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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coordinator Bowles on top pick White- “Film speaks for itself”

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles met with the media on Wednesday and covered several subjects, as the team progresses through offseason work. However, the one that had the most interest was the decision making process around drafting LSU linebacker Devin White with the 5th overall pick last Thursday night.

Bowles wasted no time in explaining why White became a favorite in their “War Room” and an obvious choice, when the Buccaneers were on the clock in round one. Bowles said White made the decision easy when they evaluated and interviewed him:

“It was impressive. Obviously, he’s a bright kid, lights up a room when he walks in. The film speaks for itself and to have a player like that, we’re just happy to get him in and to get to work.”

And, on White assuming a leadership role by essentially “quarterbacking the defense,” the former Jets head coach of the last four years, Bowles added,

“It’s important, because you really want a quarterback at every level of the defense: up front, in the middle and in the back. And have one in the middle. Not that Lavonte (David) wasn’t, because he is and he’s a heck of a player. So, we got to him in the middle right now, and that makes me comfortable.”

The Bucs took White with a first-round pick, which is the first time they’ve taken a linebacker in the opening round since Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks was selected near the end of the first round in the 1995 draft.

Now, no one is ready to put White in that category, when he hasn’t even set foot on NFL regular season football field, but still, there is obviously a high anticipation to have him next to the perennial Pro Bowler David.

In addition to talking about White, Bowles also spoke at length about the depth now in the secondary after Tampa Bay used three of their draft picks in the second and the third rounds on Friday night on defensive backs.

This includes having last year’s second-round picks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis with a year under their belt. And, also the Bucs have former number one pick from 2016, Vernon Hargreaves, coming off of injured reserve trying to re-establish himself, as a key contributor in the secondary, too.

Finally, Bowles was asked about Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy not being part of the voluntary offseason program so far and he answered quickly and bluntly, Wednesday:

“That one is above my pay grade.”

That further implies that Tampa Bay appears headed for a “pay cut showdown” with the nine year veteran Pro Bowler.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Report- Bucs have extended GM Jason Licht’s contract

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hoping to practice some form of continuity, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly extended the contract of GM Jason Licht.

This after a report Saturday morning from Bucs beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times, Rick Stroud, that Licht has been given a five-year contract extension to remain with the team:

A big part of the reason why the Glazer family, which owns the team, wanted to keep Licht is: his ability to lure former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to come out of retirement and join them this past January.

Further, Stroud reports that Arians made it a condition of his coming out of retirement that Licht remain with the team long-term and that the Bucs keep embattled starting QB Jameis Winston.

Licht had been given a one-year extension for 2019 before this offseason, and the Buccaneers had already committed to keep quarterback Jameis Winston for the fifth year option of his rookie contract. Then, once former coach Dirk Koetter was fired in January, Licht’s previous relationship with Arians helped the Bucs get their new coach.

Licht was the assistant general manager with the Cardinals, when Arians was hired in 2013 and led them eventually to the NFC Championship Game in 2014.

Licht became the Buccaneers general manager at that the start of that same season, but has had a rocky tenure of results. This includes only one winning season out of five and several free agent moves and draft picks that have backfired.

None bigger than when Licht traded up in the 2016 draft for FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round, only to have Aguayo falter and be released the following year in training camp.

Licht has also had free agent busts like former Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker and last year, Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry. Both of whom we’re paid heavily but did nothing in their one season before being released.

Licht and his staff do deserve some credit for finding unheralded players like tight end Cameron Brate, running back Peyton Barber and former wide receiver Adam Humphries. All of whom were undrafted and have been quality contributors over the last couple of seasons.

The team had no official comment on Stroud’s report of the extension.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs rookie PK Gay likely won job with clutch Friday night boot

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not over, but it’s almost over. For all intents and purposes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicking competition ended Friday night with :06 remaining in their second preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. That’s when rookie Matt Gay hammered a 48-yard game winning field goal that almost certainly confirmed that he will be the Bucs opening-day placekicker.

Relive the moment here, as the Utah rookie put it through the uprights and gave Tampa Bay a 16-14 win over the Dolphins:

“I owe it all to those game situations that we practice every day in practice. Bruce [Arians] does them for a reason and when you get out there in the game, it just feels like the practice situation because you’ve done it. So, you’re able to have the nerves calm to be able to go out there and do what you need to do,” Gay said to the media post game.

The Bucs were seemingly beaten when Dolphins backup quarterback Jake Rudock led Miami into the endzone in the final :45  and the Fins also got the two-point conversion for a 14 – 13 lead.

However, Buccaneers backup quarterback Ryan Griffin returned the favor, moving Tampa Bay into field-goal range quickly with a 27-yard completion to backup tight end Tanner Hudson that set up Gay’s game-winning attempt.

The rookie, who had made a Heinz Field record 55-yarder to end the first half in Pittsburgh in the preseason opener Last Friday Night, responded with a booming kick the curled perfectly down the middle. And, it gave Coach Bruce Arians a victory in his second preseason game as new Bucs head coach.

“We’ve done that 34-second one with two timeouts before and I thought Griff executed it to perfection and obviously Matty hit the field goal so it was a big win,” Arians told the media post game.

Gay, whom the Buccaneers drafted in April with 5th round pick, has been expected to win the kicking job from veteran Cairo Santos, who finished 2018 on the Buccaneers roster. Gay has the much stronger leg and Santos’ best hope to make the team was: if he continued to accurately knock field goals and extra points through and have Gay repeatedly misfire.

That has not happened.

And, it seems at this point academic that the rookie will be the Bucs opening day kicker.

However, what happens after the regular season begins is a whole other discussion.

As we have written repeatedly, the Bucs have been a revolving door of kickers over the course of the last five years. This includes, Tampa Bay infamously picking Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016 only to have Aguayo falter badly in his rookie year.

And, he was cut after the first preseason game of his second year in 2017.

Gay does not lack for confidence, as he’s talked throughout the build-up to preseason that he embraces the pressure that comes with trying to solidify the Buccaneers kicking woes. Now, it appears that the only thing that would prevent him from having the chance in the regular-season to do that is, if he were to somehow get injured at the start of the year.

But, after Friday night’s finish, Gay looks like everything the Bucs and GM Jason Licht hoped he would be- a stone-cold clutch performer who can deliver, when is team needs him the most.

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