Following the trend we’ve been seeing the past couple of days, Cincinnati has joined the list of teams making the necessary roster moves for injured players. The team announced on Twitter that they are placing linebacker Joe Bachie, guard Alex Cappa, defensive end Khalid Kareem, running back Samaje Perine, and safety Brandon Wilson on the active/physically unable to perform list and offensive tackle La’el Collins on the active/non-football injury list.
This announcement likely invokes mixed reactions for Bengals’ fans. While they’ll rejoice to see the names of only two expected starters on the lists, the fact that those two names belong on the offensive line may send shivers up their spines. Cappa and Collins are parts of a major rebuild on the offensive line after the Bengals allowed a record-tying seven sacks in a Super Bowl LVI loss to the Rams. The two were brought in, alongside center Ted Karras, to hold down the right side of the offensive line opposite Jackson Carman and Jonah Williams.
Cappa’s addition to the list isn’t too much of a surprise. The former Buccaneer was sidelined in late-May with a minor core injury. Known for his toughness, Cappa, who has played with a broken arm and attempted to stay in a game with a broken leg, was expected to make a return before training camp, but his placement on the list is likely just a cautious attempt to give Cappa a bit more time to recover.
The Collins news is slightly more concerning. Collins has a reputation for missing games. During his time in Dallas, Collins appeared in 74 regular season games while missing 39. He was placed on injured reserve before the start of the 2020 NFL season with the expectation he may return, but ended up sitting out the entire year. He had a healthy 2021 season, but still missed five games due to a suspension. Not much information was presented about his NFI-status, which may cause some worry for a player who has violated the league’s policy on substance abuse in the past. Regardless of speculation, the Bengals will have plenty of time before the season starts to get the situation straightened out.
Perine is probably the next biggest name on the list. No information is available as to the reason he is physically unable to perform. Perine served last season as a pass-catching option out of the backfield and the backup running back behind former Oklahoma teammate Joe Mixon. Perine will look to do more of the same, competing with last year’s sixth-round draft pick Chris Evans for receiving back duties upon his return.
Wilson is an interesting name on this list. His career with the Bengals has primarily been on special teams with Wilson serving as the Bengals’ main kick returner last season. But, as a backup safety, Wilson could see an increased role depending on the results of conversations with starting safety Jessie Bates III. If discussions with Bates go south and lead to a hold out, Wilson is the next man up to start alongside Vonn Bell in the defensive backfield. Wilson is coming off of a torn ACL suffered in early-November of last season, so his placement on the list is not unexpected, but does add a new wrinkle in developments concerning Bates’ contract.
Bachie and Kareem are both backup defenders who saw their roles change from their first seasons in the league to their second. After appearing in every game as a rookie, Kareem didn’t make his 2021 season-debut until Week 8 and performed in a limited role that was further limited by injuries near the end of the year. Bachie went from a reserve player on the Eagles as a rookie to a backup linebacker on the Bengals in Year 2. Bachie tore his ACL in mid-December last year and is an unsurprising addition to the list as he works his way back from the knee injury.
There could always be additions to the list, as it isn’t official until Tuesday. Additionally, a player can come off of the list anytime during the preseason and can’t be on the list once they’ve practiced with the team. Any players still on the PUP list at the start of the regular season will be required to sit out a minimum of six games, but they won’t count against the roster as the team trims to 53 players.
While the Bengals have some important role players on this list, there’s little need to worry at this point in time. As long as they come off of the list before the season starts, there will be no league-restrictions on their participation.
The Bengals fell just short of their first ever Super Bowl win in their third appearance in the league’s season finale. As the final seconds ticked away, analysts’ fingers started pointing, with many of them directed at Cincinnati’s lackluster offensive line.
In their loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bengals fielded Trey Hopkins at center, Jonah Williams at left tackle, Isaiah Prince at right tackle, Hakeem Adeniji at left guard, and Quinton Spain at right guard. Hopkins and Spain are free agents, no longer on the roster. Adeniji and Prince retain their roster spots, but are no longer projected to start. Williams, perhaps the only bright spot on the line last year, will return as the blindside blocker.
The Bengals worked ferociously in the offseason to address their deficiencies on offensive line. They signed three free agent offensive lineman who are all expected to come in and start right away. Ted Karras comes to Cincinnati after starting experience at center in both New England and Miami. Alex Cappa comes to town after three strong seasons as the Buccaneers’ starter at right guard. La’el Collins is ready to bookend the line with Williams after years of starting experience at right tackle in Dallas.
With Karras at center, Collins and Williams at tackle, and Cappa at right guard, that leaves one position up for grabs. The current favorite to start at left guard is 2021 second-round draft pick Jackson Carman. Carman served mainly as a backup last year for the Bengals earning six starts on the year while playing in every game. The main concern with starting Carman is the fact that he couldn’t supplant any of the lackluster starters from last year. Perhaps with a year of NFL football under his belt now, Carman will blossom into a strong starter at left guard.
The other favorite to man the last spot on the offensive line comes from Cincinnati’s most recent draft class, according to Ben Baby of ESPN. The Bengals used one draft pick this year on an offensive player, bestowing that honor upon the 23-year-old tackle out of North Dakota State, Cordell Volson. Volson served as the Bison’s right tackle in his last college years, but had experience at all four guard and tackle positions during his time in Fargo. That versatility will certainly come in handy as many college tackles tend to move to an interior lineman position if they aren’t projected to dominate as a tackle at the next level. Volson is sure to give Carman a run for his money as the Bengals look to put the finishing touch on their full offensive line renovation.
All the players mentioned above are the favorites to contribute on the offensive line this year, but the following players will attend camp with the hopes of stealing a starting job. At center, Cincinnati also rosters Trey Hill, Lamont Gaillard, and undrafted rookie Ben Brown. At guard, the Bengals’ roster lists D’Ante Smith and undrafted rookie Desmond Noel. The only tackle on the roster that wasn’t already mentioned is undrafted rookie Devin Cochran.
The Bengals have agreed to sign Alex Cappa (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). The former Buccaneers guard scores a four-year deal, helping to solidify Cincinnati’s offensive line.
Cappa’s contract maxes out at $40MM, but Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets it is actually a four-year, $35MM pact. The ex-Bucs blocker will collect $20MM over the deal’s first two years, with $1MM in Pro Bowl incentives being the escalators that would drive the pact toward its max value.
The Bengals have long been searching for solutions on their front five. Now, they’ve got a proven veteran that can stop the interior rush and open up rushing lanes. They’ll likely continue to target offensive line help over the next few weeks, however, taking extra steps to protect quarterback Joe Burrow.
Some had speculated that Tom Brady‘s un-retirement would help sway Cappa to stay. That wasn’t the case, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to tug at the heartstrings of fellow lineman Ali Marpet. Between Cappa and Marpet — who still intends to retire at the age of 28 — the Bucs have some serious holes to fill in free agency. On the plus side, they have successfully retained center Ryan Jensen with a three-year, $39MM deal.
A third-round pick in 2018, Cappa did not miss a regular-season game during Brady’s two Tampa seasons, but he did miss Super Bowl LV after suffering a fractured ankle. Cappa rebounded to play all 19 Bucs games last season. For his career, Cappa has suited up for 52 games (46 starts) across the last four years.
The Brady effect has started already and it is strong. Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen was poised for quite the pay day on the free agent market this week, but, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Jensen has agreed to a three-year, $39MM deal returning him to Tampa Bay.
Drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Jensen was released, signed to the practice squad, and then eventually promoted to full-time starter over the first four years of his career. After one season as the starting center in Baltimore, Jensen signed a four-year, $42MM contract with the Buccaneers that made him the highest-paid center in the NFL at the time. The new deal makes Jensen the second-highest-paid center in the NFL now behind only Frank Ragnow, who averages $13.5MM per year. Jensen’s new contract has a guaranteed amount of $23MM at signing, with a potential $3.3MM of incentives.
Jensen’s efforts in Tampa Bay last year were rewarded with a Pro Bowl appearance. He didn’t have his best season according to Pro Football Focus, who graded him out as the league’s 14th-best center. But Jensen hasn’t missed a game in five straight seasons and he should be able to replace the leadership on the offensive line lost with the retirement of Ali Marpet. Who knows? The return of Jensen and quarterback Tom Brady may have some influence in bringing back right guard Alex Cappa, set to hit free agency this week, and maybe even Marpet, who retired at 28-years-old.
Regardless of what else may come in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers and Brady will be happy to see the return of their Pro Bowl center. Center-quarterback chemistry is an important dynamic on an NFL offense and, some may remember, Jensen already knows just the right techniques to keep his butt sweat-free, just the way his quarterback prefers it.
Chris Godwin‘s injury damaged the Buccaneers’ hopes of defending their Super Bowl title, and despite several months remaining on the versatile wideout’s rehab timetable, the team is not eager to see him hit the open market.
Bruce Arians said Tuesday the Bucs “really, really want [Godwin] back,” and while the team does not want to use its franchise tag on Godwin again, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that scenario is in play. This would represent a nice pay bump for Godwin, with a second tag being 120% of his 2021 salary. That would come out to just more than $19MM.
Tampa Bay has one more week to negotiate with Godwin before the tag deadline. If the Bucs opt to withhold their tag, they would have six more days of exclusive negotiating rights before the legal tampering period begins March 14. Tampa Bay authored one of the NFL’s signature roster-retention efforts last year, keeping its entire core. That required re-signing a few key players after the market opened. But Godwin was the team’s priority last year. His ACL tear did not diminish his value to the organization, even after Tom Brady‘s retirement.
“Knowing Chris and the way he works – he had a good surgery and those guys are coming back faster and faster now,” Arians said. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem at all. … Chris is so valuable to what we do.”
Godwin’s injury and Antonio Brown‘s bizarre departure left Brady without a proven inside weapon in the playoffs, helping the Rams take a three-score lead in the divisional round. Despite playing in just 14 games, Godwin still produced his second 1,000-yard season. The Bucs have Mike Evans signed to a $16.5MM-per-year extension. That deal represented a top-market price when signed in 2018, but nine wideouts have since passed it. Godwin would certainly be expected to do so as well, should the Bucs ink him to a long-term extension.
Additionally, Bucs GM Jason Licht said the team is hoping to keep offensive line starters Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa, Stroud tweets. This certainly makes sense after Ali Marpet‘s surprise retirement Sunday. Jensen resides as the top free agent center, while Cappa is among the top guards set to hit the market. Jensen previously tested free agency and signed a big-ticket Bucs accord in 2018. This would be Cappa’s first time hitting the market.
Jensen will turn 31 in May, but the ex-Raven has been one of the NFL’s most durable players, having not missed a game since the start of the 2017 season. A third-round pick in 2018, Cappa did not miss a regular-season game during Brady’s two Tampa seasons, but he did miss Super Bowl LV after suffering a fractured ankle. Cappa rebounded to play all 19 Bucs games last season. The Bucs hold just more than $11MM in cap room, but space-clearing moves will be on tap — especially if the team needs to enter free agency with another Godwin tag on its payroll.
Since 2002, the NFL’s performance-based pay system has rewarded low-salary players who exceed their expected playing time. This year, due to the pandemic, the league and the players’ union negotiated a gradual payout schedule, one that will meter out the money between now and 2024.
All in all, the league divested $8.5MM per club. This year’s top earner is Buccaneers guard Alex Cappa, a 2018 third-round pick who played every single snap for the eventual champs. Cappa will now receive an extra $622K on top of his $750K base salary for 2021. Per the union’s records, 25 other players also topped $500K, including Cardinals tackle Kelvin Beachum ($604K), Bills cornerback Taron Johnson ($579K), Rams guard Austin Corbett ($573K), Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye ($572K), Bears tackle Germain Ifedi ($571K), Steelers offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor ($568K), Vikings offensive lineman Dakota Dozier ($561K), Ravens safety DeShon Elliott ($557K) and Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead ($555K).
January 15th, 2021 at 12:02pm CST by Zachary Links
The Buccaneers have signed offensive lineman Earl Watford. He’ll take the roster spot of guard Alex Cappa, who has been placed on injured reserve with a season-ending ankle fracture.
Watford was with the Bucs throughout 2019 season, starting in four of his 15 appearances. He’s a favorite of Bruce Arians, having played in 43 games (21 starts) for him in Arizona from 2014-2017 .
The Bucs beat the Washington Football Team on Saturday, but they lose their a starting lineman when Cappa was forced out. Between the regular season and the Wild Card game, Cappa logged 17 starts for Tampa Bay this season. Cappa, in his second year as a first-stringer, helped the unit place second in sacks while aiding the offense to 30.8 points per game, good for third in the NFL.
Watford, in his eighth year, will be eligible to play against the Saints on Sunday.
“He can walk in any play four positions for us,” said Arians of Watford. “[We’ll] just get him back in a little bit of football shape; he stayed in pretty good condition. Just like [with] Ted Larsen – guys that have been in this system for a while, veteran players – when you lose a guy, you try to look for veteran players rather than young guys who might not be ready.”
Aaron Stinnie will start in Cappa’s place, but Watford will be on call if needed.
The Bucs snuck past the Washington Football Team in an unexpectedly exciting wildcard showdown last night, but they did sustain one major casualty. Head coach Bruce Arians told reporters after the game that starting right guard Alex Cappa suffered a fractured ankle, which almost certainly will rule him out for the remainder of Tampa’s playoff run.
Cappa, a product of D-II Humboldt State, has turned himself into an effective NFL O-lineman. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 18th-best guard in the league this year (out of 84 qualifiers), and when he exited last night’s game, his absence was noticeable.
Ted Larsen filled in for Cappa, though as Greg Auman of The Athletic notes, the Bucs could also turn to Aaron Stinnie or Joe Haeg for their divisional round contest against either the Saints or Rams (Twitter link). Haeg is easily the more experienced of the two, as he has appeared in 67 games (38 starts) in his pro career. Stinnie has appeared in 12 games with no starts.
As a fourth-round selection in 2018, Cappa will be eligible for an extension at the end of the year. One wonders if GM Jason Licht will consider a new contract for his small school find, or if he will make Cappa sustain his success through a platform season.