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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs still seeking RB depth in free agency?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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With most of the high-priced free agency out of the way, there are still plenty of “value-based “moves that can be made for teams looking to help themselves at certain positions. The Bucs would be one of those teams, especially if they are looking for another veteran running back.

We already know that Tampa Bay intends to utilize fourth-year player Peyton Barber as their primary back headed into this fall. And, at this point, coming in as undrafted, Barber has earned that opportunity.

First, Barber, who was an exclusive rights free agent for the Bucs, agreed Wednesday to a one-year deal  at a very team-friendly cost of only $2.125 million. And for that price tag, Tampa Bay has a back that carried the ball 234 times for 871 yards, and 5 TDs (all career highs) last season.

The Bucs also signed up former Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington, who played previously for head coach Bruce Arians for five seasons. Ellington was a much more productive receiver out of the backfield with 145 catches for 1,300 yards in his career. He will fill the role that veteran Jacquizz Rodgers has been in, as a veteran reserve the last three seasons in Tampa Bay.

With the Jets releasing veteran running back Isaiah Crowell on Thursday in a cost-cutting move after signing high-priced star Le’Veon Bell, there’s speculation Crowell may be headed to the Buccaneers.

Crowell has played ran for 685 yards in New York last season (including a team record 219 yards against the Broncos) and played under former Jets coach Todd Bowles, who is now the Buccaneers defensive coordinator.

So it’s an easy connection to make that Crowell, could be playing in a place where at least the defensive coordinator is very familiar with what he’s done.

Tampa Bay hasn’t had very much money in free agency to go after the likes of former Saints running back Mark Ingram, who signed a lucrative $15 million three year deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday. Also former Falcons running back Tevin Coleman inked a $10.3 million two-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.

And of course, the Bucs have second round pick from a year ago, Ronald Jones, who basically was left on the bench by the previous Tampa Bay coaching staff led by Dirk Koetter and offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

If Arians and new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, along with running back coach Harold Goodwin, can jump-start Jones into the type of back that we saw making explosive plays at USC, then he may eventually become the star for Tampa Bay.

For now, it’s the proven Barber, the vet- Ellington, and perhaps another smaller priced free agent vet coming to battle with Jones.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs repeated blunders lead to London defeat

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite traveling over 4000 miles to London, it was a day to forget for the Bucs in their rematch with the Panthers on Sunday. Tampa Bay and QB Jameis Winston had enough misuses for a month of football, including 7 turnovers, as they dropped a 37 – 26 defeat at the hands of Carolina.

Winston was the biggest culprit, as he threw five interceptions (a career high) and also lost a number fumble in what was one of his worst performances of his five year career. And, even though his final stat line showed a 400 yards passing, Winston, with shaky from the very beginning. He threw an interception on the first play of the game to Panthers DB James Bradberry. This while trying to hit WR Mike Evans (catchless last week) over the middle.

Carolina only got a field goal though to make the game 3-0. And, after two Bucs punts on the next two possessions, Carolina marched 99 yards and ended up with in a short Christian Mccaffery one yard TD and a 10 – 0 lead.

One of the few breaks the Bucs got at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium Sunday came when Carolina punt returner Ray Ray McCloud fumbled early in the second and Tampa Bay recovered. A short time later, Ronald Jones got the Buccaneers on the board with a five yard score to close the Carolina lead to 10-7.

Little did the Bucs, Winston and coach Bruce Arians know that it would be the closest they would get the rest of the day.

Later in the second, Winston had his arm hit by the Panthers Bruce Irvin and his pass was picked, again. And, it set up McCaffery’s second TD, a 25 yard catch and run to make it 17-7 Carolina in the half.

Then, after halftime,  the Bucs punted on their first possession and then, after a Panthers field goal made it 20-7, Winston once again threw a bad pass over the middle for his third interception of the game. This one to Pro Bowl LB Luke Kuechley, who ran it down to the Bucs 8 yard line. Next, WR Curtis Samuel scored on a handoff and at 27-7, the issue was basically decided.

Yes, the Bucs continued to scrap and Winston actually got them in the endzone  twice in the fourth quarter and finished with 400 yards passing, on the number. However, most of that was against softer coverage while Carolina led big in the second half.

Besides the five INTS, Winston also fumbled away another red zone scoring opportunity after he was hit and sacked. Then, a fourth quarter Bobo Wilson muffed punt led to Panthers field goal and the game back to an easy double digit lead. Again, -6 in the turnover margin was as horrific as it gets for Tampa Bay.

The Panthers are now rolling, including second year QB Kyle Allen getting his fourth straight win in relief of the injured Cam Newton. Plus, Carolina got their revenge from a loss a month ago in Charlotte by winning in their first ever trip to the U.K.

However, this day was more about a Bucs offense, and Winston specifically, that both looked so good in a 55-40 win two weeks ago in L.A. doing the exact opposite for most of this Sunday in a bad defeat.

Tampa Bay now stands 2-4 headed to their bye and knows that the turnovers must stop, or the year will get more sour and very quickly.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs in London leads our Sunday NFL primer

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For one of the rare times this season, all three state NFL teams are in action on Sunday early and one of them very early.

First stop, the Buccaneers rematch the Panthers. This time in London at the newly rebuilt Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Bucs come off of a tough loss 31-24 in New Orleans last week, but do have a win in week two at Carolina 20-14.

In that game, Tampa Bay’s defense took advantage of an injured quarterback Cam Newton and also stuffed running back Christian McCaffrey on their way to a division road win. Newton has been replaced the last three weeks by backup Kyle Allen and he has lead them to three consecutive victories, including road wins at Arizona and Houston.

Meanwhile, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (photo above) will try to ignite his connection with receiver Mike Evans, the Pro Bowler was held without a catch in last week’s loss at the Superdome.

Next up, the Jaguars will host those Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Jacksonville has performed well with rookie 6th round pick quarterback Gardner Minshew leading them That includes a week ago in Charlotte, as Minshew threw for two more touchdowns in a narrow 34-27 loss to the Panthers. Minshew is 2-2 in his starts.

Also, third year running back Leonard Fournette has rounded into form with back-to-back good games including over 100 yards and his first touchdown of the season in a loss to the Panthers.

The Saints come in with three consecutive victories under backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who riddled the Buccaneers for four touchdowns last week. The Saints top target is wide receiver Michael Thomas and it’s unknown, whether Jaguars football defensive back Jalen Ramsey will be healthy enough/active to cover him in this game.

Finally, in Miami it’s a pair of winless teams, as the 0-5 Redskins visit the 0-4 Dolphins. Washington fired their coach Jay Gruden earlier in the week and replaced him with veteran assistant and former Raiders head coach, Bill Callahan.

Meanwhile, first-year coach Brian Flores and the Fins come out of a bye week with a chance at extra preparation in looking for their first win of the season. Flores maintained this week that second-year quarterback Josh Rosen has the starting job, not just for now, but for the foreseeable future.

In their last game two weeks ago, Rosen led a touchdown drive that actually gave Miami their first and only leader of the season at 10-6 against the Chargers However, L.A outplayed them in the second half to keep Miami without a victory.

Both of these teams have looked poor through much of the first part of the year, but one of them will get to celebrate, at least in the short term, with a Sunday win.

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