Rakeem Nunez-Roches

NFC South Notes: Saints, Panthers, Bucs

After trading down twice in Round 2, the Panthers planned to select BYU tackle Brady Christensen at No. 60 and add LSU wideout Terrace Marshall Jr. with a subsequent trade-up shortly after. However, the Saints eyed Marshall at No. 60, Darin Gantt of Panthers.com notes, prompting the Panthers to change course and select Marshall earlier than initially planned. Carolina drafted Marshall at No. 59, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The Saints then took Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner at 60. Marshall, who now joins Panthers vets D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, played a key role for LSU’s national championship team alongside Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase and last season after those future first-rounders left. He totaled 23 touchdown grabs from 2019-20. New Orleans cut No. 2 receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason and has been unable to find a steady complement for Michael Thomas for a few years. The team still has Tre’Quan Smith, who is entering a contract year, and used a seventh-round pick on a wideout (South Alabama’s Kawann Baker). The Panthers ended up getting Christensen at No. 70, trading up three spots to land him.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Prior to the Bears trading up to No. 11 and selecting Justin Fields, they called the Panthers about the No. 8 choice, Gantt adds. While the Panthers discussed trading down with a few teams before the draft, the Bears called during Round 1. Carolina ultimately decided moving down 12 spots, to Chicago’s No. 20 slot, was too much. The Panthers selected cornerback Jaycee Horn in Round 1. The Broncos aided the Bears’ quarterback quest a pick later, taking Patrick Surtain II over Fields.
  • This draft profiled as one of the weakest for defensive tackles in recent memory, and the class ended up influencing the Buccaneers to retain veterans at the position. While the Super Bowl champions completed a stunning effort of keeping their team together, GM Jason Licht said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine) the thin D-tackle class moved the team to re-sign Ndamukong Suh, Steve McLendon and Rakeem Nunez-Roches earlier this offseason. The Bucs did not draft a defensive tackle this year.
  • The Saints are reuniting with C.J. Leak, a staffer who once worked as their Combine scout. The Texans dismissed Leak as their assistant director of pro personnel in February, but veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets Leak will return to the Saints. Houston hired Leak in 2018. Leak previously spent two years with New Orleans.
  • Staying on the scouting subject, the Panthers are adding Jared Kirksey to their scouting staff, Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com tweets. Kirksey was previously on the Jaguars’ staff and has previously worked as a Bucs and Texans scout.

Bucs To Re-Sign Rakeem Nunez-Roches

While it will not register on the level that Shaquil Barrett or Lavonte David‘s re-signings did, the Buccaneers brought another member of their Super Bowl champion roster Thursday.

They are re-signing defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, with Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan reporting the veteran interior defender will sign for two years and $5MM. Nunez-Roches, who can earn up to $6.5MM on this deal, has been with the Bucs since 2018. The former Chiefs draftee will collect $2.25MM in guarantees on his latest Bucs contract.

Nunez-Roches played a career-high snap rate last season, starting 11 games for the Bucs and playing 45% of Tampa Bay’s defensive snaps. The Bucs relied on Nunez-Roches more after Vita Vea‘s injury. Nunez-Roches does not have notable pass-rushing abilities, having recorded 1.5 sacks in six seasons, and Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the worst D-tackles last season. But the Bucs have now made him a priority under two coaching staffs, and he has been a part of two strong run defenses over the past two seasons.

The team has not yet re-signed Ndamukong Suh, though given its spree of re-ups, that certainly cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless, they have one of their D-line starters back on a low-cost deal. Suh, however, remains a priority to re-sign, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers To Re-Sign Nunez-Roches

The Buccaneers will bring back one of their rotational defensive linemen. They are re-signing Rakeem Nunez-Roches, per Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio (on Twitter).

Nunez-Roches’ one-year deal is worth up to $2.25MM, per Caplan, who adds the five-year veteran interior defender will receive $1MM guaranteed.

The former Chiefs draftee has been with the Bucs for two seasons, coming to Tampa during Dirk Koetter‘s run and staying on in Todd Bowles‘ 3-4 scheme. He began his career working as a 3-4 player in Kansas City, and Tampa Bay used the 26-year-old defender on 293 defensive snaps last season.

Beau Allen‘s defection to the Patriots earlier this week may open up more time for Nunez-Roches. The Bucs are interested in bringing back Ndamukong Suh as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bruce Arians Talks Buccaneers’ Offseason Priorities

While impending free agent quarterback Jameis Winston may be stealing headlines, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is more focused on retaining his team’s top defenders.

“Oh, yeah. To me, it’s the whole defense,” Arians told ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “You can’t get ’em all, but … those young guys grew. We can’t let that go. I don’t care who’s my quarterback. We’ve gotta have a defense.”

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett is the most notable defender hitting free agency, and he should be in line for a lucrative payday after compiling an NFL-high 19.5 sacks last season. Many of Barrett’s defensive teammates are also set to hit the open market, including players Jason Pierre-PaulCarl NassibNdamukong SuhBeau Allen and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

On the offensive side of the ball, it doesn’t sound like Arians is all that concerned about who’s under center. The head coach did admit that it’s tough to have any clarity on the quarterbacks position considering the uncertainty of free agency.

“You don’t know who’s available,” Arians said. “You just sit there and wait to see, is there someone available. If not, is this a better option. That’s the problem. You get about two days to decide in the legal tampering period.”

One of the team’s options will naturally be Winston, who spent the first five seasons of his career in Tampa Bay. Winston set career-highs in passing yards (5,109) and touchdowns (33) in 2019, but he also set a career-high (and led the NFL) with 30 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Re-Sign Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Rakeem Nunez-Roches is returning to Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers announced that they’ve re-signed the defensive tackle to a one-year deal.

The 25-year-old was waived by the Colts prior to the 2018 season, and the lineman eventually caught on with the Bucs in October. Nunez-Roches proceeded to play in three games for Tampa Bay, compiling a pair of tackles. He’s only a year removed from a 2017 campaign where he started 11 of his 16 games with the Chiefs.

It will be tough for Nunez-Roches to supplant either Gerald McCoy or Vita Vea in the starting lineup, but he should be able to compete with Beau Allen and Stevie Tu’ikolovatu for snaps.

Nunez-Roches is the eighth player to re-sign with the Bucs over the past few days. We learned earlier today that the team was re-signing cornerback De’Vante Harris.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 10/2/18

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • T Andrew Nelson (link)

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

NFL Workout Updates: 9/25/18

Here’s the latest from the workout circuit, all links going to NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted.

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

  • C Dillon Day, T Gerhard de Beer, T Christian DiLauro, DT David Parry (link)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • T Christian DiLauro (link)

Tennessee Titans

Colts Cut Austin Howard, Reach 53-Man Roster

The Colts are at the 53-man roster max after making a bundle of transactions, including the release of offensive tackle Austin Howard.

[RELATED: Colts Cut John Simon]

The Colts invested $1.3MM guaranteed in Howard, but he was medically cleared until late July and struggled in camp and during the preseason. The Colts dangled him in trade talks this week, but there were no takers for him.

Despite his issues this summer, Howard had a solid 2017 with the Ravens and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 36 offensive tackle. If healthy, he could draw interest from other teams.

The Colts also placed defensive end Chris McCain, linebacker Jeremiah George, defensive end Anthony Johnson, and tight end Ross Travis on injured reserve.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Colts’ moves:

Waived:

Last year, Bond ascended to the starting center job when Ryan Kelly broke his foot late in training camp. Unfortunately, a torn quad landed him on IR in October. This year, he’ll be looking for work elsewhere.

Alie-Cox was a former basketball player looking to transition to tight end. Although Antonio Gates and others have successfully made the jump, Alie-Cox has yet to find similar success.

In addition to the aforementioned moves, the Colts also waived the following players with an injury designation. If they clear waivers, then they revert to the Colts’ Injured Reserve list:

AFC Notes: Condo, Colts, Jets, Kendricks

Long snapper Jon Condo spent 12 years with the Raiders, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods along the way. However, the organization moved on from the 36-year-old this offseason, opting to roll with a younger alternative in Andrew DePaola.

While Condo may have 176 games under his belt, he isn’t planning on hanging up his cleats any time soon.

“I’m a free agent right now,” Condo told Mike Boytim of the Altoona Mirror“My first year was 2005, so I’ve been in the league for 13 years. I’m happy with where I’m at, but I’m also hungry to get back out on the field. If a team comes calling, I’m definitely staying available and keeping in shape. I want to make myself ready for the opportunity.”

While Condo had a visit with the Texans earlier this offseason, he understands that his opportunities have essentially dried up. However, he’s still optimistic that a job could open up during the preseason.

“There’s definitely teams interested,” Condo said. “But with me being 36 years old, they want to give the reps to the younger guys. They know what I can do. If they want to see me, they can put on 12 years of film. I’ve spoken with my agent, and he told me a lot of teams are interested in me, but right now it’s a matter of someone getting hurt or a team losing confidence in their guy.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the AFC…

  • While Titans undrafted rookie wideout Deontay Burnett is talented, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com believes fellow undrafted receivers Jordan Veasy and Devin Ross were more impressive during OTAs. When asked which other undrafted rookies could crack Tennessee’s 53-man roster, Wyatt pointed to running back Akrum Wadley and linebacker Sharif Finch.
  • The Colts have a number of talented offensive and defensive linemen on their roster, and Kevin Bowen of 1070TheFan.com writes that the team will have to cut bait with some notable names. For instance, offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark and Jeremy Vujnovich could end up being on the chopping block, while defensive linemen Margus Hunt, Chris McCain, Hassan Ridgeway, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are all fighting for limited roster spots.
  • The Jets signed linebacker Avery Williamson to a three-year, $22.5MM contract back in March, but Brian Costello of the New York Post writes that there’s no certainty he’ll be a three-down player. His former team, the Titans, would take Williamson out of the game during passing downs, but Jets head coach Todd Bowles has expressed optimism that the linebacker will remain on the field in all scenarios. While Costello doesn’t sound all too bullish on that sentiment, he does believe Williamson will end up being a primary pass rusher for his new team.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com lists Mychal Kendricks as the Browns‘ “key linebacker.” The 27-year-old sat out minicamp as he recovered from offseason ankle surgery, but it shouldn’t take long for him to fit in with his new team, as he has the versatility to play any of the linebacker spots. Cabot writes that Kendricks will initially contribute as the “Will” linebacker, although that means he’s behind Christian Kirksey on the depth chart. “Being more in the box, run front, blitzing, covering backs and tight ends from the Will is what he’s done,” said linebackers coach Blake Williams“That’s where he’ll definitely start out from the get-go to make sure that it’s as seamless a transition as possible. As he can take more, we can move him around more, but we want him to have confidence and success to start out with.”