Buccaneers Rumors

Giants Place Will Hernandez On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Giants will face the red-hot Buccaneers without at least one starting offensive lineman. They are placing left guard Will Hernandez on their reserve/COVID-19 list, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

A positive coronavirus test prompted the Giants to then send all but four of their offensive linemen home from their facility Thursday, Pelissero and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport note (via Twitter). Two coaches — defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson and outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema — joined them, according to Rapoport and NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter).

None of the other O-linemen, however, are considered to be high-risk close contacts of Hernandez at this point. That status would allow them to return to the team’s facility by Friday, provided they submit two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests. As for Hernandez, he is believed to be asymptomatic, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post tweets.

Hernandez will be miss the Giants’ Monday tilt against the Bucs, but this situation looks to differ slightly from last week’s development in Las Vegas. The Raiders-Bucs game was rescheduled because the team quarantined its starting offensive line for five days, but Las Vegas placed all five blockers on its reserve/COVID list. As of now, Hernandez is the only Giants player to be placed on their respective list.

Additionally, a Bucs equipment staffer tested positive for COVID-19, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Bucs sent that staffer home, but The Athletic’s Greg Auman notes this has not yet affected players or coaches (Twitter link).

While both teams now have issues to monitor, Monday night’s game is not currently on the verge of being rescheduled. Monday will, however, be Hernandez’s first missed start as a pro. The former second-round pick has been a Giants starter since his debut in Week 1 of the 2018 season.

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Poll: Will The Buccaneers Regret Signing Antonio Brown?

Bruce Arians said it would never happen. Tom Brady never stopped pushing. Ultimately, the future Hall of Famer got his way — the Buccaneers inked Antonio Brown to a one-year deal this week, equipping Brady with the most talented group of targets he’s ever had.

He looks fantastic,” Arians said of Brown, following his first practice in Tampa (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine). “I think we had really good conversations today, he and I. He was in the meetings and everything. And he’s working with…the strength staff. He looks in great shape. Yeah, [he’ll be] ready to go next week.”

The Bucs are hoping that Brown can quickly shed the rust as Chris Godwin recovers from finger surgery. Godwin might not be available for their Week 9 contest against the Saints, setting the stage for Brown to make an impact in his return game.

At the same time, many feel that Brown’s volatility will ultimately backfire on the Buccaneers, who currently lead the NFC South with a 5-2 record.

“Mark my words, it’s going to be a problem,” said one anonymous executive who has worked with Brown. “You have no idea the stories we could tell you about this guy. Everything is a struggle. … There were plenty of valid reasons why [Arians] didn’t want anything to do with him a year ago. Unless this guy has completely reinvented himself, and done a complete turnaround, this is going to get ugly.”

Will Brown’s baggage ultimately outweigh his upside? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

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NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/28/20

Here are Wednesday’s practice squad decisions:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Buccaneers Officially Sign Antonio Brown

It’s a done deal. On Tuesday, the Buccaneers formally inked Antonio Brown to a one-year contract, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets

[RELATED: Reactions To Antonio Brown Signing With Buccaneers]

Brown is officially in the fold, though he won’t be eligible to play until Week 9. His one-year pact will pay just $1MM in base salary and bonuses, with the potential to reach as much as $2.5MM. If the Bucs win the Super Bowl, AB will receive a $750K bonus, and he has three separate $250K bonuses for receptions, yards, and TD milestones. Those incentives are only in play if the Bucs reach the playoffs.

Brown, 32, will be eligible to join the club at their team facility on Wednesday, once he’s cleared COVID-19 testing. He can’t practice until Week 9, but he can attend meetings and train with the team’s conditioning staff in the interim.

There was pushback, but Tom Brady talked Tampa Bay into adding the multiple-time Pro Bowler. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians was insistent that the team would not add Brown. Ultimately, Brady got his way.

The Bucs didn’t necessarily need Brown a few months ago, given their wealth of receiving talent. However, injuries for Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller, and O.J. Howard changed things. There’s reason to worry about the balance of the locker room with Brown, though offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El, and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote all played with the mercurial veteran. There’s hope that, together, they can keep Brown on the right track.

On the field, Brady arguably has the best receiving cast of his career. With Godwin, Evans and Rob Gronkowski, the future Hall of Famer has a wealth of weapons at his disposal.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 10/26/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Atlanta Falcons

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

More On Buccaneers, Antonio Brown

Details are in on Antonio Brown‘s contract with the Buccaneers. His one-year pact will be worth up to $2.5MM, but only $1MM of that is in the form of base salary and roster bonuses. If Tampa wins the Super Bowl, AB will receive a $750K bonus, and he has three separate $250K bonuses for receptions, yards, and TD milestones. However, not only does Brown need to hit those individual marks to cash in, the Bucs need to qualify for the playoffs (Twitter links via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com).

Schefter adds (via Twitter) that Brown will officially sign the contract tomorrow. As Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets, the 32-year-old receiver will be able to enter the team facility Wednesday, after he has cleared COVID-19 testing. Although his eight-game suspension means that he will not be permitted to practice until November 3, the start of Week 9, Brown can attend meetings and train with the team’s strength and conditioning staff.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reiterates that Tom Brady was the driving force behind the Brown signing. Brady, of course, pushed for the Patriots to acquire Brown last year, and though New England released AB after just one game, Brady again lobbied the team to re-sign him in advance of the playoffs.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians — who is familiar with Brown from their time together in Pittsburgh — had repeatedly stated that Tampa would not be acquiring the mercurial All-Pro, and he wasn’t the only team official to express those sentiments. Brady eventually got his way, though plenty are skeptical that Brown will be able to toe the line.

“Mark my words, it’s going to be a problem,” said one executive who has significant experience with Brown. “You have no idea the stories we could tell you about this guy. Everything is a struggle. … There were plenty of valid reasons why [Arians] didn’t want anything to do with him a year ago. Unless this guy has completely reinvented himself, and done a complete turnaround, this is going to get ugly.”

A coach who has worked with Brown said, “All the reasons [Arians] didn’t want this guy a year ago, he knows what’s up with him. And that was before COVID. The stuff he’d do all the time in Pittsburgh — he’d go AWOL, not show up, have no idea where he is … that could (mess up) the entire team, now.”

It does seem like a big gamble for a team that has plenty of receiving talent already, though since the Bucs’ cadre of pass catchers has dealt with a number of injuries this year, it’s easy to see why the club would have interest in reinforcing that group. But from a legal perspective, Brown is not out of the woods just yet. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reminds us, the civil suit that Britney Taylor filed against Brown for sexual assault and rape is set for December, and Brown is due to furnish Taylor’s attorney with complete discovery next week (Brown has received multiple extensions of the discovery deadline).

Developments in that case may trigger additional sanctions from the league, though Brown’s attorneys could request a postponement of an trial in an effort to avoid such sanctions impacting his availability for the Bucs this year.

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Reactions To Antonio Brown Signing With Buccaneers

Antonio Brown is officially a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the two sides have finalized a one-year contract. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that the deal is worth slightly more than a minimum salary, although there are per-game roster bonuses, individual incentives, and team incentives.

Besides Brown’s continued antics over the past year-plus, it’s not overly surprising that he had to settle for this kind of incentive-laden deal. Bruce Arians had previously dealt with Brown when he was the wide receivers coach in Pittsburgh, and the Buccaneers head coach had consistently stated that the Bucs wouldn’t be signing the wideout. Perhaps the low-risk contract has partly swayed Arians’ opinion.

One individual who was clamoring for Brown was Tom Brady. The quarterback is signed through the 2021 season, so if the wide receiver is a productive member of the offense, there’s a chance he could stick around beyond the 2020 campaign.

Here’s some more news and notes pertaining to the AB signing:

  • ESPN’s Jenna Laine writes that Brown’s signing is all about maximizing Brady’s window. While Arians may have previously been against adding the wideout, Laine believes Tampa Bay’s continued offensive injuries (a list that includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller, and O.J. Howard) may have changed his mind. Plus, Laine writes that the “feeling inside the organization” is that Arians has a strong personality that can keep Brown in line, and there’s also Brady’s positive influence. The writer also points out that Brown was teammates with three members of the coaching staff: offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El, and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote.
  • Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic wonders why the Buccaneers are taking the unnecessary risk of signing Brown. Tampa Bay is leading the NFC in point differential, and while that has mostly been thanks to the defense, the offense has been plenty competent. Brown’s talent means he could naturally provide the passing game with a significant boost, but Kapadia thinks it’s more likely that “he’ll be a problem.”
  • Here’s a fun one for fans of conspiracies. Following public reports of the Seahawks interest in Brown, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wonders why Seattle let that information leak in the first place. One argument could be made that the Seahawks “recklessly invited a competitor to swoop in” and sign the wideout, while another argument could be made that the Seahawks deliberately leaked the news. Why would they do that? Florio writes that the Seahawks may have been doing the modern-day version of the Trojan Horse, hoping that Brown’s signing would derail his suitor’s season. In another piece, Florio notes that those “within league circles” wonder if Pete Carroll “repeatedly confirmed interest in Brown in the hopes that someone else would sign” the receiver.
  • Greg Auman of The Athletic explores the 22-month span that saw Brown going from a star wideout with the Steelers to a low-salary, midseason signing with the Buccaneers. The story starts in December of 2018, when Brown was benched for Pittsburgh’s season finale and subsequently missed his exit meeting with Mike Tomlin.

Buccaneers, Antonio Brown Agree To Deal

6:08pm: This moved fast. Brown’s one-year Buccaneers deal is done, Schefter reports (on Twitter). As of now, Brown will be eligible to make his Bucs debut in Week 9 against the Saints.

5:52pm: Brown’s Bucs negotiations are “99% done,” according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud (on Twitter). The former Steelers superstar’s latest chance at reviving his career looks almost certain to occur in Tampa.

5:17pm: The Buccaneers appear to have reversed course on Antonio Brown. They are bringing him in for a visit, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.

While the Seahawks still have interest in the superstar wide receiver, Wilson adds the Bucs are the expected team to land the mercurial free agent. The sides have already begun working toward an agreement, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The Seahawks remain in discussions with Brown, but the high-profile free agent is flying to Tampa tonight. Other teams remain interested as well, though Brown and the Bucs each have “extreme interest” in finalizing an agreement, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

This accord will not cover Brady’s Tampa tenure. While Tom Brady has been pushing for Brown for a while, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports this will be a one-year agreement (Twitter links). Brady is signed through 2021. Though, if Brown can rebound from the span that cratered his career, the Bucs would seemingly have interest in keeping him around next season.

Bruce Arians said shortly after the Bucs’ Brady signing the team was not interested in Brown, despite the quarterback’s push for the four-time All-Pro. Arians said at the time a deal was “not going to happen” and Brown was “not a fit here.” However, the Bucs can be viewed as one of the NFC’s frontrunners and made an all-in move when they signed Brady.

Brown would equip Brady with arguably the best weaponry of his career, upon joining Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski. Arians coached Brown for two seasons when he was the Steelers offensive coordinator, so if Brown does sign with the Bucs, it will be interesting to learn what changed between the Bucs HC’s March comments and now. It could be as simple as Brady having convinced his new coach to sign off on reuniting with Brown. Brady and Brown indeed discussed the prospect of playing together again before the QB’s Bucs agreement.

Brady was reported to be against the Patriots releasing Brown last season. Brown is out until at least Week 9 due to his suspension, and the 32-year-old wideout runs the risk of having his ban increased. The NFL is still investigating Britney Taylor’s sexual assault allegation, and Brown’s civil trial in this case is upcoming.

A Brown signing would carry risk, obviously. Since reeling off one of the greatest stretches in wide receiver history, Brown torpedoed his career with a months-long volatility spree. The Steelers traded him after he essentially no-showed their Week 17 game in 2018, and Brown clashed with the Raiders quickly and did not play a game for the team. The Patriots used him in Week 2 of last season, but after text messages from Brown threatening a separate sexual misconduct accuser emerged, New England became the third team to move on from him in 2019. He then spent 13 months in free agency, a time during which he was arrested in connection of an assault on a delivery driver.

This deal being now heavily reported is interesting; the Seahawks were the team most closely connected to Brown this year. Russell Wilson has stumped for the wideout both in 2019 and this year and worked out with him this offseason. He was still lobbying for Brown at the 11th hour, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Brown spoke with Wilson and Geno Smith about an agreement this season.

Both the Bucs and Seahawks already have strong aerial cadres, but Brown’s brief New England stay with Brady may be enough to give the Bucs the edge. Both Evans and Godwin have battled injuries this season, and Gronkowski is one of the NFL’s most injury-prone players. Brown would also provide insurance — as strange as that sounds — against more Bucs skill-position injuries.

Should Brown sign with Tampa Bay, the team will have the 2010s’ top two touchdown scorers. Gronkowski edged his 2010 draft classmate 78-75 here, and the 2019 season barely factored into these totals. It would be fascinating to see these two team up after not playing (excepting Brown’s four-catch, 56-yard Patriots game) last season. Brady has been inconsistent this season, ranking 19th in QBR. The Bucs having Brown for eight games would certainly help their Super Bowl cause, considering their defense leads the league in DVOA.

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Steve McLendon Knew Of Trade Before Game

  • The Jets dealt nose tackle Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers shortly after their Week 6 game, and in a rare development, McLendon knew he would be a postgame trade piece a day in advance. The Jets interestingly opted not to hold him out of last week’s game. “I got the news on Saturday night that a car would be waiting for me after the game Sunday to come to Tampa,” McLendon said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “I was like, ‘OK.’ Sunday morning, I woke up, I prayed, and I was like, ‘This is one last ride.’ A lot of guys were saying, ‘Man, you’re really gonna play?’ And I was like, ‘Man, this could be the last time I play with y’all in my career.'” The 11th-year veteran will now be tasked with replacing Vita Vea.

NFL Moves Raiders-Bucs Game; Raiders Under Investigation For COVID-19 Compliance

2:56pm: The players the Raiders sent home from the team’s facility Wednesday — Abram, Kolton Miller, Denzelle Good, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson — will be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. These players now qualify as high-risk contacts of Brown and will need to isolate for five days. Their last contact with Brown was Monday, however. That would allow these players — barring a positive test — to play Sunday, though it will sideline them from practice this week. Still, this development probably points to the NFL needing to postpone this game to Monday or Tuesday.

One good sign: no new positive tests emerged from Wednesday’s round of testing, Pelissero tweets. But the issues the Patriots and Titans experienced with the coronavirus illustrate the Raiders have not necessarily turned a corner here.

2:36pm: The NFL is preparing to move the Raiders-Buccaneers game off its Sunday slate, it appears. The league announced Thursday it will shift Bucs-Raiders from a primetime slot to 3:05pm CT Sunday. Seahawks-Cardinals will now be Sunday’s primetime game.

Positive COVID-19 tests for Trent Brown and Damon Arnette have put the Raiders’ Sunday status in jeopardy. Additionally, the NFL and NFLPA are investigating the Raiders for COVID-19 compliance, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

The league has video of Brown and other Raiders offensive linemen congregating without masks, Pelissero adds, and Brown is not believed to have consistently worn his tracking device. He is now on Las Vegas’ reserve/COVID-19 list, and none of the other Raiders told to isolate — the rest of their starting O-line and safety Johnathan Abram — have returned to practice.

This has obviously clouded Sunday’s game. The Raiders have already had their bye week, giving the NFL another major test in this COVID-19-altered season. Brown is asymptomatic, per Pelissero (video link).

The NFL has shifted a few games around this season, but it has thus far avoided postponing a team’s game after a bye week. Las Vegas’ bye came in Week 6. Were the Raiders to see their Week 7 contest postponed to a later date, the league would run into logistical issues getting that contest scheduled. The rumored Week 18 makeup window remains in play, though the league has been able to avoid serious discussions of implementing it. A Raiders postponement beyond Tuesday would push that issue back to the forefront.

Thursday’s schedule change is not the first time the Raiders have run into COVID-19-related trouble. Jon Gruden was issued a six-figure fine for mask violations in September, and Darren Waller‘s charity event last month featured Raiders seen without masks. For now, the league expects Bucs-Raiders to take place in a lower-profile time slot Sunday. But the schedule change makes it easier for another postponement to commence.

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