Vita Vea

Buccaneers Activate DT Vita Vea

Jan. 22: The Bucs have officially activated Vea, as Peter Schrager of the NFL Network tweets. Vea will bolster an already terrific D-line and, depending on how much he plays, could provide a major boost to Tampa’s Super Bowl aspirations. In a corresponding move, the team has waived Earl Watford.

Jan. 18: The Buccaneers could be adding significant reinforcements ahead of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers. Tampa has designated defensive tackle Vita Vea to return from injured reserve, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

Stroud adds that the big man in the middle “will begin practicing Wednesday and could be activated for Sunday’s NFC title game.” This is something of a surprising development, as Vea was previously believed to be done for the season after fracturing his ankle back in October. The Washington product had been having a career year before going down, and his injury correlated strongly with a general decline in the Bucs’ defense.

He had ten tackles, three for a loss, and two sacks in five games while regularly eating up double teams before getting hurt. The 12th overall pick of the 2018 draft was up and down as a rookie, but started all 16 games in 2019. He had made another big leap in 2020, so it was a shame to see his season get cut so short.

Stroud noted in a follow-up tweet that the team thinks there’s a “very good chance” he’ll be able to suit up against Green Bay, although a final call won’t be made until later in the week. If he’s able to play on Sunday, it’d be a huge boost for Tampa Bay as they look to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the league’s most efficient offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/28/20

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Promoted: QB Reid Sinnett

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on IR: G Sua Opeta

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Buccaneers Place Vita Vea and Jack Cichy On IR

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers officially placed defensive tackle Vita Vea on injured reserve. The former first-round pick will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken leg against the Bears. 

[RELATED: Bucs Contacted Snacks After Vea Injury]

Vea started in all 16 of the Bucs’ games last year and all five of this year’s contests. Thanks in part to Vea, the Bucs have boasted one of the league’s best run defenses. Playing at the nose tackle spot, he managed two sacks this season to bring his career total to 7.5. One of those sacks came on Thursday night, prior to the season-ending injury.

The injury is unfortunate for obvious reasons, but also for contractual reasons. Vea will be extension-eligible after the 2020 season — he’ll also be light on leverage. The Bucs will probably let things play out, since they have Vea under contract in 2021 at a cap figure of $4.7MM. Meanwhile, Will Gholston and Rakeem Nunez-Roaches will likely take on larger roles up front.

Vea will be joined on IR by linebacker Jack Cichy, who suffered a hamstring injury. Fortunately, that injury doesn’t look like a season-ender and he’ll be eligible to return in as little as three weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs’ DT Vita Vea Out For Season

The Buccaneers suffered a difficult loss at the hands of the Bears last night, and Tampa will now have to forge ahead without one of its defensive stalwarts. Head coach Bruce Arians announced this morning that defensive tackle Vita Vea suffered a broken leg in the defeat and is done for the year (Twitter link via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times).

The 2018 first-round selection missed three games due to injury during his rookie campaign, but he rebounded to play in (and start) all 16 of the Bucs’ contests last year. Tampa has fielded one of the strongest run defenses in the league in 2020, and Vea is a big reason for the club’s success in that regard. He also showed improved chops at getting to the quarterback, as he posted two sacks in his 4+ games this season (including one last night before the ankle injury).

Contractually, it’s an especially unfortunate blow. Vea will be eligible for an extension after the season, and if he had played a full slate at the level he had displayed through the first month, he might have been able to land a lucrative re-up. Instead, the Bucs will likely wait for him to prove himself again in 2021 before considering a new deal.

In Vea’s absence, Will Gholston and Rakeem Nunez-Roaches will likely take on larger roles. Greg Auman of The Athletic says that sixth-round rookie Khalil Davis should also see himself activated on game days (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs’ Vita Vea Out 6-8 Weeks

Buccaneers defensive tackle Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea (also known as Vita Vea) has a sprained LCL that could sideline him 6-to-8 weeks, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Still, the good news is that Vea is said to already be making progress, so the Bucs are not ready to rule him out for the season opener against the 49ers on Sept. 8. 

[RELATED: Buccaneers OL Mike Liedtke Done For Season]

Vea, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2018 draft, notched three sacks and 28 total tackles last season from the interior. This year, the Bucs are expecting big things from him, especially after he had a productive training camp up until the LCL sprain.

Vea has been here before – he missed all of training camp and the first three games of the 2018 season due to a strained calf. Once he’s back, he should form a strong 1-2 duo with new addition Ndamukong Suh.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Ramsey, Texans, Kamara, Bucs

Throughout the offseason, John Dorsey insisted he wanted Duke Johnson on the 2019 Browns. But the Texans‘ decision to offer what will likely become a third-round pick — assuming Johnson plays at least 10 games this season — was clearly a proposal the Browns could not refuse. The consensus around the NFL placed the passing-down back’s value at being worth a fifth-rounder in a trade, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The Browns getting a likely Day 2 pick is, then, quite the haul. That said, the Texans needed help behind Lamar Miller and now have a running back under contract through 2021.

The GM-less Texans had Bill O’Brien running point on this trade. The sixth-year HC spoke with Dorsey and pulled the trigger, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). With O’Brien clearly having a say in the Jadeveon Clowney process, and the team opting not to hire a GM this year, it is not surprising the post-Brian Gaine Texans have him operating in a key personnel capacity. This marks another notable trade between these franchises, who made 2017 swaps in deals that sent Brock Osweiler (and a second-round pick) to Cleveland and Deshaun Watson to Houston. But the parties who negotiated those deals, GMs Sashi Brown and Rick Smith, are out of the picture.

Here is the latest from the South divisions:

  • Jalen Ramsey is under Jaguars control through the 2020 season, thanks to the fifth-year option the team exercised this spring. But the contract-seeking cornerback has not exactly been pleased with the franchise as of late, considering his 2018 team-imposed suspension and the high-end corner still attached to his rookie contract. When asked by Titans tackle Taylor Lewan and former Titans linebacker Will Compton (during the duo’s “Bussin’ with the Boys podcast, via the Florida Times-Union) about where he would like to play if he left Jacksonville, Ramsey responded by saying he would like to go to the Titans or the Raiders. Ramsey is a Nashville-area native and said he would be attracted to Las Vegas. The standout corner, set to play for $3.6MM this season, continues to stir the pot.
  • After going down in a Buccaneers practice this week, Vita Vea will get a knee MRI on Friday, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets. The Bucs hope their second-year nose tackle suffered an LCL sprain, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Vea missed three games due to injury as a rookie.
  • With Mark Ingram out due to suspension to start last season, the Saints played Alvin Kamara on 82% of their snaps. The rest of the way in 2018: Kamara played 61% of New Orleans’ offensive plays. Sean Payton prefers the latter work rate, despite Ingram’s defection to Baltimore, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com notes. “Look, is one player taking exactly Mark Ingram’s reps? I can’t tell you that right now,” Payton said. “And yet I think there’s that presumption that Alvin’s going to get more. And I think our pitch count and how we’ve played and utilized him has been really good.” Kamara received 201 touches in 2017 and 275 last season; he cleared 1,500 scrimmage yards in each. Latavius Murray will be his backfield mate this season. The Saints also added Jacquizz Rodgers recently.
  • The Bucs worked out rookie UDFA defensive lineman Shane Bowman on Thursday morning, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. The Jaguars waived Bowman earlier this summer.

NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Smith, Vea, Cowboys, Receivers, Rams, Okoronkwo

The Buccaneers made a major change this week, firing much-maligned defensive coordinator Mike Smith and replacing him with Mark Duffner. The Bucs’ defense had picked up right where they left off in 2017, and had been an absolute sieve, leading for calls to fire Smith for weeks now. While Bucs fans will be happy that anyone other than Smith is calling the defense, some in Tampa Bay’s locker room apparently were hoping the team would go in a different direction for their interim coordinator.

There “was strong support by the players for Bucs DL Coach Brentson Buckner to take over the defense”, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). It’s notable that the team apparently didn’t go with the players’ first choice, and it will be interesting to watch how things play out with Duffner. His first test will be stopping Baker Mayfield and the Browns this Sunday.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Speaking of the Buccaneers, rookie first round pick Vita Vea will make his first ever start this Sunday, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Vea, the talented young defensive tackle from Washington, will start because Gerald McCoy is missing the game due to injury.
  • While Dallas’ lack of pass-catchers has been one of the biggest storylines in the NFL this year, it doesn’t sound like the Cowboys will be adding outside receiving help anytime soon. Owner Jerry Jones downplayed speculation they’d go after a veteran receiver, saying it’s “hard to do at this juncture, to bring in a position that needs the coordination that you have to have with the quarterback” and adding that “the farther you go into the year, then the harder it is to think about bringing a player in”, per Jon Machota of Dallas News. While Jones insisted the organization is “confident in the personnel that we have here”, it still wouldn’t be surprising if they were ultimately aggressive in the trade market.
  • Rams rookie fifth round pick outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo hasn’t been able to see the field this year as he’s been sidelined with a foot injury, but could be making his return soon. Okoronkwo has been practicing with the team, and the Rams will decide soon when to bring him back according to Lindsey Thiry of ESPN. The Rams’ pass-rush has been lacking this year, and Okoronkwo could potentially provide a big boost. Thiry reports that Rams coach Sean McVay is high on the young edge player.

Extra Points: Davis, Vea, Pats, Lamp, Colts

Prior to Vontae Davis‘ now-infamous halftime retirement, the 10-year NFL veteran cornerback told Bills defensive backs coach John Butler, “I’m done” while he was in uniform late in the first half. This one-sided conversation, per Davis (via The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth), occurred in the final minute of the half. Lafayette Pitts replaced Davis in the game and ended up having to play a larger role after halftime once Davis did not return for the second half.

I didn’t expect them to understand,” Davis said, via Foxworth, of his teammates’ reaction to his abrupt NFL exit. “That moment was shocking to me as well. … My intention was not to hurt my teammates. In that moment, my intuition was telling me I don’t belong on that field anymore.”

The Bills received a roster exemption after the 30-year-old defender’s retirement, and they placed Davis on the reserve/left squad list, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. While Davis sounds about as far away from a player who’d attempt a comeback, his placement on this list would not allow it — with the Bills or another team — this season.

Shifting back to some active NFLers, here’s what’s new going into Week 3:

  • Jack Conklin‘s 2018 debut is unlikely to take place Sunday, Titans insider Paul Kuharsky tweets. In the final part of his recovery process from a torn ACL sustained in January, Conklin appears likelier to suit up in Week 4 against the Eagles than Sunday against the Jaguars. The Titans didn’t have Conklin nor Taylor Lewan in Week 2, but Tennessee’s left tackle has been cleared to return from a concussion he sustained in the season opener. Swing tackle Dennis Kelly, however, remains out. An illness forced Kelly to be hospitalized before last weekend’s game.
  • Another AFC South tackle won’t play Sunday, but Anthony Castonzo‘s second hamstring setback in as many months has not caused the Colts to consider placing him on IR. Indianapolis’ left tackle remains week-to-week in his recovery, Frank Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer, on Twitter). Were Castonzo to land on IR, he would not be able to return for eight weeks.
  • Three Patriots deemed unlikely to play will, in fact, sit out New England’s Week 3 game in Detroit. The Patriots announced Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe are out against the Lions. The team did not declare Marcus Cannon or Josh Gordon out. Cannon returned to practice this week and made progress, pointing to the right tackle’s return.
  • Vita Vea‘s calf strain will delay his debut for another week. The Buccaneers‘ first-round pick is out for Monday night’s Steelers game, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Vea did practice on Saturday, doing so for the first time in a month, so the defensive tackle’s NFL debut appears imminent.
  • The Chargers continue to bring Forrest Lamp along slowly. The 2017 second-round pick has not yet debuted, and Anthony Lynn said (via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times) Lamp isn’t ready for action yet. “It’s just that Forrest was an athletic guard,” Lynn said. “He moved a lot and we pulled him in space. He doesn’t feel that speed yet. He feels like he’s a step behind.” Lamp tore an ACL a few days into his rookie training camp and underwent an arthroscopic procedure in May. The Bolts are already down Joe Barksdale for another week. They’ve been playing guard-tackle Michael Schofield in Lamp’s spot, and Sam Tevi started in Barksdale’s right tackle position last week in Buffalo.

Buccaneers Sign First-Round Pick Vita Vea

The Buccaneers announced that they have signed first-round pick Vita Vea. As the No. 12 overall selection in this year’s draft, Vea will receive a four-year $14.824MM deal with a fifth-year option at a yet-to-be-determined rate. 

The Bucs were extremely high on Vea coming into the draft and placed a top-five grade on the Washington product, GM Jason Licht said recently. The Buccaneers took a chance by trading the No. 7 pick to Buffalo, but they were able to come away with a player they badly wanted while picking up two second round picks.

Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea – or Vita Vea for short – tallied 43 total tackles (5.5 for a loss) and 3.5 sacks in his final year on campus. Although he is considered to be somewhat raw and will have to keep his weight under control, the Buccaneers believe that he can be a highly effective run stuffer in both 4-3 and 3-4 sets.

When lining up in their base 4-3, the Bucs project to start Vea and Gerald McCoy in the middle with Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry bookending them. On paper, the that projects to be one of the most menacing front lines in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Ryan, Vea, Panthers

The $100MM guaranteed in Matt Ryan‘s landscape-changing Falcons extension appears to be fully guaranteed. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (video link) Ryan will see every dollar of this nine-figure allotment, one that will take the quarterback guarantee market to another level. Kirk Cousins‘ previous record of $84MM — more than $20MM more than Matthew Stafford‘s then-record amount from last summer — lasted less than two months. While it would be a good bet Ryan would see all $100MM even if it weren’t fully guaranteed, given the 11th-year quarterback’s reliability and importance to the Falcons, this sets a high floor for the impending Aaron Rodgers extension. This Ryan deal may have been completed as early as March, per Pelissero, but Ryan’s wife having twins in March prompted the parties to delay the talks.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Despite being able to land Vita Vea with the No. 12 overall pick, the Buccaneers placed a top-five grade on the defensive tackle. Jason Licht said during an appearance on Good Morning Football (video link) Vea was slotted at fourth on the Bucs’ board. This made it risky for Tampa Bay to trade the No. 7 pick to Buffalo, with three non-quarterbacks going from Nos. 7-11, but the south Florida franchise landed Vea anyway. Licht said the Bucs ran several pre-draft scenarios centered around the possibility of trading back and still seeing Vea available, but the GM indicated there were a couple of players the team would have been comfortable with at No. 12 if another team chose Vea. One of these could have been Derwin James, a player whom Licht said the Bucs liked “a lot.”
  • A somewhat strange shakeup will occur on the Panthers‘ coaching staff. Curtis Fuller will resign from his post as defensive backs coach, Joe Person and Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer report. The reasoning for this exit is as of now unknown, with GM Marty Hurney telling the Observer “it’s a complicated situation.” Fuller’s been on Carolina’s staff since 2013, serving in various capacities — mostly helping defensive backs. The 39-year-old assistant rose to his most recent role last year after Steve Wilks was promoted to defensive coordinator.
  • Part of an NFL initiative for overseas players being placed on NFC South practice squads, defensive end Alex Jenkins remains with the Saints going into what could be his second year after signing a reserve/futures contract. And the team will again receive a roster exemption, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports (on Twitter). The England native won’t count against the Saints’ 90-man offseason roster and would be an 11th man on the practice squad if he can’t make the team’s 53-man roster out of camp.