stinnie stepped up in a big way when the Buccaneers needed him most, and now he’s getting rewarded. Tampa Bay has re-signed the guard, the team announced on Wednesday.

Terms of the deal weren’t immediately available, although it’s safe to assume it wasn’t a massive payday or anything. Stinnie was set to become a restricted free agent, but rather than deal with the tendering process the team just inked him to a new deal. Few around the league were familiar with Stinnie a few months ago, but he was suddenly thrust to prominence when he began starting during the Bucs’ Super Bowl run.

Stinnie started Tampa’s final three games, including the Super Bowl, after normal starter Alex Cappa went down in the Wild Card round. Incredibly, they were the first starts of Stinnie’s NFL career, but the moment wasn’t too big for him and he performed solidly.

An UDFA in 2018 out of James Madison, Stinnie originally signed with the Titans. After a year and a half in Tennessee, he was cut and claimed off waivers by the Bucs in November of 2019. It was a really cool story during the playoffs, and it’s nice to see him get brought back.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/11/19

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Placed on IR: T Martinas Rankin
  • Signed off Colts’ practice squad: T Jackson Barton

New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Claimed off waivers from Titans: OL Aaron Stinnie
  • Waived: C Nate Trewyn

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/9/19

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

New York Giants

  • Promoted from practice squad: OL Evan Brown
  • Waived: DL Olsen Pierre

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/7/19

Here are today’s minor moves on the eve of regular season openers:

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC South

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC South teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Colts, Jaguars, Texans and Titans are noted below.

Additionally, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads today. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans