Carlton Davis

Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown To Land $26MM-$28MM AAV On New Contract?

We heard at the end of last month that the Lions and star wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown would begin working on an extension at the Scouting Combine. ESPN’s Dan Graziano confirms that contract negotiations are indeed underway (subscription required).

Per Graziano, St. Brown’s new deal could feature an average annual value of $26MM-$28MM, which would position the former fourth-rounder near the top of the WR market as it currently stands. At present, Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM AAV is tops among his peers, though that number is artificially inflated by an exorbitant ~$44MM salary in 2026 that Hill will almost certainly never see. Raiders wideout Davante Adams is next on the list with a $28MM AAV, while the Rams’ Cooper Kupp enjoys a $26.7MM AAV and also secured a WR-record $75MM in total guarantees when he signed his extension with Los Angeles in June 2022.

St. Brown, who is entering his age-25 season, clearly has an argument to be the highest-paid player at his position. The USC product has improved his production over each of his first three years in the league, and in 2023, he posted a stellar 119/1,515/10 slash line. Those totals earned him First-Team All-Pro acclaim along with the second Pro Bowl bid of his young career, and he has been one of the driving forces behind Detroit’s hugely successful rebuild.

Plus, as a non-first-round draft choice in 2021, St. Brown does not have a fifth-year option on his rookie contract, and he is therefore eligible for free agency in 2025. The Lions could of course deploy the franchise tag next offseason if they cannot work out a multiyear accord between now and then, but the tag for receivers is projected to be in the $25MM ballpark (h/t, and St. Brown’s is not the only contract that needs to be addressed. Quarterback Jared Goff is also entering the final year of his current deal and is due for a significant raise of his own, and GM Brad Holmes may also want to explore extensions for OT Penei Sewell and DT Alim McNeill.

Sewell, a 2021 first-round choice, could be retained via the fifth-year option in 2025, though McNeill was a 2021 third-rounder and will be out of contract at the end of the 2024 campaign. Nonetheless, St. Brown will clearly be a top priority, and there is seemingly no chance that Holmes will allow him to sniff the open market, even if he has to pony up an historic contract to keep him in Honolulu blue.

In order to create some salary cap breathing room, at least in the short-term, the Lions restructured the contract of recently-acquired cornerback Carlton Davis, as Jason Fitzgerald of reports. The move frees up $4.5MM of cap space in 2024, though as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News observes, that additional flexibility was created via three void years. Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 passes along the full details.

Of course, the Lions could also recoup additional spending power as a result of the unfortunate Cameron Sutton situation.

Bucs To Trade CB Carlton Davis To Lions

Mentioned as being interested in cornerback help, the Lions might not be the team that trades for L’Jarius Sneed. Detroit will, however, stay focused on the trade market to help out here.

The Lions are set to acquire Carlton Davis from the Buccaneers,’s Tom Pelissero tweets. The Buccaneers will receive a 2024 third-round pick. In addition to Davis, they’ll send Detroit a 2024 and 2025 sixth-round selection, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

One season remains on Davis’ second Bucs contract, which he agreed to during the 2022 legal tampering period. Coming up recently as a trade chip, Davis will help out a Lions team that experienced injury- and performance-related issues in coverage last year.

Davis will bring plenty of starting experience to Detroit, with the former second-round pick having started 75 of his 76 regular-season games for Tampa. The defensive back hasn’t been able to make it through a full regular-season unscathed, although he has been on the field for nine postseason games over the past four seasons.

The 27-year-old got into 12 games this past year, finishing with 52 tackles and a pair of interceptions. He also compiled another 11 stops in two postseason games. Pro Football Focus ended up ranking Davis only 68th among 127 qualifying cornerbacks, although the site has never been particularly fond of his performance (Davis peaked as the 21st cornerback in 2021).

Davis inked a three-year, $45MM deal with the Buccaneers in 2022. He’ll count for about $14.3MM against the cap in 2024 before hitting free agency next winter.

Bucs GM Jason Licht On Baker Mayfield, Other FA Plans

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht recently updated reporters, including Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, on a number of free agency-related topics. One of the key takeaways from Licht’s comments is his confirmation that the Bucs will not be active players in the market, though they will of course try to retain some of their own FAs.

The team started that process when it agreed to a new contract with star wideout Mike Evans. Crossing that item off the list may help the club re-sign quarterback Baker Mayfield, both because it allows Licht & Co. to focus their efforts almost entirely on Mayfield at this point and because keeping Evans in the fold makes Tampa Bay a more attractive destination for 2018’s No. 1 overall pick. That said, Licht was not exactly adamant that a deal would get done.

“I see a link between [Evans and Mayfield], because they like each other, they played well with each other,” Licht said. “But once again, it doesn’t make it automatic. I’m not taking anybody for granted here, so it’s a good start. It’s a good player to throw to. Who wouldn’t want to throw to [Evans]? But Baker is going to make the decision for him, for himself.”

Licht went on to say that he has contingency plans in case Mayfield does not return, one of which could feature Kyle Trask. The 2021 second-rounder has backed up both Tom Brady and Mayfield in Tampa but has thrown a grand total of 10 regular season passes in his three-year career.

“You always have to have — as [former Bucs head coach] Bruce [Arians] would say — to look behind Door 2 and 3 and 4 and 5,” Licht said. “So, yeah, we always feel like we need options. Yeah, we always have to have plans. We also like Door No. 2 that’s right here (meaning Trask).”

Sources from multiple teams have told Jeremy Fowler of (subscription required) that they expect Mayfield and the Bucs to eventually come to terms on a three- or four-year accord. However, the fact that a deal has not yet been consummated is an indication to Fowler’s colleague, Dan Graziano, that Mayfield realizes the Bucs are not the only team interested in meeting his asking price (which is believed to be $40MM or more per year). Tampa Bay may ultimately pull the trigger, but given the amount of money ownership paid Brady — nearly $100MM over three years — and the fact that the team will need to hand LT Tristan Wirfs a top-of-the-market contract at some point, there are clear budgetary issues at play. The Falcons and Patriots loom as potential Mayfield suitors, and Graziano confirms that Atlanta would indeed be interested if Kirk Cousins chooses to remain in Minnesota.

Speaking of Wirfs, Licht implied that the three-time Pro Bowler’s contract is not a top agenda item at the moment (which makes sense, since Wirfs is under club control through 2024 by virture of the fifth-year option of his rookie deal and can be retained via the franchise tag after that). The GM did say, though, that he has had preliminary talks with Wirfs’ camp.

“For sure, we’ve already had some discussions there,” Licht said. “It’s not that Tristan is not a priority, because he’s one of our best players as well. It’s just something from a time standpoint. He’s already under contract, so we’ve had some beginning discussions with his agent.”

As for linebacker Lavonte David, who recently indicated that he would either re-sign with the Bucs or retire, Licht said, “Once again, we’ve been having good conversations. We know Lavonte wants to be a Buccaneer, and we want Lavonte to be a Buccaneer, so that’s usually a pretty good start.”

Although cornerback Carlton Davis is not eligible for free agency — his contract is up at the end of the 2024 campaign — he is due to count $20.37MM against the Bucs’ cap sheet this year. In a subscribers-only piece published by the Fowler-Graziano tandem last week, Davis was identified as a trade candidate.

Restructure Details: Bolts, Bucs, Bills, Jets

Teams continue to be aggressive in creating cap space ahead of Wednesday’s start to the 2023 league year, when franchises must be in compliance with the new $224.8MM salary cap. Here are the latest moves teams made to get there:

  • Reasonable Chargers activity in free agency should be expected. The team that began the week well over the cap has now created more than $40MM in space over the past couple of days. Following the moves to restructure Keenan Allen and Mike Williams‘ contracts, Field Yates of tweets the team created $25.99MM by tweaking Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack‘s deals. Mack’s 2023 cap number drops by $10.8MM, while OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald adds Bosa’s drops by $15.2MM. Bosa’s 2024 number ballooned to $36.6MM because of the move. That will, then, necessitate more maneuvering down the line. The Bosa, Mack, Allen and Williams moves have created a total of $40.37MM in space, Lindsey Thiry of tweets. They are now more than $19MM under the cap.
  • In completing four restructures, the Buccaneers have now created more than $44MM in cap space. They redid the deals of Vita Vea, Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Bucs have moved to being barely $5MM over the cap, after beginning March at nearly $60MM north of the salary ceiling. Cuts of Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate and Donovan Smith have helped the team along the way as well. That said, Fournette and Brate cannot be released until after the start of the league year, Greg Auman of Fox Sports notes (on Twitter). The Bucs being unable to realize those savings until after 3pm Wednesday will force them to find a few other ways to create that space.
  • The Jets adjusted the deals of Laken Tomlinson, D.J. Reed and Tyler Conklin — all free agency additions from 2022 — to create $15.2MM in cap space, Yates tweets. Still working to land Aaron Rodgers, the Jets are now $11.5MM under the cap.
  • The Raiders are among the leaders in cap space, but Yates tweets they adjusted Maxx Crosby‘s deal to create $7.5MM in additional funds. Las Vegas holds more than $43MM in cap space, sitting third overall ahead of free agency.
  • Bills defensive tackle Tim Settle agreed to a $600K pay cut for 2023, Yates adds (on Twitter). The 2022 free agency addition still has $2.1MM in guaranteed money for 2023, with the Buffalo News’ Ryan O’Halloran adding Settle can earn up to $4.41MM this year via incentives. The Bills are moving closer to the deadline with a lot of work left ahead; they are more than $19MM over the cap.
  • The Vikings and swing backup O-lineman Chris Reed agreed to a renegotiated deal that trims his cap number by around $1MM, per Yates. Minnesota still has work to do ahead of the cap-compliance deadline, sitting more than $7MM over the cap.

Latest On Buccaneers Injuries

The Buccaneers are still dealing with their fair share of injuries, but the team could soon be welcoming back some key players. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, cornerback Carlton Davis II, and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting all practiced this week, a strong indication that they’re ready to return from their respective injuries.

Hicks has been sidelined since Week 2 while nursing a foot injury. The veteran defensive lineman started 77 games during his six seasons in Chicago before joining the Buccaneers this past offseason. He started each of Tampa’s first two games, collecting five total tackles. His return to the lineup will surely help a defensive line that has struggled against the run.

“It helps because it puts everybody back in their roles,” coach Todd Bowles said. “It puts everybody back in their roles and they can get the amount of time and play how they’re used to playing, and it helps us up front because it gives us a dimension we haven’t had over there.”

Davis had missed the past two games after aggravating a hip injury in Week 6. The 25-year-old started each of the Buccaneers’ first six games, collecting 31 tackles and four passes defended. Murphy-Bunting suffered a squad injury in Week 5 that forced him to miss a handful of games.

Of course, as mentioned, Tampa Bay still has a crowded injury list. Pro Bowl defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. will be out tomorrow against the Rams, as will tight end Cameron Brate, left guard Luke Goedeke, and wide receiver Russell Gage.

Latest On Tampa Bay’s Cornerbacks Room

The Buccaneers allowed depth players Richard Sherman and Pierre Desir to walk in free agency this offseason, but held onto their most important free agent cornerback when they re-signed Carlton Davis to a three-year, $45MM contract. Besides the departures of Sherman and Desir, and the rookie depth additions that counteract them, the room looks quite the same as it did last season. If the position group can stay healthy, how does the depth chart play out with most of last year’s contributors returning? Let’s take a look. 

Davis is the only for sure starter at cornerback for Tampa Bay. He’s been a consistent starter since getting drafted in the second round in 2018, but really broke out in his second year of NFL football. After a rookie season that saw him break up only 4 passes, Davis exploded in coverage recording 19, 18, and 11 passes defensed in each year after. Davis has six interceptions in his first four seasons (four in 2020, alone), but his 52 total passes defensed says plenty about his ability to make plays on the ball. He’ll enter the season as the team’s No. 1 cornerback, with questions surrounding who will be No. 2.

Jamel Dean is likely the top prospect to start opposite Davis in base formations. He or his competition for that second spot, Sean Murphy-Bunting, would still see plenty of the field as the third cornerback, as the Buccaneers primarily utilize a nickel defense, but, when utilizing only four defensive backs, Dean is currently the favorite to be on the field. Not only are they competing for a spot atop the depth chart, but, considering both were members of Tampa Bay’s 2019 draft class, they will also be striving to earn a new payday like Davis’ in their contract years.

Dean didn’t enter the 2021 NFL season as a starter, but, after an elbow injury sent Murphy-Bunting to injured reserve, Dean took over and made the most of his opportunity. Dean has consistently missed at least two games every season with injury, but, considering the extended time Davis and Murphy-Bunting missed last season, two games doesn’t seem so bad. With 33 passes defensed, Dean has shown the ability in coverage to stay close and make plays on the ball. The biggest downside to his game is that Dean hasn’t quite been able to convert those plays into turnovers, only totaling five interceptions over three seasons. Dean possesses ideal size and speed for the position and was even graded one slot above Davis last season according to Pro Football Focus’ position rankings (subscription required).

Murphy-Bunting was drafted one round earlier than Dean and, so far, his opportunities have reflected that. Last year was the first that saw Murphy-Bunting miss time due to injury, but that doesn’t make Dean’s impressive showing in his absence any less inimical to Murphy-Bunting’s starting role. The injury last season really limited Murphy-Bunting, as PFF graded him out as the 90th cornerback in the NFL, compared to Dean and Davis’s 20th and 21st, respectively. Murphy-Bunting has shown the player he can be when healthy, though, and if that version of him shows up for competition, he may find his way back into a solidified starting role. As a rookie, Murphy-Bunting showed off his ball skills with three interceptions. While he only has one pick in the next two regular seasons, he was able to reel in an interception in three-straight playoff games in 2020. Which version of Murphy-Bunting the Buccaneers get this season will largely affect the starting roles, but, as mentioned above, Tampa Bay’s nickel defense should allow plenty of snaps for both Dean and Murphy-Bunting.

Now Tampa Bay does have another option. If either Dean or Murphy-Bunting struggle coming into the season, the Buccaneers could move Logan Ryan, whom they signed in the offseason to fill in the free safety role left vacant by Jordan Whitehead‘s departure, back to his natural position of cornerback. Ryan hasn’t played cornerback since 2019, but he serves as a more-than-qualified “break glass in case of emergency” option.

Behind the top three corners, Tampa Bay returns Ross Cockrell, Dee Delaney, and Rashard Robinson. Cockrell is a journeyman cornerback with plenty of starting experience with his past teams. He and Delaney filled in a bit as starters when Davis and Murphy-Bunting were out last year, but, over the course of the season, Cockrell proved the most effective backup cornerback. Delaney made the most of his defensive opportunities getting an interception and two passes defensed in five games of extended action on defense. Delaney is a core special teamer, though, and really only serves as a depth piece on defense. Similarly, though Robinson has starting experience from his time in San Francisco, he mainly served as a reserve cornerback last year in Tampa Bay.

Rookie fifth-round pick Zyon McCollum and undrafted rookies Kyler McMichael and Don Gardner round out the roster for Tampa Bay at cornerback. They may be able to fight their way onto the 53-man roster by proving their worth on special teams, but McCollum is probably the only rookie here who may find his way into the cornerback rotation as a depth piece.

Tampa Bay’s nickel look should field, essentially, four cornerbacks, with Davis, Dean, Murphy-Bunting, and Ryan all surrounding starting strong safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Dean and Murphy-Bunting will compete throughout the preseason to determine who stays on the field in base formations. Cockrell and Delaney will likely continue their role as key backups. Robinson may find himself competing with McCollum for a roster spot, with McMichael and Gardner attempting to beat the odds. The Buccaneers know they can achieve success with this roster of cornerbacks, based on its similarities to last season, but just how they choose to employ their corners will determine how much success they can achieve.

Buccaneers, CB Carlton Davis Agree To Deal

Carlton Davis will follow Ryan Jensen in staying with the Buccaneers. The standout cornerback agreed to terms with the Bucs on Monday afternoon, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

It is a three-year, $45MM pact, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets, adding that it comes with $30MM guaranteed (Twitter link). Davis will see $23.5MM fully guaranteed, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes (on Twitter), adding that Davis’ pact maxes out at $45MM. The base total figures to come in a bit below that.

Tampa Bay was over the cap before this Davis agreement, so the team will need to continue to make moves ahead of Wednesday’s start to the 2022 league year. But Davis returning fills a key need for a Bucs team that is now firmly back in the Super Bowl mix, Tom Brady having unretired and all. A team that was close to falling to fringe-contender status now has re-upped its center and top cornerback, spending to fortify its roster as it did in 2021.

Within minutes, cornerback-seeking teams have seen the two top UFAs move off the board. The Chargers just gave J.C. Jackson a $16.5MM-per-year deal; Davis’ checks in just below that. The former Bucs second-round pick will still earn top-10 cornerback money.

Although Davis missed seven games last season with a quad injury, he returned in early December and finished the season to re-establish his value. After a four-interception 2020 season, Davis nabbed just one pick last year. He allowed an 83.2 passer rating when targeted and entered the offseason as one of the top free agents available. This will ensure the Bucs’ top corners from recent years — the homegrown trio of Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean — are on track to reprise their roles in 2022. The latter two will go into contract years.

Tampa Bay has lost both its guard starters from the past four seasons — Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa — to retirement and a Bengals defection, respectively, but the team has done well to make these deals happen. Although, the Bucs might have to dip into the void-year realm again to fit these contracts onto their payroll. (No void years are present in Davis’ deal, however, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets.) Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh are still unattached.

Buccaneers Rework Vita Vea’s Contract

The restructures keep coming, and this time it’s the Buccaneers opening up a chunk of cap. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the Buccaneers have restructured the contract of nose tackle Vita Vea.

[RELATED: Buccaneers Place Franchise Tag On Chris Godwin]

Specifically, the team restructured the veteran’s base salary, opening up $7.64MM worth of cap space. Greg Auman of The Athletic has more details (via Twitter), noting that the organization reduced Vea’s salary from $10.6MM to $1.12MM, leading to the player getting a $9.46MM bonus.

The Buccaneers barely had any breathing room over the cap heading into the offseason, and that was before they slapped wideout Chris Godwin with the franchise tag. The team will surely have more cap-saving transactions, but they’ll still be hard pressed to afford all of their impending free agents, a group that includes Carlton Davis.

Vea has spent his entire four-year career in Tampa Bay, and the former first-round pick signed a four-year, $73MM extension with the Buccaneers back in January. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2021 after finishing with 33 tackles, four sacks, and 12 QB hits.

Bucs To Start Post-Brady Rebuild?

With three-time MVP quarterback Tom Brady announcing his retirement earlier today, speculation has already started on the future of the Buccaneers’ franchise. Brady’s retirement has experts wondering about the futures of tight end Rob Gronkowki and head coach Bruce Arians. Both have flirted with retirement before. 

Contributing to the postulation on Arians’ situation is head coaching interest in the Buccaneers’ coordinators on both sides of the ball. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich recently had his second interview for the Jaguars open coaching position. Reportedly, talks have stalled as Leftwich has expressed issues with current general manager Trent Baalke continuing in that position, with Leftwich preferring Cardinals’ vice president of pro scouting Adrian Wilson to replace the polarizing GM. The Saints have requested an interview with Leftwich, who previously received interest from the Bears before they hired Matt Eberflus. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has interviewed with the Bears, Jaguars, Raiders, and Vikings. With the Bears’ job taken, Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels being the presumed frontrunner in Las Vegas, and Jacksonville having conducted multiple second interviews Bowles’ opportunities for a head coaching job are starting to dwindle, as well.

More cause for speculation has risen from an article from Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. In the article Wilson reports that Arians has informed the entire coaching staff that they have permission to seek jobs around the league regardless of whether or not the new position would be a promotion. With the potential exit of the two New England-legends and the impactful group of Buccaneers heading into free agency, this permission could potentially be an opportunity to abandon ship before the start of a Tampa Bay rebuild.

In terms of those free agents, joining free-agent-to-be Gronkowski are three other significant role players: wide receiver Chris Godwin, center Ryan Jensen, and cornerback Carlton Davis. Godwin is expected to be the top free agent priority in Tampa Bay after he received the franchise tag for this past season. Jensen came over three years ago from the Ravens on what then made him the highest paid center in the NFL. Davis was a key contributor due for a big contract year on defense before being placed on IR after Week 4 of the season and missing eight weeks during a crucial year.

The domino-effect of Brady’s retirement is already looming large over the Buccaneers’ prospects for the 2022 NFL season. Tampa Bay has the entire offseason to navigate these obstacles and mitigate the potential fallout. After winning a Super Bowl just last year, the departure of Brady could be as game-changing to the Buccaneers as his arrival was nearly two years ago.

Bucs Activate CB Carlton Davis From IR

The Buccaneers will have another of their longtime cornerback starters in uniform Sunday. They activated Carlton Davis from IR on Friday. The fourth-year cover man is set to suit up for the first time since Week 4.

A quad injury in New England rerouted Davis’ season. He has missed the past seven Bucs games, joining Sean Murphy-Bunting in being sidelined for a sizable chunk of the season. But both are now back on Tampa Bay’s active roster.

While the Bucs are still without Richard Sherman and received notice Thursday that Mike Edwards will be suspended three games, the Bucs have not had Davis and Murphy-Bunting on the field together since Week 1. The duo has played together as starters for most of the past three seasons, including in Super Bowl LV.

In addition to Davis’ extended absence this year, he missed four games between the 2019 and ’20 seasons. He still leads the NFL in passes defensed (42) in that span. Davis added four interceptions last season and grabbed another pick this year. This season’s home stretch stands to be pivotal for the Auburn product, who is due for free agency in 2022.