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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Suitors line up for Gerald McCoy- Browns front runner?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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There apparently is no shortage of teams who have lined up to get their hands on former Buccaneers Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. And, the first team to publicly acknowledge that they’re hosting him is the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns released on their social media Thursday that they were anxious to welcome McCoy to their facility with the chance to sign the free agent, who was released in a salary cap move by the Buccaneers on Monday:

As we have previously written, the Browns were one of the teams that was apparently trying to make a trade for McCoy either prior to the NFL draft or just after. When Buccaneers GM Jason Licht could not make a deal, the Bucs finally decided to part ways with the former number 1 pick from 2010.

The Browns have the second most money under the salary cap as of Friday morning at just over $30 million, and it’s believed could pay McCoy in upwards of $10 million per season on a new deal. Cleveland has been very aggressive over the last couple of years in free agency, including signing former Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry to a massive contract a year ago.

The team also traded for New York Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. this past off season, and, of course drafted former Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Baker Mayfield with the number one overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Defensively, the Browns drafted former Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the number one overall pick in 2017. McCoy would be considered veteran leader and immediately upgrade the inside of the Browns, or anyone else’s, defensive interior.

We continue to maintain that the New Orleans Saints will get strong consideration, as well, because McCoy  trains every offseason with Drew Brees in San Diego. And, the Saints obviously offer an opportunity for McCoy to play against the Buccaneers twice a year in the NFC South.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brees out with thumb injury for Bucs and Jaguars games

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The expected bad news on Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ injured thumb has come on Monday. And, it means the New Orleans quarterback will miss upcoming October games with the Bucs and the Jaguars.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday morning that Brees will be sidelined up to 6 weeks with the injured ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand:

Brees was injured in the second quarter of Sunday’s 30 – 9 loss to the L.A. Rams at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. He was shown on the sideline with his thumb in a splint (above), as the game worn on and did not return to action.

Brees, who will be a certain first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and who led the Saints to their only Super Bowl appearance/win in franchise history in 2009, has been one of the 2-3 top quarterbacks in the NFL for over a decade. Brees, in his 19th season, currently has the NFL’s all time record for completions and passing yards that he accomplished a year ago. He has a staggering 115 games with 300 or more passing yards and another remarkable 12 straight seasons with 4,000 passing yards that is now in jeopardy with the injured thumb.

The Saints will now turn to veteran back up Teddy Bridgewater who filled in Sunday but did not have much success against the stout Rams defense in the loss. Bridgewater, the former Vikings QB, was 17-30 for 165 yards, as New Orleans never found the endzone in the game.

The Sains also have young third QB Taysom Hill, and he’s also been used as a receiver and a special teams ace by New Orleans.

The Bucs, who were winners Thursday night at Carolina, will travel to play the Saints at the Superdome on October 6th in the first of their two NFC South meetings. The following week, New Orleans will be at TIAA Bank Field to take on the Jaguars in their first appearance in North Florida in eight years.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs defense dramatic stand saved night in Charlotte

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

So much has been made of first-year Bucs coach Bruce Arians’ offensive mindset, starting quarterback Jameis Winston’s arm talent and the weapons around them carrying the team, but Thursday night it was the Buccaneers defense that showed up big, as in the end, with the game on the line in the final two minutes, they save the day with a fourth-down heroic play.

Former first-round pick , DB Vernon Hargreaves, came up with a key one-on-one tackle on Carolina star RB Christian McCaffrey (above) on fourth down at the Tampa Bay one-yard line to keep the Panthers from getting a first down.  And, it gave the Bucs the ball back to run out the clock and secure a much needed 20 – 14 win.

Hargreaves’ individual effort epitomized the Buccaneers solid defensive play all night in Charlotte, as they did not allow Carolina to score a touchdown and held them to only three points on offense the entire second half. .

As for the aforementioned Winston and his support on the other side of the ball, they supplied enough, including Peyton Barber running tough for 82 yards on 23 carries and a crucial third-quarter 16 yard touchdown run the gave Tampa Bay the lead for good at 17 – 12.

Winston finished 16-25 for 208 yards, including a first-half touchdown pass to third year receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin is quickly becoming Winston’s new favorite target, as he hauled in eight catches for 121 yards and the score.

Meanwhile, Panthers Pro Bowl quarterback Cam Newton had an off game, as well. Even though he threw for 300 yards, he still had 26 incompletions on 50 attempts and Carolina repeatedly had one drive after another fizzle out in Bucs territory.

Newton was also battered by Tampa Bay’s rush, as new DE Shaq Barrett had three sacks, and the Bucs front seven repeatedly hit and knocked him down. Another key moment came near midfield in the third, when Newton was stripped of the ball for a lost fumble. And, another new Buc, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, fell on it.

And, to top it all off, McCaffery could mount very little offense Thursday night, either. A week after amassing over 200 yards from scrimmage against the Rams, he was held to 16 carries for only 37 yards and just two catches for just more 16 yards.

As for the key stop of McCaffery to preserve victory, Hargreaves said after the game late Thursday,

“It looked like it was going to be the Philly special from the Super Bowl. A reverse pass. When Cam walked up to the line of scrimmage, that’s what I thought it was going to be. As the play developed, McCaffrey faked it and he came right to me. I just stayed at home and he came right to me. I just had to make the play.”

A play that has Tampa Bay sitting 1-1 after a tough divisional win.

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