Ronald Jones

Contract Details: Howard, Trubisky, Key, Jones

Here are some details on deals recently reached around the NFL:

  • Xavien Howard, CB (Dolphins): Five-year, $90MM. The contract, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, has a guaranteed amount of $36.3MM consisting of a $17.12MM signing bonus and the next two seasons of base salary worth just $1.04MM in 2022 and jumping to $18.15MM in 2023. On the third league day of the 2024 season, $4MM of the 2024 base salary (worth $15.4MM) becomes guaranteed. Howard will receive roster bonuses of $3MM on the second league day of each of the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons. He also will receive an additional $1MM for each Pro Bowl and 1st-Team All-Pro selection and $100,000 per year as a workout bonus. Howard had three years remaining on his deal before signing his extension. It’s extremely rare for a team to draw up a new deal with that much time remaining, but Miami’s willingness to keep Howard happy is a testament to how important he is to the franchise.
  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Steelers): Two-year, $14.29MM. The contract, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, has a signing bonus of $5.25MM set to apply evenly over both years of the deal. Trubisky’s base salary in 2022 is only $1.04MM and jumps up to $8MM in 2023. The deal holds a potential $8.5MM in incentives. $4MM of play-time incentives each year should be easily reached if Trubisky wins the starting job and stays healthy. The remaining $500,000 would be earned in $250,000 increments if Trubisky makes the Pro Bowl in either year.
  • Arden Key, DE (Jaguars): One-year, $4MM. The contract, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, has a guaranteed amount of $3MM consisting of the signing bonus and base salary, each worth $1.5MM. The remaining $1MM comes in the form of a $500,000 roster bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus. Key will receive a per game active bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000. Wilson also reports that Key can earn up to $3MM of additional money in sack and Pro Bowl incentives.
  • Ronald Jones, RB (Chiefs): One-year, $1.5MM. The contract, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic, consists of a $250,000 signing bonus and a $1.25MM base salary. The deal was originally reported as “up to $5MM”, but Auman clarifies that any money past the listed $1.5MM would consist of incentives.

Chiefs Sign RB Ronald Jones

The Chiefs are bringing in a veteran running back. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter), Kansas City is signing RB Ronald Jones to a one-year deal. The running back can earn up to $5MM on his one-year pact (per Pelissero on Twitter).

[RELATED: Chiefs Host WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, RB Ronald Jones]

Jones met with the Chiefs earlier this week alongside wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling. MVS ended up inking a three-year, $30MM pact with the Chiefs.

Jones was a 2018 second-round pick by the Buccaneers. He saw an inconsistent role during his first four seasons in the NFL; he had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage in both 2019 and 2020, but he was limited to only 492 yards from scrimmage in 2021 while playing second fiddle to Leonard Fournette. Jones does have some pass-catching ability (76 career receptions) and he’s averaged a modest 4.5 yards on his rushing attempts, so there’s a good chance he’ll be a usable piece in the Chiefs offense.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire should return to the top of the depth chart in 2022, but backups Jerick McKinnon and Darrel Williams are both free agents. That means Jones will likely compete for backup reps with Derrick Gore.

Tom Brady Coming Out Of Retirement, Will Rejoin Bucs

It looks like the Buccaneers’ quarterback questions have been answered for now. Get comfortable, Kyle Trask, you’ve got a bit longer to wait. After 40 days of retirement, Tom Brady has announced he will return for his 23rd season of NFL football in a tweet this evening. He announced he has unfinished business in Tampa after the team lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year to the eventual-Super Bowl Champion Rams. 

Rumors of a Brady unretirement had persisted since his February 1st announcement. Brady even hinted at the possibility of a Favre-like return, coming back just in time for training camp. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, made it very clear that they had no intention of allowing Brady to play elsewhere for the 2022 NFL Season. It turns out, they have nothing to worry about for now. Brady cited his love for his teammates in his unretirement announcement.

Some details will need to be hashed out as Brady still had four years on his contract, with all years after 2022 being voided upon his retirement. Past that, Tampa Bay has several offensive pieces set to become unrestricted free agents including center Ryan Jensen, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, and running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, and Giovani Bernard. If they are going to attempt another glory run, these loose ends will need to be tied up.

In response to the news, no one is more happy to see the quarterback return than Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey who was set to spend eternity as the last person to have Tom Brady throw a touchdown on them. On the other hand, no one is less happy to see the quarterback return than the unfortunate big-spender who just dropped $518,000 at an auction in a bid to receive Tom Brady’s final touchdown ball. Looks like there will be many other balls getting thrown past many other defensive backs before Brady retires again.

Buccaneers Activate Leonard Fournette From IR, Waive Le’Veon Bell

After the Buccaneers played without their top two running backs in their wild-card game, they are set to have one of them back against the Rams.

Leonard Fournette is coming off IR and will play Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Tampa Bay’s starting back has been out since suffering a hamstring injury in Week 15. The Bucs designated Fournette for return last week but kept him on IR ahead of their Eagles matchup, moving forward with Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard.

This week, Fournette should play a major role. While it is not certain if the former top-five pick will be up for his pre-injury workload, the Bucs having their leading rusher back will certainly help their cause. The team’s running game might encounter tougher-than-usual sledding, given some key offensive line injuries.

Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs did get in limited practices this week, but The Athletic’s Jeff Howe tweets the latter is dealing with a high ankle sprain. This troublesome ailment could keep Wirfs out, and even if the All-Pro right tackle plays, he figures to be far less than 100%. Wirfs has yet to miss a game in two seasons.

The Bucs will also be without Fournette backup Ronald Jones, but their primary 2020 back has not been much of a factor this season. After gaining only 367 rushing yards in 2020, which featured time as a healthy scratch, Fournette totaled 1,266 scrimmage yards and matched his career-high with 10 touchdowns despite the hamstring injury ending his regular season early. Fournette returning to his “Playoff Lenny” form would stand to cement his value ahead of free agency, which should feature a better market for the ex-Jaguar this time around.

To make room for Fournette, the Bucs are waiving Le’Veon Bell, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. This marks the second time this season a team has waived the former All-Pro. The Ravens cut bait during the regular season. Bell, however, makes sense as practice squad insurance for the Bucs. Bell’s route back to Tampa Bay’s taxi squad would be fairly smooth, given his one-year contract and any team claiming Bell being unable to use him in the playoffs.

Buccaneers To Activate Lavonte David, Giovani Bernard; Leonard Fournette To Remain On IR

Part of the Buccaneers’ injured contingent will be back in uniform for the defending champions Sunday. Lavonte David and Giovani Bernard are set to come off IR on Saturday, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets.

David suffered a foot injury in Week 15, joining Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin in going down during a shutout loss to the Saints. Godwin is done for the season, and Laine adds Fournette will not be activated ahead of Saturday’s roster-setting deadline. Fournette is battling a hamstring injury.

While Bernard has not played a key role this season, he will be in line to do so against the Eagles. Not only is Fournette out, but the Bucs also declared Ronald Jones out because of an ankle injury. Tampa Bay has Bernard, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Le’Veon Bell as its healthy backs.

Fournette carried the load for the Bucs for most of this season, reducing Jones and the others to bit parts. The former Jaguars top-five pick totaled a Bucs-most 1,266 scrimmage yards in 14 games. Fournette can still be activated ahead of a divisional-round game or the NFC championship, provided this Bucs iteration’s season extends that far.

One of the NFL’s top off-ball linebackers over the past 10 seasons, David was instrumental to the Bucs claiming their second Super Bowl title last season. He totaled 97 tackles and two forced fumbles this season and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 linebacker. David will be tasked with leading a charge against an Eagles team that leads the NFL in rushing.

Bruce Arians said Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are also on track to return against Philadelphia. While Barrett was a full practice participant Friday, JPP did not suit up for even a limited session due to his shoulder and knee injuries. JPP is not on IR, however, and has not been declared out.

Latest On Buccaneers’ Injury Situation

The Buccaneers will be finishing the regular season with a number of key pieces missing. According to an injury update from ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Tampa Bay will be without their top two pass rushers, top two running backs and, in all likelihood, an experienced piece of the secondary. 

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett tested positive for COVID-19, which added another reason for him to miss Sunday’s game against Carolina. He is still recovering from a sprained MCL and ACL suffered during the team’s Week 16 win over the Panthers. In 15 games, Barrett has 51 tackles and a team-leading 10 sacks. His pass-rushing partner, Jason Pierre-Paul, will also be out due to a torn rotator cuff that’s kept him out since Week 15. Pierre-Paul has registered 31 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 12 games in 2021. In their absences, look for Anthony Nelson and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to start.

Meanwhile, backup running back Ronald Jones will be out after suffering an ankle injury in Week 17’s comeback win over the Jets. Head Coach Bruce Arians said, “we’ll have to wait and see on [Jones’] ankle because he can run straight but he still can’t cut”. The 24-year old had a walking boot on earlier in the week, but not any longer. Jones has 428 rushing yards and four touchdowns this season. Starter Leonard Fournette, in the meantime, remains on IR, but Arians is optimistic he will be ready for the playoffs. The Bucs would sorely miss his 1,266 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns if doesn’t get activated in time. Ke’Shawn Vaughn is expected to play, and likely start, in Week 18.

Finally, cornerback Richard Sherman is listed as doubtful with an Achilles injury. After suffering a grade 2 calf sprain in November, the 33-year old came back in Week 14. However, he has missed two of three games since, and continued a downward trend in terms of playing time. After being on the field for nearly every down in his first two games as a Buc, Sherman has played a total of 29 snaps since, registering 11 tackles and one interception. Despite the news, Tampa Bay’s secondary is healthy overall.

The Buccaneers head into the final week of the season as the NFC’s third seed, where they will likely end up. They could move up to second, however, with a win over the 5-11 Panthers, along with a 49ers win over the Rams. Regardless of where they finish, though, health will be a huge question mark as they try to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

 

Teams Monitoring Availability Of Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones

A number of teams are dealing with injuries at running back, and they’re looking toward the defending Super Bowl champs for reinforcement. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that teams are monitoring Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones.

It would make sense for teams to assume that Jones is available. Leonard Fournette has taken control of the lead back role, while offseason addition Giovani Bernard continues to dominate passing downs. As a result, Jones has averaged about 12 snaps per game over the past four contests.

However, Pelissero notes that there’s still a question of whether the Bucs would even let go of the former second-round pick. While Jones has seen limited snaps, he is still playing, collecting 23 touches in those aforementioned four games. Plus, he provides the Buccaneers was some insurance in case Fournette or Bernand suffer an injury.

Jones had a career year in 2020, finishing with 1,143 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. He added another 139 rushing yards in three postseason games. The 24-year-old is set to hit free agency following the 2021 season.

Bucs Notes: Brady, JPP, Brown

There are several high-profile Buccaneers that have undergone offseason surgery already. According to head coach Bruce Arians, five-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady has gone under the knife to clean up the knee issue we heard about several weeks ago (Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). Though Brady will not be ready to participate in team drills until June, the fact that Tampa is willing to discuss an extension with him suggests the club is not particularly worried about his prognosis.

Meanwhile, OLB Jason Pierre-Paul underwent a knee surgery of his own today, as Jenna Laine of ESPN.com passes along. JPP had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee in July, and he landed on the injury report throughout the 2020 season as a result of the injury. Still, he didn’t miss a game and led the Bucs with 9.5 regular season sacks, so he will head into a contract year with plenty of momentum and, hopefully, a clean bill of health.

On a related note, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that RB Ronald Jones recently had a pin removed from his broken left pinky finger, which required surgery in December. Jones played through the injury and finished off a successful third pro season. After a disappointing rookie year, Jones is living up to his status as a former second-rounder and, like JPP, has a good chance to set himself up for a big payday if he can replicate his 2020 performance in 2021.

Here are a few more notes on the defending champs:

  • As you know by now, the Bucs have a number of big-name free agents, which could make this offseason a difficult one for GM Jason Licht to navigate. The team has made it clear that it wants to bring back players like WR Chris Godwin and LB Lavonte David, and it sounds like Godwin might be willing to offer Tampa a hometown discount. Fellow wideout Mike Evans has also expressed a willingness to take a paycut, but Arians isn’t sure that outside FAs will be willing to take less than market value just for the opportunity to play with Brady and the Bucs. “Dollars still talk,” the 68-year-old HC said (Twitter link via Greg Auman of The Athletic). Because of how many in-house priorities Tampa has, Arians suggested his club might not be especially active in the free agent market anyway.
  • In addition to Evans’ willingness to make a personal sacrifice to keep the band together, there are a number of other players who are open to restructuring their own deals, per Arians (Twitter link via Stroud). Such restructures would not result in less money for those players, but it would open up more cap space for the Bucs to retain most, if not all, of their top FAs.
  • Another free agent the Bucs want to keep, Antonio Brown, obviously has off-field matters to tend to. Britney Taylor’s lawsuit against Brown is set for trial in December, and as Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic writes, Taylor wants to subpoena copies of all documentation the Bucs have related to Brown (she is subpoenaing Brown’s three former teams as well). Taylor is not seeking to depose any team executives, and she needs court approval to send the subpoenas.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/29/20

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Buccaneers Place Ronald Jones On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Ronald Jones underwent surgery on a fractured pinkie finger this week, leaving his status for Week 15 in doubt. The Buccaneers running back now has another hurdle to clear before returning to action.

The Bucs placed their starting back on their reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. It is not yet known if Jones has contracted the coronavirus, but he will be out of practice this week while on the list. Jones being a high-risk close contact would shelve him for five days, but depending on when the contact with a COVID-positive person occurred, the third-year back could return in time for Sunday’s game.

This comes a day after the Bucs placed specialists Ryan Succop, Bradley Pinion and Zach Triner on their virus list. With Jones joining them, this is a situation to monitor going into Week 15. Jones did not practice Wednesday.

Jones suffered the fracture during Tampa Bay’s win against Minnesota last week. The former second-round pick leads the Bucs with a career-high 900 rushing yards.