Griffin had been with the Buccaneers organization since the 2015 season, but he’s only seen time in a pair of games. After winning a ring last season, the veteran re-signed with the organization this offseason. For the time being, Blaine Gabbert and rookie Kyle Trask will serve as Tom Brady‘s backups.
Mickens is another notable cut, as the 27-year-old served as one of Tampa Bay’s primary return men in 2020. Mickens finished the campaign with 16 punt returns for 99 yards and 14 kick returns for 340 yards.
We’ve got a handful of interesting notes on contracts to pass along, including for several quarterbacks:
The Buccaneers’ quarterbacks room is a bit crowded now with Kyle Trask getting drafted in the second-round. One of Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin will be the odd man out, since Bruce Arians won’t be keeping four signal-callers. “Their new contracts tell you who’s ahead” in the competition to hold Tom Brady‘s clipboard in 2021, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. Auman reports that Gabbert got $1.5MM in guaranteed money, $750K in base salary and a $750K signing bonus. On the other hand, Griffin only got a $75K signing bonus guaranteed. Gabbert has always been Bruce Arians’ guy, while Tampa’s front office has loved Griffin enough to keep him around since 2015. If these financial figures tell us anything, and they usually do, it’s that Gabbert will be back for the title defense while Griffin won’t be.
The language of Aaron Rodgers‘ contract is going to get a lot of attention if his current beef with the Packers turns into a real holdout. Rodgers earned a $6.8MM roster bonus on the third day of the league year, but he hasn’t actually received that money yet since it’s to be “paid concurrently with his 2021 base salary,” former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry tweets. Corry notes that Green Bay has “the right to take fines & any recapture of signing bonus due to a training camp holdout from this money.” There was talk of Rodgers having to pay back that $6.8MM, but it turns out he hasn’t even gotten it yet. The Packers can start chipping away at that the moment he doesn’t show up for mandatory practices.
One last quarterback note. Mason Rudolphrecently got a one-year contract extension from the Steelers to keep him under team control through 2022, and it turns out the team gave him some real money. Rudolph’s new pact with Pittsburgh is worth $5MM for the 2022 season, which included a $2MM signing bonus, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. As Kaboly points out, Rudolph is the only passer the team has under contract for 2022. Rudolph hasn’t exactly looked like a franchise quarterback in his nine career starts, but with Ben Roethlisberger‘s status more than uncertain beyond this year, it makes since why the Steelers would want to make sure they have someone at least somewhat competent under center just in case.
When Trent Browngot traded from the Raiders back to the Patriots, he reworked his contract from having two years and $29.5MM left to a one-year pact for $11MM. Turns out that new one-year deal has some interesting details. The massive offensive tackle’s contract has a series of weight-based incentives, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. The 6’8 behemoth will have earned $150K if he weighed “385 pounds or less on the first day of the offseason program (April 19).” Brown will have an opportunity to earn another $150K if he clocks in at or below 375 pounds on June 1, and another $200K for 365 pounds on July 15. That’s a total of a half million bucks in weight-based incentives. Brown was with the Patriots for one season back in 2018, and won Super Bowl LIII with the team.
Two members of the Buccaneers’ most recent quarterback depth chart are now signed for 2021. Ryan Griffin is back in the fold. The longtime Bucs third-stringer re-signed with the defending Super Bowl champions Tuesday.
Griffin has been with the Bucs since 2015, serving as by far the team’s longest-tenured quarterback. The 31-year-old passer is in line to return for a seventh season in Tampa, rejoining Tom Brady ahead of his second. As Greg Auman of The Athletic points out, no Bucs QB has lasted seven seasons with the team previously (Twitter link). Griffin would certainly make for an unusual first.
As for Griffin, he has suited up for two games in eight NFL seasons. The former Saints UDFA caught on with the Bucs as a 2015 waiver claim. The Bucs tendered the Tulane alum as a restricted free agent in 2017 and have since given him three new deals. Although Licht’s comments give Gabbert a clear path back to the Bucs, Griffin is currently penciled in as Brady’s backup. He stands to see plenty of time in the Bucs’ three preseason games, with Brady unlikely to play much in the league’s revamped exhibition slate.
It sounds like the Buccaneers may need another quarterback. Coach BruceArians said that backup signal-caller BlaineGabbert dislocated his non-throwing shoulder during last night’s preseason win (via The Athletic’s Greg Auman on Twitter). ESPN’s Jenna Laine tweets that it’s not yet known if Gabbert will need surgery.
Arians also added that the team could end up signing another quarterback (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times on Twitter), although the head coach acknowledged that he’s very content rolling with RyanGriffin as Jameis Winston‘s primary backup.
“More than comfortable,” Arians said. “He’s proven with some of the guys he’s playing with, directing them, poise. He’s moved our team up and down the field, just like he did again tonight.”
The Buccaneers signed Gabbert back in March, and his addition was partly attributed to his familiarity with Arians’ offense. The 29-year-old got into eight games (three) starts last season for the Titans, completing 60.4-percent of his passes for 626 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. He previously teamed up with Arians in Arizona, including a 2017 campaign where he started five games.
As Arians mentioned, the team is comfortable having Griffin as Winston’s main backup, and the former undrafted free agent proved his worth last night. Griffin finished last night’s game having completed 11 of his 17 passes for 121 yards and one score.
Ryan Griffin re-signed with the Bucs on a two-year deal. Griffin has been with the Bucs since the Lovie Smith regime, catching on via September 2015 waiver claim, but has yet to play a regular-season down. He will now work with Bruce Arians, his third Tampa Bay HC.
While he has not played beyond the preseason, Griffin has been on the past four Bucs active rosters. He spent time on the Saints’ active roster from 2013-14. The Bucs made Griffin their No. 2 quarterback near the end of last season, but Winston logged all the game snaps during those contests.
A Tulane product, Griffin is set to turn 30 this year. He has a chance to keep that backup job, but Arians may well prefer someone with more experience. Fitzpatrick is a free agent.
Although the Buccaneers could not conjure quite enough FitzMagic to pull off a comeback win against the Steelers on Monday, Tampa Bay will start Ryan Fitzpatrickagainst the Bears this afternoon, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). This was the expected move given how well Fitzpatrick has generally played through the first three weeks of the season and in light of the fact that the team is on a short week this week.
Plus, we heard earlier this month that Fitzpatrick would remain under center for as long as he performs at a high level. But according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter told his team during a meeting on Wednesday that he was “one or two plays away” from lifting Fitzpatrick on Monday night in favor of backup Ryan Griffin. At the time Koetter was contemplating that move, Fitzpatrick had just thrown his third interception and the club was trailing Pittsburgh 23-7.
Koetter, of course, did not end up pulling Fitzpatrick, but the fact that he made his thought process known to his team took some Buccaneers by surprise. Some players simply took Koetter’s words at face value, but some wondered whether he was laying a foundation for Jameis Winston to return, perhaps as soon as Week 6 (Tampa Bay has a bye in Week 5). After all, the team still views Winston as its long-term quarterback, so it stands to reason that he will be under center at some point soon, even if Fitzpatrick continues to overachieve.
Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports that the Bucs will reassess their QB situation during their bye week, and that Koetter has informed Fitzpatrick and Winston of his plans. Koetter said, “We know what we’re going to do. Both guys know what we’re going to do. Hope everybody can appreciate that it doesn’t do us any good to tell our opponents what we’re going to do.”
Winston was not permitted to practice at the team facility during his suspension, but Laine writes that he brought in quarterbacks coaches George Whitfield and John Beck and longtime trainer Otis Leverette to help him maintain the same schedule he had with the Bucs, and the group conducted daily workouts with 25 free agents and former teammates.
Winston’s initiative impressed Koetter, who said, “Hats off to Jameis for putting together a group of guys to do what he did…Jameis is a quarterback, coach and GM all at the same time — perfect. I think there is a little adjustment period, and that’s one of the things we’re trying to move along as quickly as we can.”
Reading between the lines, it certainly seems as if Winston may be starting for the Bucs in Week 6.
The Jameis Winston saga will continue to dominate NFL headlines for the foreseeable future, but life goes on for the Buccaneers, who need to determine who will give them the best chance to win in Winston’s expected absence. The team is currently rostering veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, career reserve Ryan Griffin, and 2018 UDFA Austin Allen.
That is not a particularly inspiring group, and though Fitzpatrick is expected to run the offense while Winston serves his suspension, it would make sense for the team to consider a veteran backup for the 35-year-old (36 in November) Harvard product. However, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times does not believe the Bucs will go that route (Twitter link).
Of course, the free agent crop of signal-callers does not engender much confidence either, as it features the likes of Derek Anderson, Matt Moore, and Mark Sanchez. Plus, as Florida Football Insiders observes, the team seems to have plenty of faith in Griffin, who is entering his sixth year in the league but who has yet to attempt a regular season pass.
Griffin, a former UDFA out of Tulane, has spent the last three years with Tampa Bay and therefore is plenty familiar with head coach Dirk Koetter‘s system. The team intended to give him a thorough evaluation last summer, but he got hurt early in the preseason schedule and was not fully healthy until after the first month of the regular season.
Nonetheless, the Bucs carried Griffin through to their initial 53-man roster before placing him on IR, and the fact that they have kept him around for three seasons has to mean something. Indeed, the above Florida Football Insiders piece suggests that he could challenge Fitzpatrick as Winston’s placeholder in training camp.
The move did not come as a surprise after it was announced starting quarterback Jameis Winston would be sidelined for at least two weeks due to a shoulder injury. Griffin, who was placed on IR after suffering his own shoulder injury in the team’s second preseason game vs. Jacksonville, returned to practice on October 18 and has been throwing for the scout team. He will serve as Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s backup until Winston returns to the field.
In 2013, Griffin was signed by the Saints after going undrafted coming out of Tulane. After spending two seasons on the team’s practice squad and a brief stint on the 53-man roster as a rookie, Griffin was released in 2015 and claimed by the Buccaneers. The fifth-year quarterback has yet to attempt a pass in a regular season game, and completed 4-of-9 passes in the 2017 preseason before being sidelined.
October 20th, 2017 at 8:31pm CST by Dallas Robinson
Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Griffin has returned to practice this week, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Griffin is currently on injured reserve as a result of the sprained AC joint he suffered during the preseason.
Tampa Bay carried Griffin through to its initial 53-man roster before placing him on IR, which means he’s allowed to return to the field following an eight-week absence. As such, Griffin can be activated as early as October 30, the day after the Buccaneers’ Week 8 contest against the Panthers. Tampa has a three-week window during which it can place Griffin on its active roster, meaning the deadline to so is November 8.
Griffin, 27, was tendered at the original level as a restricted free agent earlier this year but subsequently agreed to a one-year extension through 2018 that reduced his base salary for the 2017 campaign. Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane in 2013, Griffin has spent time with the Saints’ practice squad and Tampa Bay’s active roster, but has never appeared in a professional game.