Buccaneers Rumors

Kwon Alexander Wants To Re-Sign With Bucs

  • Impending free agent linebacker Kwon Alexander has already met new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and wants to re-sign with Tampa Bay, as he told WDAE-FM (link via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times). Alexander doesn’t think the Bucs’ likely shift to a 3-4 front under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would be a hindrance to his play. “Man, I’m a baller, period,” Alexander said. “I’m going to get to the ball whatever scheme it is. If it’s 4-3, 3-4, I know how to make plays and that’s what I’m going to do if I’m in there.” From a contractual standpoint, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com recently reported that Tampa Bay had no intention of paying Alexander $10MM per year even before he tore his ACL last October.

Buccaneers Sign RB Andre Ellington

The Buccaneers signed running back Andre Ellington, according to a team announcement. The deal reunites the former Cardinals tailback with Bruce Arians, who has taken over as the Bucs’ head coach. 

Ellington may have a chance to compete for the club’s third-down back role, a spot that is up for grabs as Jacquizz Rodgers approaches free agency. Ellington was once a regular in Arizona’s backfield, but he was not in football in 2018.

The 30-year-old has a reputation as a solid pass catcher and, at one point, the Cardinals considered transitioning him to the wide receiver position. In 2014, Ellington collected a career-high 46 catches. In 2017, his last NFL season, he had a total of 39 grabs for the Cardinals and Texans.

Ellington was largely overshadowed during his Arizona tenure, but he did average 4.2 yards per carry under Arians. If he can prove that he still has something left, he may have an opportunity to get his career back on track in Tampa.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Considering Donovan Smith Tag?

  • Although Pro Football Focus had not viewed Donovan Smith as an upper-echelon tackle, the Buccaneersfront office has held him in higher regard. Even as the team shifts to Bruce Arians calling the shots on the sideline, keeping Smith off the market may still be on the table. Indications point to the Bucs placing the franchise tag on Smith if no deal can be reached before then, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The 2019 tag for offensive linemen is expected to come in at just more than $14MM. Were Smith to reach the market, he could command a lucrative deal. Although, with only three tackles making $14MM per year, it would be a stretch for the Bucs’ four-year left tackle starter to exceed that total — the annual offensive line sellers’ market notwithstanding.

Latest On Kwon Alexander's Market

  • Despite the torn ACL that ended Kwon Alexander‘s season in October, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com believes Alexander will cash in, though it may not be with the Buccaneers. Laine says that Tampa Bay was not willing to pay $10MM per year for Alexander even before the ACL tear, though she believes that other teams will be happy to hit that figure. Given that Alexander appears to be progressing well in his recovery, Laine thinks his market will be robust (Twitter links).

Mutual Interest Between Bucs, Matt Bryant

Before Matt Bryant‘s 10-year Falcons tenure, he established himself as a reliable NFL kicker during a four-year Tampa Bay stay.

Bryant is interested in returning to the Buccaneers, and the 17-year veteran’s former team is “definitely” interested in bringing Bryant back, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.

The Falcons will not pick up Bryant’s option for 2019, sending him toward free agency. The Bucs cannot sign him until March 13, when his contract expires, since this is an option-based departure rather than an outright release. But after several years of issues at kicker, the Bucs may have a solution planned.

They are definitely an option,” Bryant said, via McClure. “I could definitely [see myself] going back there to play. Bucs special teams coach Keith [Armstrong] knows me, and I know him. We’ve worked together. There’s a strong familiarity. I mean, there are all kind of things that go into this.”

The Bucs hired Armstrong this offseason. He was the Falcons’ special teams coordinator from 2008-18.

Bryant, who kicked for the Bucs from 2005-08 and still has a house in Tampa, will turn 44 in May and missed three games due to injury last season. But he made 20 of his 21 field goal attempts, including four from beyond 50 yards. The 95.2 percent success rate was the best of his career.

The Bucs went through two kickers last season — Chandler Catanzaro and Cairo Santos, who combined to make 20 of 27 field goal tries — and used two more (Nick Folk and Patrick Murray) in 2017. Folk beat out Roberto Aguayo in training camp that year. Aguayo has not kicked in an NFL game since missing nine field goals as a rookie. The 2015 Bucs used two kickers as well, Connor Barth and Kyle Brindza. Bryant obviously has a much better track record than this group over the past several years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Cut Vinny Curry

Vinny Curry is now on the open market. The Buccaneers released the veteran defensive end on Tuesday, according to a team announcement. 

Curry earned $6.5MM with the Bucs in 2018 after signing a three-year, $23MM deal with the club. Apparently, new head coach Bruce Arians did not see him as a fit for his system, so he’s a free agent once again.

The good news for Curry is that pass rushers are continually in high demand, so he’ll have an opportunity to land another multi-year deal. His 21 tackles, 2.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits, and five tackles for loss don’t exactly jump off of the page, but Curry’s 2017 season with the Eagles showed serious promise. After serving as a reserve in his first five seasons with Philly, he was promoted to the starting lineup that year and helped the Eagles capture a Super Bowl ring.

All in all, the Buccaneers improved from a league-low 22 sacks in 2017 to 38 last year, thanks in part to Carl Nassib‘s 6.5 QB takedowns. They’ll look to improve that number even more under Arians.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Examining Free Agent Targets For Bucs

Bucs To Transition To 3-4 Defense Under Todd Bowles

  • As expected, the Buccaneers will transition to a 3-4, one-gap defense under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Laine looks at how the Bucs could deploy their current personnel to mirror Wade Phillips‘ success in transitioning two 4-3 defenses to 3-4 schemes.

Rams On DeSean Jackson’s Radar

DeSean Jackson posted two 1,000-yard seasons when working with Sean McVay in Washington, and the veteran wide receiver was candid about seeking a reunion with the wunderkind play-caller.

A potential Buccaneers cap casualty — though, Bruce Arians appears to want the deep threat to stay — Jackson may end up back on the market. He expressed interest in joining the Rams.

If anything, I would like to kind of end up in L.A., being a Ram,” Jackson said during an appearance on the Simms and Lefkoe podcast (Twitter link). “Sean McVay, you know, we got some connection from when I was in D.C., but we’ll see how it plays out, man. Right now, I got another year in Tampa. So we’ll see how it plays out, man.”

As for the Rams reciprocating said interest, that seems like a stretch. Los Angeles made several splashy moves last year, setting the market at multiple positions and extending Brandin Cooks. Not only does the 25-year-old cover some of the same bases Jackson would, the Rams also have Robert Woods on a veteran contract. Cooper Kupp is due back in 2019 as well. Their repeated big-ticket additions notwithstanding, the Rams are probably not too eager to add another veteran salary to their receiving corps — unless Jackson would be willing to take a big pay cut.

Jackson, 32, is entering the final year of his Bucs contract. Considering Tampa Bay’s financial situation (barely $12MM in cap space), it would not be a stretch to see the team try to lower Jackson’s $10MM salary. Jackson was not too happy being with the Bucs last season, requesting a trade, and did not mesh well with Jameis Winston. Jackson and Dirk Koetter also clashed at a practice this season, with ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine reporting the since-fired coach took issue with Jackson’s effort during one workout, leading to a verbal dispute between the two.

The 11-year veteran said he wants to play for a team with a coach and a quarterback who understand a veteran player’s needs. Arians may fit that mold, but Jackson certainly seems to think McVay does.

I think like where I’ve been able to come to in my career, as professional athletes having so much success, and early on in our career[s], being Pro Bowlers and being some of the players that have done some things that no other players have done, you kind of create that model and that mold behind that, like, ‘I know what it takes to get the job done,'” Jackson said.

But then you have some coaches that have the old-school mentality, where, ‘You gotta go to practice. You gotta do it this way.’ But we’re like, ‘As long as when Sunday comes in between the white lines we do what it takes, we know what needs to be done.'”

Jackson also said during the interview he does not have an agent right now. He had been with Joel Segal since 2013.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.