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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Report- Bucs WR DeSean Jackson has asked to be traded

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As the Buccaneers ready on Sunday to play the Bengals in Cincinnati, they have another big challenge apparently, and that’s convincing star wide receiver DeSean Jackson to not only stay on the roster but stay focused on helping the team win.

This is after an NFL Network report form insider Ian Rapoport early Sunday morning that Jackson has, in fact, asked the Bucs to trade him before Tuesday’s deadline:

This is the latest info and what has been an ongoing saga since last season, when the free-agent signed a three-year deal to come to Tampa Bay. However, he was completely underutilized, especially in the long pass game in 2017.

Jackson was repeatedly under or over thrown on deep balls last year by quarterback Jameis Winston, who  was trying to play for much of the season with an injured shoulder. Winston was in and out of the lineup missing parts or all of five different games.

Still, Jackson looked at 2018 as a chance to start over, especially in the relationship with the fourth your quarterback and throwing the ball down the field to him. He worked extensively in Los Angeles, College Station Texas (where Winston’s former FSU coach Jimbo Fisher is now the head coach) and in Tampa in the off season trying to get on the same page, as Winston.

Then, came the NFL sitting down Winston with a three game suspension for violation of the player conduct policy in March of 2016. That meant that veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick would be thrust into the starting role to begin the year.

Further complicating things, but in a good way in terms of success, Fitzpatrick was nothing short of outstanding in the first two games of the season throwing for 400 or more yards and four or more touchdowns in both wins over the Saints and the Eagles. And DeSean Jackson was a huge weapon in both catching long passes for touchdowns in each.

As we wrote recently, Jackson was dominating several NFL receiving categories including yards-per-catch, plays of 20 or more yards, ratio of first downs or touchdowns per catch, etc.

Fitzpatrick has since gone to the bench and Winston has started the last two games. And, in both of those games against the Falcons and the Browns, Winston has missed an open Jackson down the field for what would have been an almost certain big play touchdowns.

Jackson did score on a second quarter reverse last week against Cleveland, as the Bucs escaped with a wild 26 – 23 overtime win to push their record back to 3 – 3.

There had been an online report earlier last week that Jackson was looking to get out of Tampa Bay and perhaps return to the team that drafted him, the Eagles. They are in London on Sunday playing the Jaguars and do have a bye week coming up after that game.

Jackson is making 11 million in salary, and a team trading for him would assume they were the last nine games of his money. Jackson’s money for 2019 ($10 million) is not guaranteed, so he would have essentially become a rent-a-player for a team acquiring him for the stretch run this season.

There has been online speculation that the Bucs might try to acquire Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who has been holding out the entire season in Pittsburgh seeking a long-term contract. While a straight-up Bell for Jackson trade comes right out of fantasy football, it probably isn’t very realistic.

This is because, Bell cannot be given a new long-term contract during this season by any team other than the Steelers due to the NFL “franchise tag” free agency rules.

So, that makes trading Bell even more difficult to a team that would want to sign him long-term as part of the agreement.

The NFL trade deadline is 4 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday, and while there’s no indication that Buccaneers GM Jason Licht is interested in moving the veteran Pro Bowl receiver, that could change.

If the Bucs are dismal Sunday in Cincinnati and Winston is once again misfiring trying to hit Jackson downfield, and if a team, the Eagles or someone else, is offering a second or better round draft pick, Licht may be willing to listen.

All of that is hypothetical for now, and now we stay tuned to see if Winston makes some big plays involving Jackson Sunday and calms everything back down with the speedy wideout.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Report- Bucs have extended GM Jason Licht’s contract

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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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