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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs already shuffling roster on short week

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off a humbling lost to the mediocre-at-best 49ers team Sunday, the Bucs are now scrambling to make roster moves, as they prepare on a short week to travel and play Carolina Thursday night. And the team, is moving on from two of its starters a year ago in the process.

First Tampa Bay is placing safety Justin Evans on injured reserve due to his lingering foot and achilles problems. Buccaneers beat reporter for The Athletic, Greg Auman, had details on the corresponding move the Tampa Bay would be making:

Evans, a former second round pick, has been plagued with foot injuries, as this is his third in the just two seasons. At the end of his rookie season, the Bucs put him Injured reserve after injuring his ankle against the Atlanta Falcons after making six combined tackles. He started 10 games a year ago and has 19 starts in his two seasons.

In Week 10 of the 2018 season, Evans injured his toe, and missed the next two games. In his first game back in Week 13, he was carted off the field in the second quarter after aggravating the toe injury. He missed two more games before being placed on injured reserve.

The Buccaneers have two other young safeties they’ve been counting on with Evans injured during preseason in Jordan Whitehead, who led them in tackles with eight in Sunday’s loss and 2019 third round pick, Mike Edwards. Auman further reported Tuesday morning that the team will bring back veteran safety Andrew Adams to help with depth at the position.

Adams was not re-signed as a free agent in the offseason and hooked on with the Lions. They cut him at the end of preseason and now the veteran can come back to the Bucs at cheaper cost after week one. This is because under CBA rules, players on the roster in the first week have their 2019 salary guaranteed.

It’s unlikely that Adams will play Thursday night in Charlotte, but if he were to be out there, he did have a three interception game late last season against Cam Newton and the Panthers.

Meanwhile, the addition of Wells, a former Jaguars tackle, is also motivated by the Buccaneers unhappiness with their offensive line.

That was further magnified when it was reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport later on Monday evening that the Bucs were cutting last year’s starting right guard, Caleb Benenoch.

Benenoch was originally drafted as a tackle out of UCLA in the fifth round of 2016, but played every game a year ago at right guard. He struggled mightily and was regarded as one of the worst interior lineman in football on a team that went 5 – 11.

The new coaching staff led by Bruce Arians and his offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich elected to keep Benenoch on board, as he was in the final year of his rookie contract and he made the 53 man roster. He was active Sunday, but saw no action on offense sitting behind second year guard, Alex Cappa.

Wells is a four-year veteran, who started seven games a year ago and 15 games in 2017 but did not fit into the Jaguars 2019 plans.

The Buccaneers offensive line had issues with the 49ers front for pass-rush Sunday, including multiple penalties, sacks and quarterback pressures of Jameis Winston allowed during pass protection. Tampa Bay’s offense scored only one touchdown, but had four turnovers in the defeat.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off the best pass-rushing season in Buccaneers history, potential free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett was soaking things in Wednesday in Orlando.

That’s where the NFC and AFC top players have congregated for the 2020 Pro Bowl coming Sunday.

Barrett, who set the Buccaneers single-season sack record with 19.5 this past season, ended up being the lone Buccaneer able to play in the game. This, after receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had to bow out due to hamstring injuries.

Barrett got props on day one from one from Cardinals DE Chandler Jones, whom he battled for the sack title all the way down to the final Sunday of the season:

Barrett then got to hangout and sign autographs with the fans assembled at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The sixth year player out of Colorado State, who was originally undrafted but signed with the Broncos in 2014, then told the media, he’s looking for a big-money free-agent deal. And, further, his preference is that he stays in Tampa Bay.

After all, Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectation in 2019, while playing for a modest one-year free agent deal and betting on himself to cash-in. And now, after his agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bucs GM Jason Licht are done, it appears he will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year just like the top pass rushers in the NFL.

The Bucs also have the possibility of putting the franchise tag for 2020 on Barrett which would also be valued around that same amount for just the one season.

One final cool moment came Wednesday, where Barrett got introduced to a young Buccaneers fan who’s enduring tremendous family hardship with one parent battling cancer and another suffering from the debilitating ALS disease. After signing an autograph for the young man, Barrett gave him the surprise of his young life with two tickets to next weekend’s Super Bowl in Miami:

And just like that fantastic reward, Barrett will soon be similarly rewarded for his fantastic year and upcoming potential. And most likely, it will be in Tampa Bay for a long time.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The new present day cliche’ for respect among athletes/opponents in sports is: “Game Recognizes Game.” And, there was a neat example of that Saturday night, as the Houston Rockets of the NBA hosted the L.A. Lakers. That’s when iconic NBA star LeBron James of the Lakers came over to acknowledge Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in the seats behind him.

As you probably know, James is arguably the most recognizable and successful NBA hoops player worldwide in the last 10+ years. He’s a 15 time All Star, a four time MVP, and helped the Miami Heat win two World Championships. And, then came back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who originally drafted him out of high school, and led them to the city’s epic first professional title in any sport in over 50 years back in 2016.

And, LeBron has the Lakers rolling at 34-8 with another win in Houston last night.

As for Evans, he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon and was having a tremendous 2019 season statistically until it was cut short with a hamstring injury in the Bucs early December win over the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s when Evans suffered a severe hamstring injury on a 61 yard touchdown catch from Jameis Winston and did not play another down in 2019. Still, he joined teammate Chris Godwin, as they both went over 1,000 yards for the season, which was the first time in Tampa Bay history that that happened.

Evans is also only the second player in league history, besides Randy Moss, to have 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season in his first six years in the NFL.

Further, it’s also well-known that Evan is a huge fan of the NBA and he’s originally from Galveston, Texas and play in college at Texas A&M. So, it’s only fitting that he would be courtside during the off-season and the Rockets game against the Lakers.

Evans has made mention earlier in his career that he had met and talked to LeBron James on previous occasions. One reason that Evans brought that up during the season, was his touchdown celebration dance when Tampa Bay outgunned the L.A. Rams in late September.

In that 48 – 40 win Evans caught this clinching fourth-quarter bomb touchdown from Winston and then, celebrated with LeBron James’s signature dance move

James has previously and frequently used that on the court after a big moment, a big win or a championship.

Again “Game recognizes Game,” and clearly James wanted to give some recognition to the Bucs star whiteout Saturday night courtside at his own game.

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