DECEMBER 5: Ryan is back on the Bucs’ active roster. The team moved the veteran defender back onto its 53-man roster Monday, representing its third injury activation this season. Five remain for Tampa Bay. Ryan has been out since going down in Week 4 with the foot ailment.
NOVEMBER 30: It sounds like the Buccaneers will soon be getting some reinforcement on defense. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), Tampa Bay has designated defensive back Logan Ryan to return from injured reserve. The Buccaneers will now have three weeks to activate the veteran to the active roster.
Ryan suffered a foot injury back in October that ultimately required surgery. Prior to that, the Buccaneers were leaning on Ryan in their secondary. In his four games (two starts), the veteran appeared in more than half of Tampa Bay’s defensive snaps, with Ryan collecting nine tackles, one forced fumble, and one interception.
At the beginning of the year, Ryan generally took the field alongside safeties Mike Edwards and Antoine Winfield whenever the latter was moved to the slot in sub packages. However, whenever Ryan returns, he could end up seeing a different role. Winfield is dealing with an ankle injury that forced him out of Sunday’s loss, while cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are dealing with their own injuries.
Ryan’s versatility could end up coming in handy as the Buccaneers approach the final stretch of the season. The veteran made a name for himself as a cornerback in New England, and following four seasons and two championships with the Patriots, Ryan landed a lucrative contract from the Titans in 2017. He ended up playing out his deal in Tennessee, and when he joined the Giants in 2020, he decided to switch to safety. It’s been a bit since the 31-year-old played cornerback, but considering his more than 100 games of experience at the position, he could surely fill in if needed.
The Buccaneers offense could soon be getting some reinforcement. The team announced that they’ve designated running back Giovani Bernard to return from injured reserve. The Buccaneers now have three weeks to activate the running back to their active roster.
Bernard landed on injured reserve in September after suffering an ankle injury in Week 2. In his one-plus games this season, the 30-year-old exclusively played on special teams, including one kickoff return.
The RB hasn’t played a significant offensive role since joining the Buccaneers in 2021, as he finished his first season in Tampa Bay with only 181 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns on 31 touches. However, he’s only two years removed from a 2020 campaign that saw him finish with 771 yards from scrimmage. Leonard Fournette suffered a hip injury last week, but thanks to a Week 11 bye week, he should be good to go on Sunday. Rachaad White had a career day while filling in for Fournette, finishing with 105 rushing yards on 22 carries. Bernard made a name for himself as a pass-catcher in Cincinnati, and if Leonard’s hip injury lingers, the veteran could end up seeing more offensive snaps.
The Buccaneers got some more good injury news today, as guard Luke Goedeke and wideout Russell Gage returned to practice, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Gage has missed a month with a hamstring injury, and with the offseason acquisition now back on the field, Tom Brady will have a full grouping of wideouts heading into the final stretch of the season. Goedeke’s foot injury forced him to miss a chunk of time, and the veteran has since been jumped in the starting lineup by Nick Leverett.
Meanwhile, while safety Logan Ryan has been working out with the team, he still hasn’t been activated from injured reserve. The veteran defensive back’s foot surgery landed him on IR back in October.
Logan Ryan will be moving off the Buccaneers’ 53-man roster due to a fractured foot, but the team is not shutting him down for the season just yet.
The Bucs are planning to place Ryan on IR, and surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. Ryan still plans to be back late this season, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (via Twitter). Ryan has missed Tampa Bay’s past two games. While he must miss at least four more because of this transaction, it sounds like he will need more than the IR minimum to recover.
A Giants cap casualty in March, Ryan joined the Bucs soon after. He has not been a full-time starter with his fourth NFL team, but the Bucs have used the veteran defensive back regularly. Ryan has played 54% of the Bucs’ defensive snaps in the games in which he has suited up; he suffered the injury against the Chiefs in Week 4. Ryan, 31, is attached to a one-year, $1.12MM deal.
Tampa Bay played without Ryan, safety Mike Edwards and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting in its Week 6 loss in Pittsburgh. The team used Keanu Neal alongside starter Antoine Winfield Jr. at safety Sunday. Neal, who joined Ryan in signing with the Bucs this offseason, figures to be in line for more work going forward. During his short time with the Bucs, Ryan has upped his career INT count to 19 and his career start number to 117.
Ryan’s timeline mirrors Ryan Jensen‘s. The team carried its starting center through to its 53-man roster past cutdown day, doing so despite Jensen suffering a serious knee injury during training camp. But Jensen has an outside chance to suit up again should the Bucs book their third straight playoff berth. Ryan appears to have a much better chance of returning to action this season, but the ex-Patriots, Titans and Giants defender will still need to wait a while before that window opens.
AUGUST 31: As expected, Ryan is coming back to the Bucs. Todd Bowles confirmed Wednesday the veteran safety, despite being cut Tuesday, will re-sign with the team.
AUGUST 30: For the time being, Logan Ryan is off the Buccaneers’ roster. It remains to be seen if the veteran defensive back will return.
As they move down to the 53-man max Tuesday, the Bucs released Ryan, per Pewter Report. As a vested veteran, Ryan can move through waivers and could opt to return to the Bucs — after they have made necessary roster moves.
One of those moves will be shifting Ryan Jensen to injured reserve. While Jensen suffered a severe injury, the veteran center is not viewed as out for the season just yet. A potential return in the playoffs has not been ruled out. But Jensen will be off Tampa Bay’s roster soon. That could open the door to Ryan coming back, though other teams are now free to negotiate with the former Patriots, Titans and Giants defender.
The Bucs did not give Ryan any fully guaranteed money to add Ryan, whom the Giants cut in March, this offseason. But the veteran drew steady praise from Tampa Bay’s coaches during training camp, The Athletic’s Greg Auman tweets.
Considering this could be Tom Brady‘s final year with the Bucs (and/or final year in the NFL), keeping a proven veteran like Ryan, 31, would make sense. The Bucs lost Jordan Whitehead in free agency, leading to the Ryan move. They also signed Keanu Neal this offseason. Ryan can be re-signed as soon as Wednesday, if that is the route the Bucs are going.
Ryan is expected to return soon, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. His release — from a contract containing no fully guaranteed money — is likely connected to Ryan Jensen‘s impending IR trip.
The Bucs should also be expected to retain Griffin on their 16-man practice squad, which can include up to six vested vets. Griffin has gone through a lengthy career without much actual usage. A 2013 Saints UDFA, Griffin has been with the Bucs since September 2015. Odds are, after he re-signed to stay in Tampa again this offseason, the veteran QB is part of the initial 2022 Bucs P-squad. Griffin, 32, has played in two career games. He would be the Bucs’ fourth passer — behind Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask — if kept. So, the same arrangement as 2021.
The Bucs signed Avery last week. Avery spent the offseason with the Steelers but did not make their cut to 80; the Steelers have since traded for Broncos backup OLB Malik Reed. Borregales’ exit will give Ryan Succop the kicker job for a third straight year. After the Bucs went through several years of kicker instability, Succop has done well to inject reliability into the equation. Succop’s extension runs through 2023.
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.
Safety Logan Ryan was signed by the Buccaneers in March, one day after being released by the Giants. Per Dan Duggan of The Athletic, Ryan has filed a grievance against Big Blue (Twitter link).
The Ryan release was not necessarily part of new Giants GM Joe Schoen‘s efforts to shed payroll and make his club cap-compliant; the transaction was only expected to net about $775K of cap space for 2022, since Ryan was not designated a post-June 1 cut. Instead, parting ways with Ryan had more to do with the fact that he is 31 and was deemed to be an imperfect fit in New York’s new defensive regime (and it did clear $12.25MM off the books for 2023).
Ryan was due an $8.5MM salary in 2022, and $5.5MM of that figure was fully-guaranteed. The remaining $3MM, which is at issue in the grievance, was guaranteed for injury. As Duggan reports in a separate tweet, Ryan underwent postseason finger surgery, so his position is that the injury guarantee should kick in and that he is entitled to an additional $3MM. Until the matter is resolved, 40% of the disputed amount, or $1.2MM, will remain on the Giants’ cap.
Schoen has just two safeties on the roster at the moment (2019 fourth-rounder Julian Love and 2020 second-rounder Xavier McKinney). The Giants currently hold the Nos. 5 and 7 overall picks and will therefore have a good chance to draft star Notre Dame safety/do-it-all weapon Kyle Hamilton, but with plenty of other holes at more valuable positions, the club may choose to pass on the former Golden Domer and address its safety needs with later picks or in post-draft free agency.
Ryan, meanwhile, went from a rebuilding team to a championship contender. By reuniting with former Patriots teammate Tom Brady in Tampa, Ryan will have a chance to add a third Super Bowl ring to his collection as part of a safety group that includes Antoine Winfield Jr., Mike Edwards, and fellow free agent acquisition Keanu Neal.
Prior to the Browns coming in with their stunning offer, Deshaun Watson was speaking with veteran free agents about teaming up with the Falcons. Watson spoke with Leonard Fournette and Jarvis Landry about playing with him in Atlanta, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (ESPN+ link). By the evening of March 17, the Falcons believed they had won the Watson sweepstakes, Fowler adds, and the quarterback was attempting to upgrade the team’s pass-catching corps. Cleveland’s fully guaranteed $230MM proposal changed everything, and Landry is now a possibility to return to the Browns. The eight-year veteran wide receiver visited the Falcons previously, but the team’s outlook has changed considerably since. Fournette re-signed with the Bucs this week.
Watson is a Brown, and Matt Ryan is now a Colt, leaving the Falcons with a record dead-money total and a rebuild to orchestrate. “We’re taking it on the chin this year,” Falcons GM Terry Fontenot said of the $40MM Ryan cap hit (via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, on Twitter), but noted that the outlook will brighten in 2023. Here is the latest from the NFC South:
Despite the Buccaneers bringing back William Gholston, Ndamukong Suh is likely still on the team’s radar. Suh has discussed a Tampa return with Bucs coaches, Fowler adds, viewing another year with the team as a good way to strengthen his Hall of Fame resume. The All-Decade defensive tackle has played with the Bucs for the past three seasons. Suh re-signed with Tampa Bay on March 24, 2021, and played for $9MM last season. The Bucs now have Vita Vea signed to a more lucrative deal, but the team is likely amenable to keeping Suh around, as it has continued to re-sign key vets.
Logan Ryan spent the bulk of his pre-New York days as a cornerback, but Jason Licht said (via The Athletic’s Greg Auman, on Twitter) he will play safety for the Bucs. Licht said the Bucs pursued Ryan during his lengthy free agency bid in 2020; the Giants signed him late that summer and extended him before the 2020 season ended. Ryan became a Giants cap casualty earlier this month and will join a Bucs team that lost starting safety Jordan Whitehead to the Jets.
The Panthers have struggled for years to lock down their left tackle position. They are still pursuing an answer here, per Fowler, who adds Carolina looked into Trent Brown‘s market. It does not appear Carolina wants to spent too much at the O-line’s most expensive position, with Fowler also noting the team viewed $10-$12MM per year as too rich for Brown, who re-signed with the Patriots for a deal that did not hit that price range. Brown’s deal is worth $6.5MM a year (base value). Panthers target Duane Brownremains on the market.
The Falcons hosted former Bengals, Bills and Jets tight end Tyler Kroft on a visit recently, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Not known for his receiving prowess, Kroft has topped 200 receiving yards in just one of his seven seasons. The Falcons lost Kyle Pitts complement Hayden Hurst to the Bengals last week.
Former QB T.J. Yates will shift from Falcons passing-game specialist to their wide receivers coach, while Mario Jeberaeel is the team’s new assistant offensive line coach. Formerly an Abilene Christian assistant, Jeberaeel joined the Falcons as an intern in 2021. Former Bengals cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson will join the Falcons and make an interesting transition, signing on as a senior offensive assistant. An ex-NFL cornerback, Jackson has coached in the NFL for 21 years but has done so consistently on the defensive side.
The Buccaneers are rolling out the pewter carpet for Tom Brady. On Friday, the Bucs agreed to sign defensive back and former Brady teammate Logan Ryan, according to sources who spoke with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).
Ryan was released by the Giants on Thursday, bringing his three-year, $31MM deal to an early end. The 31-year-old wasn’t a fit for the new regime, but he was still productive last year as he notched 117 tackles, two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and eight passes defensed across 15 games.
The veteran first made his name in New England, where he spent four seasons with Brady and the Pats. Along the way, he won two Super Bowls and positioned himself for a three-year, $30MM deal with the Titans. He enjoyed one of his most productive seasons in 2019, setting career-highs in tackles (113), passes defended (18), sacks (4.5), and forced fumbles (four), but the Titans didn’t want him back. That led him to the Giants, where he switched to safety and notched 200+ tackles over two seasons.
The terms of the deal are not yet known, but Ryan is still set to collect $5.5MM from the Giants this year, so the Bucs probably didn’t have to break the bank for him.
The Giants are releasing defensive back Logan Ryan (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The Giants will not classify this as a post-June 1 designation, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic (on Twitter), which means they’ll absorb the full dead money hit in 2022.
Ryan, 31, first joined the Giants on a one-year, $7.5MM deal. Towards the end of the 2020 season, the Giants re-upped him on a three-year, $31MM extension. That deal has now been cut short — instead of making $9.25MM with the G-Men this year, Ryan is back on the market.
Last year, Ryan logged 117 total tackles, two tackles for loss, a pair of forced fumbles, and eight passes defensed across 15 games. While he’s still productive, he’ll likely have to settle for a lesser deal elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the Giants’ new regime still has to figure out what to do with James Bradberry. Teams have made trade inquiries on Dave Gettleman‘s high-priced addition, but the offers have been underwhelming so far. The Giants could keep Bradberry, table trade talks until sometime after the draft, or just release him outright. Cutting Bradberry would save the team upwards of $10MM in 2022.