Buccaneers Rumors

GM: Tom Brady Made Pitch To Buccaneers

Emerging late in the running and winning the Tom Brady sweepstakes, the Buccaneers are set for one of the biggest publicity spikes any NFL franchise has seen.

The Bucs edged out the Chargers for Brady, but the future Hall of Fame quarterback was interested in signing with Tampa Bay to the point he pitched himself to Bucs management. Brady first spoke to Bruce Arians and Jason Licht about a deal on Wednesday, March 18, and the seventh-year Bucs GM understandably exuded confidence in the team being able to sign the all-time great.

We had a great conversation — Bruce and I — we talked to him for over an hour and a half. And he made it clear in the conversation that he was very, very interested,” Licht said during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine). “It was almost like a recruitment on his part, telling us why it would make sense for him to come to Tampa Bay. The next call we made, we signed him, but it was at that phone call that we realized, that we felt like we had him.”

Licht first contacted Brady’s agent, Don Yee, the moment the legal tampering window opened at noon ET March 16. Two days later, the sides had an agreement in place. By Friday, the deal became official.

Brady signed a fully guaranteed two-year, $50MM deal. He joins a Bucs franchise that has Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. While Brady has been linked to an Antonio Brown reunion for a while, Arians slammed that door. Brady has displayed strong rapports with slot receivers throughout his career — from Troy Brown to Wes Welker to Julian Edelman — but the Bucs are also not expected to pursue another veteran wide receiver.

We feel like there’s a lot of teams that are struggling to find one really good receiver. And we have two really outstanding receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin,” Licht said. “Right now, there is only so much money that can go around. There are no plans to sign any other receiver at this time.

“Antonio is somebody that Bruce has come out and had some words about, and Bruce knows him better than all of us. So right now, I would just say that we’re focused on other areas of our team.”

In addition to Evans and Godwin, the Bucs have 2016 sixth-rounder Scott Miller and 2018 fifth-rounder Justin Watson under contract. Working behind the since-departed Breshad Perriman last season, those two combined for 359 receiving yards in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Agent Notes: Suh, Thomas, Harris

Here are some updates on a number of players’ representation, all reported by Liz Mullen.

  • Ndamukong Suh chose not to sign with an agent prior to his most recent free-agency and instead represented himself when he agreed to a one-year, $8MM deal to stay with the Buccaneers (Twitter link).
  • Draft prospect Jeff Thomas, a wide receiver out of Miami, has decided to change his representation as we approach the home stretch to the draft. Instead of going forward with First Round Management LLC, he will be represented by Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey at Rosenhaus Sports (Twitter link).
  • Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris re-signed with the team on a one-year deal worth up to $3.25MM. However, that did not come before a recent game of musical chairs representing Harris. Ryan Williams of A1 NFL negotiated his re-up in Denver, but he had switched from the National Sports Agency to Rosenhaus Sports in January (Twitter link).

Bucs Notes: Winston, Jefferson, Crowell

Throughout his first season as the Buccaneers’ head coach, Bruce Arians was generally non-committal towards former starting QB Jameis Winston. In one memorable sound-bite towards the end of the 2019 campaign, Arians was asked if Tampa could win with a different signal-caller, and he replied, “With another quarterback? Oh yeah. If we can win with this one (Winston), we can definitely win with another one, too.”

Despite that, Arians recently told Rich Eisen of the NFL Network that he is trying to sell other clubs on Winston (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). “I’ve called a couple teams,” Arians told Eisen. “You’re going to get one of the hardest workers you’ve ever had and a great young man.” 

However, none of the teams that Arians spoke with indicated they were interested in Winston as a starter. And indeed, teams that entered the offseason with QB needs have either filled those needs, plan to stay the course with their current group of passers, or are expected to use a high draft pick on a quarterback. So at this point, Winston will just need to get on a roster and hope that an opportunity opens up.

Now for more on the suddenly interesting Bucs:

  • We recently heard that the Buccaneers’ top QB choices were Tom Brady, then Teddy Bridgewater, then Winston, and Arians confirmed as much in the above-referenced interview with Eisen. “[A Winston re-up] didn’t work out for us only because [Brady] was available and we had [Bridgewater] if that wouldn’t have worked out,” Arians said. “We were going full steam ahead back with Jameis.”
  • After entering the offseason with a ton of cap space, the Bucs have only about $14MM left to spend, as Greg Auman of The Athletic observes, and some of that will be needed to sign the club’s draft picks. Auman takes a look at a few veteran FAs still available that could fit the Bucs’ remaining needs. One such player is safety Tony Jefferson, who played for Arians for four years in Arizona and who would represent a quality veteran presence in Tampa’s young defensive backfield.
  • The Bucs could wait until the draft to fill their need for a pass-catching RB, but if they are unable to do so or unwilling to wait, they could look at Isaiah Crowell, per Auman. Crowell does not have a past connection to Arians but did play for DC Todd Bowles when Bowles was the Jets’ head coach in 2018.
  • DB Ryan Smith re-signed with the Buccaneers several days ago, and Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports says Smith’s one-year deal has a max value of $2.25MM (Twitter link).
  • Even though Brady may want him, the Buccaneers have no intention of signing Antonio Brown.

Bucs Looking For RB, RT In Draft

  • After making the biggest move in franchise history by signing Tom Brady to a free agent deal, the Buccaneers still have work to do in the upcoming draft. Tampa Bay still wants to find a pass-catching running back to work alongside Ronald Jones, while right tackle is also an an area that could be addressed, as Greg Auman of The Athletic writes. The Bucs did sign former Colts offensive lineman Joe Haeg as an option on the right side, but the 27-year-old has only started six total games in the past two seasons.

Contract Details: Davis, Roberts, Haeg

Let’s take a closer look at the details of a few recently-signed free agent contracts:

AFC

NFC

  • Sean Davis, S (Redskins): One year, $4MM. $2MM guaranteed (Twitter link via John Keim of ESPN.com).
  • Seth Roberts, WR (Panthers): One year, $3.75MM (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of ESPN.com).
  • Zach Kerr, DT (Panthers): Two years, $3MM. Unknown incentives available (Twitter link via Garafolo).
  • B.J. Goodson, LB (Browns): One year, $2.4MM. $2.25MM guaraneed. $1.25MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).
  • Joe Haeg, T (Buccaneers): One year, $2.3MM. $1.5MM guaranteed. Up to $1MM available via playtime incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Cedric Ogbuehi, T (Seahawks): One year, $2.3MM. $500K guaranteed. $500K signing bonus (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com).
  • Will Parks, S (Eagles): One year, $1.5MM. $1.375MM guaranteed. $375K signing bonus. Up to $125K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Tajae Sharpe, WR (Vikings): One year, $1MM. $675K guaranteed. $175K signing bonus. Max value of $1.5MM (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Sharrod Neasman, S (Falcons): One year, $950K. $40K signing bonus. Veteran salary benefit (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Joe Walker, LB (49ers): One year, $900K. Max of $75K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Wilson).

Arians: Bucs Will Not Consider Antonio Brown

A reunion between Tom Brady and Antonio Brown already appeared unlikely, and Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has now removed any doubt. Appearing on CBS Sports’ “Tiki and Tierney” show (Twitter link), Arians dispelled any notion that Brown would surface in Tampa Bay.

“Yeah, it’s not going to happen,” Arians said. “It’s just not going to happen. There’s no room and probably not enough money. But it’s just not going to happen. It’s not a fit here.”

When pressed on whether he’d consider Brown on a minimum salary deal, Arians again demurred. “No. I just know him and it’s not a fit in our locker room.”

Brown, of course, hasn’t played football since Week 2 of the 2019 regular season, but he’s been linked to Brady on multiple occasions. The former Patriots signal-caller reportedly objected when New England released Brown last season following recurring off-field issues, leaving the club devoid of on-field weapons.

Arians previously worked with Brown as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator from 2010-11. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, don’t necessarily need any help at wide receiver; the club already boasts arguably the NFL’s best pass-catching duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/25/20

Here are today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

 

NFC South Notes: Hill, Brate, Walker

The Saints expect Taysom Hill to take over for Drew Brees when Brees calls it a career, and to that end, they placed a first-round RFA tender on the BYU product earlier this month. Teddy Bridgewater had served as the backup to Brees over the past couple of seasons while Hill’s role as a gadget player grew, but head coach Sean Payton confirmed that Hill will be the QB2 in 2020. “He’s earned that opportunity,” Payton said (Twitter link via Jeff Duncan of The Athletic).

However, the team still expects to use Hill as a rusher and receiver next season, so Payton said New Orleans will add another QB that will be active on game days (Twitter link via Duncan). The Saints are expected to explore a long-term contract for Hill in the near future.

Now for more from the NFC South:

  • Cameron Brate‘s recent restructure with the Buccaneers is better classified as a pay cut. Per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Brate accepted a decrease in his 2020 salary from $6MM to $4.25MM (Twitter link). The move will keep Brate, a quality red zone target, in the fold for Tom Brady while buying the team a little more cap space.
  • Several days ago, the Panthers beat out several clubs for the services of XFL signal-caller P.J. Walker. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle says Walker’s pact with Carolina is a two-year deal worth $1.565MM, a pretty nice haul for an XFLer who has yet to crack an active roster in the NFL (Twitter link).
  • CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson‘s new one-year deal with the Falcons includes a base salary of $1.05MM and a singing bonus of $137.5K, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets.

Buccaneers To Re-Sign Ndamukong Suh

The Buccaneers will bring Ndamukong Suh back for another season, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The defensive lineman is set to collect $8MM in 2020 on a deal that will allow him to stick with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Suh can collect another $2MM via incentives based on playing time, Tampa Bay’s team defensive performance, and a playoff berth, reports Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Brady Fallout: Bucs, Belichick, Colts, Hoyer]

Suh came to Tampa last year on a $9.25MM agreement – this is a bit of a hair cut for Suh, though he’s made tons of money throughout his career. The former First-Team All-Pro has started in every game he’s ever played – including all 16 last year – and he’s set to play a featured role on the Bucs’ D-Line once again.

Suh is past his prime, but he still garnered outside interest from clubs, including the Cowboys. Earlier today, Dallas picked up Dontari Poe, a deal that may have led him back into the waiting arms of the Bucs.

With Tom Brady on the other side of the ball, Suh might just have an opportunity to win a Super Bowl ring this year. The Bucs’ D closed out ’19 strong, so there’s reason to believe that they can be among the league’s better defenses.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.