Buccaneers Rumors

Cardinals Interested In CB Robert McClain

The Cardinals are among the teams interested in free agent cornerback Robert McClain, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the incumbent Buccaneers are also hoping to re-sign him

[RELATED: Cardinals’ Depth Chart]

McClain, 30 in July, saw time both on the outside and in the slot for Tampa Bay in 2017. He amassed 46 tackles, five passes defensed, three interceptions, and one touchdown – a 47-yard pick six against Mike Glennon during his short stint as the Bears’ starting quarterback.

McClain’s best year came with the Falcons in 2012, though he also had a respectable year with Carolina in 2013 and looked solid last year with the Bucs. He could help to fortify the Cardinals depth chart as cornerbacks Tyvon Branch, Tramon Williams, and Justin Bethel remain in free agency limbo. Of course, the Cardinals are also without Tyrann Mathieu, who signed with the Texans after being released in a cap-driven move.

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How Jets-Colts Trade Could Impact Bucs

  • The Colts-Jets swap, combined with the Buccaneers‘ signing of Ryan Jensen, could result in a top-five prospect falling to Tampa Bay, which holds the No. 7 overall pick, as Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes. Laine examines a few scenarios that could lead to a player like NC State’s Bradley Chubb or Penn State’s Saquon Barkley dropping into the Bucs’ laps.

Buccaneers To Sign Vinny Curry

The Buccaneers are moving fast. Minutes after their release of Robert Ayers, the team is set to sign Vinny Curry.

Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports the Bucs are adding Curry, whom the Eagles released late this week, on a three-year deal worth $27MM with $11.5MM guaranteed.

Curry made 16 starts last season for the Super Bowl champions, the first 16 of his career, and played a key role in Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl title run. The Bucs have now added two pieces from Philly’s defensive front, with Curry joining Beau Allen. They’ve also added Mitch Unrein in what’s been a major effort to overhaul the Gerald McCoy-centered unit.

Set to turn 30 in June, Curry will land on his feet. The Eagles were slated to pay him $9MM this season as part of the previous extension he signed in 2016. Now, he’ll get that from the Bucs per year.

Curry ranked 21st among Pro Football Focus’ edge defender grades last season, 11 spots behind Ayers, and will be expected to provide an outside pass rush to complement McCoy’s nearly unparalleled interior-pursuit abilities. Curry’s best season (2014, nine sacks) came in a 3-4 defense as a rotational player who played on just 32 percent of Philly’s snaps, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). He will likely be utilized more as a pure pass rusher since the Bucs do not have the edge-rushing depth the 2017 Eagles did.

So, Michael Bennett replaced Curry and now Curry will take over for Ayers. It figures to be a matter of time before Ayers lands elsewhere.

[RELATED: Buccaneers Depth Chart]

Buccaneers Release Robert Ayers

Robert Ayers will not see a third season with the Buccaneers. The team has made the decision to release him, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

The Bucs signed Ayers during the 2016 free agency period. He was due to make $6MM this season, but Tampa Bay won’t be charged with any dead money for cutting bait on a three-year agreement after two seasons.

Despite Ayers having completed his age-32 season, he remained a high-end producer in Tampa. Pro Football Focus graded the defensive end as the No. 10 edge defender in the league last season. He produced both as a pass rusher and a run defender, but Tampa Bay will turn to a younger player to replace him. Vinny Curry will join the Bucs, following Beau Allen, Will Clarke and Mitch Unrein in what’s looking like a near-total revamp around Gerald McCoy.

A former Giants and Broncos cog with experience as an end in 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, Ayers figures to generate interest on the open market. Although, he wasn’t especially durable with the Bucs, playing in just 10 games in each of his two seasons. His sack total plummeted from 9.5 with the 2015 Giants to six with the ’16 Bucs to 2.5 last season.

Ayers will be set for a 10th NFL season if he signs elsewhere.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 3/16/18

Here are today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Jacksonville Jaguars

Minnesota Vikings

  • Re-signed: DT Dylan Bradley

Oakland Raiders

  • Signed: P Colby Wadman

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers Sign C Ryan Jensen

The Buccaneers fortified their front five on Friday, signing former Ravens center Ryan Jensen, Mike McCartney, the player’s agent, tweets

NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports the contract is a four-year deal for $42MM with $22M in guaranteed money (Twitter link). The deal made Jensen the highest-paid center in the league and suggests that Ali Marpet will move back to guard in 2018.

That’s quite the haul for Jensen, who played his first three seasons in the league as a guard before switching to center in 2017. He proved up to the task in his first season at the position, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 center in the league. With Weston Richburg off the board, Jensen was the best pure center remaining on the open market.

Jensen was inactive for all 16 games as a rookie and was waived in his season before returning to the Ravens practice squad. He played just 19 games in his first four seasons before enjoying his breakout campaign in the middle of Baltimore’s front five in 2017.

The addition of Jensen should help open up some running lanes in Tampa Bay. In 2017, Peyton Barber led the team in rushing yards with a measly 423 yards. Kickstarting the rushing attack will help open up things through the air for Jameis Winston and Mike Evans.

[RELATED: Buccaneers Depth Chart]


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Saints To Re-Sign Alex Okafor

Alex Okafor is back with the Saints. New Orleans has re-signed the pass rusher to a two-year deal worth up to $10MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

Okafor visited the rival Buccaneers this week, but wound up staying put. That was Okafor’s only known outside visit and it’s quite possible that his list of suitors was limited by the torn Achilles that ended his 2017 early. Rapoport hears that he is recovering well from his torn Achilles, though he is still not 100%.

Before the injury, Okafor started in all ten of his games and racked up 4.5 sacks with a career high 43 tackles. He’ll look to turn in a similarly strong performance over a 16-game set this time around.

In addition to re-signing Okafor, the Saints have also added Demario Davis to the front seven.

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Contract Details: Lotulelei, Bradham, Lewis

Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL:

Buccaneers Re-Sign DE Will Clarke

The Buccaneers have re-signed defensive end Will Clarke, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). It’s a minimum benefit salary pact, and Clarke will receive a $700K base salary and a signing bonus of $90K.

The Bengals selected Clarke in the third round of the 2014 draft, but he never lived up to that billing. Cincinnati waived Clarke after he failed to start a game with the club, and the Buccaneers picked him up prior to the 2017 campaign.

Clarke, 26, didn’t make much on an impact in Tampa Bay, either. While he played on roughly a third of the Bucs’ defensive snaps, Clarke posted only 2.5 sacks and graded as the No. 84 edge defender among 106 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Clarke also chipped in on special teams, where he saw nearly 50% playtime.

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Alex Okafor Leaves Bucs Visit Without Deal

Alex Okafor isn’t signing with the Buccaneers… for now. Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter) that the defensive end met with the Buccaneers today but left without a deal. The reporter adds that there’s mutual interest between the two sides.

We heard yesterday that the veteran was set to visit with Tampa Bay. Okafor already had a connection to both general manager Jason Licht and defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, so the pairing makes plenty of sense. However, the Bucs could have some competition for his services. The Saints have interest in retaining their defender, according to Joel A. Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate.

Following four years with Arizona, the 27-year-old joined the Saints last offseason. The 2013 fourth-rounder ended up starting each of his 10 games for New Orleans, compiling 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and a career-high 43 tackles. Unfortunately, Okafor’s season was cut short after he suffered a torn Achilles in Week 11.

Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance last season, ranking him 22nd among 106 eligible edge defenders. Okafor was also listed sixth in our positional free agent rankings.

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