Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rumors & News

Ali Marpet To Shift To Center

After spending the first two years of his career at right guard, Buccaneers offensive lineman Ali Marpet will be moving to center, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Marpet performed very well for Tampa Bay last season, grading as the 13th-best guard in the league out of 71 qualifying players, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).

Oct 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard Ali Marpet (74) during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

However, with guard J.R. Sweezy set to return after missing all of 2016 with a back injury, the Bucs are hoping Marpet’s success will continue at center. The team also has veteran centers Evan Smith and Joe Hawley on the roster, both of whom received $1MM bonuses in the offseason – and Hawley performed pretty well himself in 2016 – so it would be easy enough to simply line Sweezy up at left guard and keep Hawley and Marpet where they were last year. But the Bucs apparently have a different vision for the future of their line.

Marpet has snapped before and during practices in case he was ever called upon as an emergency center, but he never even played center in a high school or collegiate game, much less a professional one.

Nonetheless, the 2015 second-round pick out of D-III Hobart College is excited about the transition. He said, “I’m a center. It’s always been in the back pocket. I can still play guard. I know. I’ve played guard. I imagine they’re not saying ‘You’re the starter, no matter what you do.’ But they like the idea, so we’re going to try it.” He and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy believe he could be especially effective in the more confined spaces that a center is required to work in.

Tampa Bay’s line returns almost entirely intact from last season, and despite a couple of moving pieces, that consistency should be a boon to young signal-caller Jameis Winston and the offense as a whole in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Offered Mo Alie-Cox Deal

  • On a conference call with reporters, new Colts addition Mo Alie-Cox said that the Buccaneers, Chargers, and Seahawks were among the teams that also made offers (Twitter links via Stephen Holder of the Indy Star). The former VCU basketball player added that he picked the Colts in part because coach Chuck Pagano reminded him of (former VCU coach) Shaka Smart. Some teams thought Alie-Cox could play defensive end, but he’ll be a tight end with the Colts.

No Jail Time For Josh Huff

  • Buccaneers receiver Josh Huff‘s arrest last November on an unlawful possession of a weapon charge won’t lead to jail time, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Huff, who accepted a conditional plea, will instead get six months’ probation. The Eagles released Huff after his arrest, which occurred in New Jersey, and he quickly signed with the Bucs. Huff ended up appearing in three of their games and catching three passes for 41 yards.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/17

The latest minor moves…

  • Raiders defensive end Denico Autry has signed his RFA tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). The Raiders gave the 2014 undrafted free agent an original-round tender, leading to speculation that he could draw interest from elsewhere. Instead, Autry will return to the Raiders on the heels of back-to-back three-sack seasons. ERFAs Seth Roberts (WR) and Denver Kirkland (G) are also back in the fold, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter).
  • The Seahawks have re-signed linebacker Kache Palacio, writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Palacio, a former fullback who went undrafted out of Washington State last year, spent most of 2016 on Seattle’s practice squad.
  • Lions ERFAs Brandon Copeland (DE), Kerry Hyder (DT) and T.J. Jones (WR) have signed their tenders, tweets Birkett. Dolphins ERFAs Mike Hull (LB) and Anthony Steen (C) did the same earlier Monday, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Earlier updates:

  • The Panthers have re-upped restricted free agent guard Andrew Norwell and a pair of exclusive rights free agents – center Tyler Larsen and punter Michael Palardy – writes Bryan Strickland of their website. Carolina used a second-round tender on Norwell, who will earn $2.746MM in 2017. Norwell combined for 29 starts over the previous two seasons and ranked 11th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 72 qualified guards last year.
  • Steelers RFA cornerback Ross Cockrell has inked his original-round tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Cockrell went in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, so the Steelers would have been entitled to a fourth-rounder had Cockrell signed elsewhere and they elected against matching the offer. The 25-year-old caught on with the Steelers in 2015 and has since totaled 31 appearances, 23 starts and two interceptions. Cockrell started in every Steelers game last year, and his performance ranked an improve 28th among 111 qualified corners at PFF.
  • Chiefs RFA kicker Cairo Santos has signed his tender, per Schefter (on Twitter). Santos, undrafted in 2014, received a low tender; as such, Kansas City wouldn’t have been entitled to compensation had he gone elsewhere. The three-year veteran has connected on 84.3 percent of field goal attempts, including 88.6 percent last season (good for fifth in the league).
  • Lions offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas has signed his RFA tender, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The Lions assigned Lucas an original-rounder tender last month, so they wouldn’t have gotten a pick had the 2014 undrafted free agent signed elsewhere and they chose not to match. Lucas is now slated to make $1.797MM this year in Detroit, where he has started in six of 35 career appearances.
  • The Buccaneers have re-signed quarterback Ryan Griffin, cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, tight end Cameron Brate, linebacker Adarius Glanton, and wide receivers Adam Humphries and Freddie Martino, per Scott Smith of the team’s website. As a restricted free agent, Griffin is the only one of the bunch who could have potentially gone elsewhere (the rest were exclusive rights free agents). The Bucs tendered the 2013 undrafted free agent at an original-round level last month, and he’ll now try to win the No. 2 role behind Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay’s previous second-stringer, Mike Glennon, is now the Bears’ starter.
  • RFA defensive back Marcus Burley and ERFA running back George Atkinson III are returning to the Browns, per a team announcement. Burley, undrafted in 2013, received an original-round tender. The former Seahawk is coming off his first year in Cleveland, where he appeared in 12 games and played just under 40 percent of the Browns’ special teams snaps.
  • Fullback Tommy Bohanon and receiver Larry Pinkard have signed with the Jaguars, tweets the team’s account. Bohanon is the only with NFL experience, having logged 36 appearances and 14 starts as a Jet from 2013-15.
  • Speaking of the Jets, they have re-signed linebacker Julian Stanford (via Randy Lange of the team’s site). The Jets could Stanford on Friday, but both sides knew that was only a procedural move. Last season was the first as a Jet for the 26-year-old Stanford, who appeared in nine games (two starts) and played about a quarter of their defensive snaps and a third of their special teams snaps.

Bucs Exercise Mike Evans’ Fifth-Year Option

The Buccaneers have exercised wide receiver Mike Evans‘ 2018 fifth-year option, general manager Jason Licht announced today."<strong

While the NFL hasn’t yet announced the fifth-year option figures for 2018, wide receivers selected within the top-10 picks will earn $12.268MM for the 2017 campaign, so Evans figures to rake in slightly more under the terms of his option. That salary made the decision an easy one for Tampa Bay, and the club is interested in inking Evans to a long-term deal, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Evans, 23, has lived up to his draft status since being chosen with the seventh overall pick in 2014. He’s topped 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first three NFL seasons, and posted his best overall campaign in 2016. Last year, Evans put up 96 receptions for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 2016 Pro Bowler will count for roughly $4.6MM on the Buccaneers’ salary during the upcoming season.

Evans becomes the fifth member of the 2014 draft class to see his fifth-year option be picked up, joining Jadeveon Clowney (Texans), Aaron Donald (Rams), Kelvin Benjamin (Panthers), and Zack Martin (Cowboys).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys, Falcons, Bucs Eyeing Justin Evans

Texas A&M Justin Evans has a strong chance of being selected in the back end of the first round of the draft, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, and the Cowboys, Falcons, and Buccaneers are among the NFL teams with the most interest in the defensive back prospect.Justin Evans (Vertical)

Evans has met with both Dallas and Atlanta, per Pauline. The Cowboys saw a high percentage of their defensive secondary leave during the free agent period, and two of their top three safeties — Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox — signed multi-year deals with rival clubs. The Falcons, meanwhile, may view Evans as an improvement over incumbent defender Ricardo Allen, as Evans would give head coach Dan Quinn an Earl Thomas-esque defender, per Pauline. Dallas and Atlanta hold the No. 28 and No. 31 picks, respectively.

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, likely won’t let Evans get past them in second round, where they own the No. 50 selection. Tampa Bay inked Wilcox last month, but could still use more depth in a safety group that was among the league’s worst in 2016. Chris Conte, Keith Tandy, and Ryan Smith comprise the remainder of the Bucs’ safety depth chart.

Evans has also met with the Dolphins during the predraft process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vincent Jackson Interested In Bucs Reunion

Free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson has fielded inquiries from interested NFL clubs, but it sounds as though he’d prefer to return to the Buccaneers. Appearing on 620 WDAE Friday, Jackson maintained that while he isn’t currently working on a deal with Tampa Bay, he feels he’d be a solid fit in Dirk Koetter‘s offense.Vincent Jackson

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“I’m just going to wait until the right opportunity presents itself,” Jackson said (link via JoeBucsFan.com). “I’m assuming it may be later this spring/early summer when people can kind of evaluate their roster, get through the draft, and know exactly what they need and what the value is. For me man, I’m being patient.”

Jackson, 34, appeared in only five games for the Buccaneers in 2016 after suffering an ACL injury. During that time, he caught 15 of 32 targets for 173 yards and zero touchdowns. Tampa Bay reportedly discussed a potential reunion with Jackson, but general manager Jason Licht hinted last month that Jackson’s time with the club may be over.

“We did have conversations with Vincent,” Licht said. “I have the utmost respect for him. Everybody in the organization does. In my mind, in head coach Dirk [Koetter’s] mind, in the owners’ minds, he’ll be a Buc for life. So whatever happens happens, but we’ll always want Vincent to be around the organization.”

The Buccaneers already added another veteran receiver this offseason, inking DeSean Jackson to a three-year deal worth $33.5MM. He’ll pair with Pro Bowler Mike Evans to give Tampa Bay a solid starting pass-catching tandem. The rest of the Bucs’ wide receiver depth chart is comprised of Adam Humphries, Josh Huff, Freddie Martino, Donteea Dye, and Bernard Reedy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

FSU RB Dalvin Cook’s Stock Slipping?

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is continuing to tumble down draft boards due to off-field concerns, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). NFL clubs are reportedly worried about the group of advisers surrounding Cook, and aren’t confident he’ll be able to remove himself from questionable personal ties that litter his past.Dalvin Cook (Vertical)

[RELATED: Leonard Fournette A Candidate To Go No. 1?]

This isn’t the first time Cook’s character concerns have come to the surface, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com recently reported that teams are being scared off by Cook’s off-field issues. But clubs are also apprehensive of Cook’s “inconsistent” workout performances, per Cole. As I noted in PFR’s first 2017 mock draft, Cook tested in the seventh percentile in SPARQ score, a metric that analyzes athleticism. Given that NFL teams are already wary of selecting running backs early in the draft, Cook’s disappointing athletic testing could force him down the board even further.

One club that is keeping tabs on Cook is the Buccaneers, who have now met with him multiple times and sent national scout Byron Kiefer and director of player personnel John Spytek to Cook’s Pro Day in March, reports Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Tampa Bay’s backfield is in flux given the murky status of Doug Martin, who is suspended for the first three games of 2017. But Martin is attending Buccaneers workouts and is reportedly “all good” following a rehab stint, which may lessen the need for Tampa to spend a draft pick on a runner.

Other teams that have met with Cook during the predraft process include the Eagles, Browns, Jaguars, 49ers, Bengals, and Redskins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dalvin Cook Visiting Buccaneers

  • Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is on his way to Tampa Bay to visit the Buccaneers, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Cook, who was college teammates with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston in 2014, joins Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon as the second draft-bound runner Tampa Bay has eyed in the past week. Cook figures to come off the board in the first round. The Buccaneers are slated to pick 19th.

Six Teams To Meet With Mo Alie-Cox

The jump from basketball to football may not be easy, but Mo Alie-Cox has plenty of believers in the NFL. The former Virginia Commonwealth University forward is already slated to visit the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Jets, Colts, Seahawks, and Chargers, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. More teams could request to meet with the 6’7″ athlete, Rapoport adds. Mo Alie-Cox (vertical)

Alie-Cox held an open audition for NFL teams recently and it seems like more than half the league had scouts in attendance. In addition to the aforementioned clubs, reps from the Bears, Lions, Dolphins, Vikings, 49ers, Browns, Patriots, Redskins, and Steelers were in the house (via Lane Casadonte of WTVR on Twitter).

Despite his lack of gridiron experience, teams are intrigued by Alie-Cox’s combination of size and athleticism. He is looking to play tight end and follow in the footsteps of Tony Gonzalez, Julius Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, and other TE standouts with basketball backgrounds. At the same time, he is open to playing other positions and he took requests from scouts to perform drills that were suited for different roles.

What really sets Alie-Cox apart from other young NFL hopefuls is that he is not draft eligible and, therefore, can be signed as a free agent. A team that is really high on the hoopster could see this as an opportunity to effectively acquire a late-round draft pick for nothing.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.