Buccaneers Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/15/21

Here are the latest NFL minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Green Bay Packers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-15-21 (4:13pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Bucs Sign Earl Watford

The Buccaneers have signed offensive lineman Earl Watford. He’ll take the roster spot of guard Alex Cappa, who has been placed on injured reserve with a season-ending ankle fracture. 

Watford was with the Bucs throughout 2019 season, starting in four of his 15 appearances. He’s a favorite of Bruce Arians, having played in 43 games (21 starts) for him in Arizona from 2014-2017 .

The Bucs beat the Washington Football Team on Saturday, but they lose their a starting lineman when Cappa was forced out. Between the regular season and the Wild Card game, Cappa logged 17 starts for Tampa Bay this season. Cappa, in his second year as a first-stringer, helped the unit place second in sacks while aiding the offense to 30.8 points per game, good for third in the NFL.

Watford, in his eighth year, will be eligible to play against the Saints on Sunday.

He can walk in any play four positions for us,” said Arians of Watford. “[We’ll] just get him back in a little bit of football shape; he stayed in pretty good condition. Just like [with] Ted Larsen – guys that have been in this system for a while, veteran players – when you lose a guy, you try to look for veteran players rather than young guys who might not be ready.”

Aaron Stinnie will start in Cappa’s place, but Watford will be on call if needed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/11/21

Today’s minor transactions:

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Bucs RG Alex Cappa Suffers Fractured Ankle

The Bucs snuck past the Washington Football Team in an unexpectedly exciting wildcard showdown last night, but they did sustain one major casualty. Head coach Bruce Arians told reporters after the game that starting right guard Alex Cappa suffered a fractured ankle, which almost certainly will rule him out for the remainder of Tampa’s playoff run.

Cappa, a product of D-II Humboldt State, has turned himself into an effective NFL O-lineman. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 18th-best guard in the league this year (out of 84 qualifiers), and when he exited last night’s game, his absence was noticeable.

Ted Larsen filled in for Cappa, though as Greg Auman of The Athletic notes, the Bucs could also turn to Aaron Stinnie or Joe Haeg for their divisional round contest against either the Saints or Rams (Twitter link). Haeg is easily the more experienced of the two, as he has appeared in 67 games (38 starts) in his pro career. Stinnie has appeared in 12 games with no starts.

As a fourth-round selection in 2018, Cappa will be eligible for an extension at the end of the year. One wonders if GM Jason Licht will consider a new contract for his small school find, or if he will make Cappa sustain his success through a platform season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions, Falcons Expected To Interview Todd Bowles For HC Vacancies

Todd Bowles will apparently be a popular name on the head-coach circuit. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (via Twitter) that the Lions requested an interview with the Buccaneers defensive coordinator. The interview hasn’t been scheduled as the two sides await the outcome of Tampa Bay’s playoff game tonight. Garafolo notes that Bowles is also expected to meet with the Falcons about their head coach opening.

Following his stint as HC of the NYJ, Bowles caught on as the defensive coordinator down in Tampa Bay in 2019. His first season in the role saw the unit rank sixth in defensive efficiency, and the team improved to fifth in the same metric in 2020. This year’s squad also ranked top-1o in takeaways, sacks, points allowed per game, and yards allowed per game (all despite having only one Pro Bowl defender in Jason Pierre-Paul). Of course, Bowles defensive prowess isn’t in question; he previously led stellar units in Arizona, and his Jets defenses weren’t all that bad. What was bad was his record as head coach; in four years with the Jets, Bowles had only 24 wins (and that included a 10-win campaign in 2015).

Both the Lions and Falcons are searching for new head coaches following in-season firings to Matt Patricia and Dan Quinn (respectively). Both teams have interviewed Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy and Titans OC Arthur Smith, and they’re both considering their interim coaches (Darrell Bevell and Raheem Morris, respectively). Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has also emerged as a candidate for both jobs.

For Tampa Bay, it’s sounding like the coaching staff could be seeking a new defensive coordinator once their season has come to an end. Greg Auman of The Athletic opines (on Twitter) that defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers or linebackers coach Larry Foote could take over in Bowles’ stead, although Auman also cautions that either of those coaches could join Bowles’ staff if he’s hired elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/8/21

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

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Bucs’ Rob Gronkowski Unsure About Retirement 

Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski says he isn’t sure if he’ll return for another year of football (Twitter link via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times). With that in mind, the Bucs’ upcoming game against the Washington Football Team could be his last.

[RELATED: Bucs Sign Bucannon To Practice Squad]

It’s just the start of playoffs right now. There’s always a time for that,” Gronkowski said.

Gronk plans to make the call roughly one month after the season ends. His first retirement came in the spring of 2019, citing physical pain and a lack of motivation. In his return to Tampa Bay, Gronk seems to have healed on both fronts. The 31-year-old has played in every game for the Bucs, catching 45 passes for 623 yards and seven scores. Those numbers aren’t as gaudy as his Pro Bowl years with the Patriots, but it’s clear that he still has plenty left in the tank.

It stands to reason that Gronk will want to continue playing alongside Tom Brady, but he won’t be bound to the Bucs either. The future Hall of Famer will be an unrestricted free agent in March, allowing him to play anywhere he wants — if he plays at all.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Add LB Deone Bucannon To Practice Squad

Deone Bucannon has landed back in Tampa Bay. The team announced that they’ve signed the linebacker to their practice squad. To make room, the team released guard Nick Leverett from the practice squad (via The Athletic’s Greg Auman on Twitter).

Linebacker Devin White remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and it’s uncertain if he’ll be able to suit up for Saturday’s Wild Card matchup against Washington. At the very least, Bucannon will provide Tampa Bay will some extra depth at the position during practice this week. At the very best, Bucannon could find himself elevated to the roster, with Scott Smith of the team website noting that the veteran is a “candidate” for a promotion.

Bucannon, 28, has plenty of experience with the Buccaneers’ defense, having played five games for the team in 2019 and played four seasons under Bucs head coach Bruce Arians in Arizona. The linebacker split his 2019 campaign between the Buccaneers and Giants, compiling 28 tackles in 14 games. It’s been a while since Bucannon was a full-time starter, but he averaged 71 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 forced fumbles, and three passes defended in 14.3 games per season between the 2014 and 2017 campaigns.

Leverett was a four-year starter at North Carolina Central University and Rice. He joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent back in April, and he landed on their practice squad in September.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Activate LB Shaquil Barrett From Reserve/COVID-19 List

Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett is expected to be in uniform for this weekend’s Wild Card playoff game against Washington. The team announced today that they’ve activated Barrett from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

We learned last week that linebacker Devin White had tested positive for COVID-19, and Barrett subsequently landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a close contact. White’s positive test ultimately sidelined both players for Week 17, and while Barrett will surely be back on the field this weekend, there’s still no definitive word on White’s status (it was initially assumed that he’d miss the contest).

Following a 2019 campaign where he compiled 19.5 sacks, Barrett had another solid showing in 2020. The former undrafted free agent ultimately finished the regular season having compiled 57 tackles, eight sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles.

Barrett was slapped with the franchise tag last offseason. Barring another tag, Barrett should be able to secure a long-term deal as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Defensive lineman Steve McLendon was also placed on reserve/COVID-19 list alongside Barrett and White last week. There’s been no update on his status.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.