There’s one position in particular that is about to be plentiful with veteran talented players, when the NFL free agency frenzy begins. And for one state NFL team they may make a move in that direction fairly quickly.
First, a blur of established safety activity took place on Tuesday. That’s when, in succession: the NFC Champion Rams released former Bucs first-round pick of and their former leading tackler, Mark Barron. Later on Tuesday afternoon, the New York Giants decided not to exercise the Franchise Tag on safety Landon Collins, who’s their former number one pick, a three-time Pro Bowler and only 25 years old. That makes him an unrestricted free agent, too, coming up.
And then on Wednesday evening, came word that the Baltimore Ravens surprisingly released veteran star and locker room leader Eric Weddle, making him immediately available, too.
This adds to a position that already has Earl Thomas of Seattle and Tyrann Mathieu formerly of the Cardinals and Texans, as well as veterans HaHa Clinton-Dix, and Kenny Vaccaro who are also available at the same position.
So needless to say, teams will quickly make their moves on some or most of the names on that list to get them under contract, when free agency begins in less than 10 days.
One team that could be near the front of that line is the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay is in desperate need of veteran presence at the safety position, as they’ve relied the last couple of years on young players like former second round pick Justin Evans and last year’s rookie middle-round pick Jordan Whitehead. Tampa Bay saw veteran Chris Conte injured and lost for the year at the beginning of the season. And, they had to even resort to playing significantly another veteran, Andrew Adams, whom they had gotten off of waiver-wire.
There’s an obvious connection with Mathieu, the Cardinals and the New Tampa Bay coaching staff that was Mathieu’s coaching staff in Arizona. Head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles drafted Matthew and the Buccaneers could be a likely destination for that veteran.
However, Collins is going to be very coveted, and maybe by the Bucs as well, because of his youth, success early in the NFL and his pedigree for having played on National Championship teams for Nick Saban at Alabama.
The Dolphins aren’t as likely to go after a high-priced veteran safety, because they already have Pro bowler Xavien Howard on their team and they’re trying to work out an extension with him. And, Miami drafted Minkah Fitzpatrick from the aforementioned Crimson Tide in the first round last year.
Plus, the Dolphins are more “salary cap stuck” with an apparent looming release of quarterback Ryan Tannehill taxing their 2019 cap and keeping them from being able to offer big bucks, at least early on, in free agency.
The same can probably be said of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have veteran Tashaun Gipson do back at over $9 million a year. Plus, they have second-year player and 2018 mid-round pick Ronnie Harrison, from you guessed it- Alabama, and also safety Jarrod Wilson, too.
Just like the Dolphins, the Jaguars are likely going to be releasing their quarterback, Blake Bortles and that will be a significant hit on their 2019 salary cap in dead money. And, it will hamper them from being active for the likes of Mathieu, Collins, Thomas, Weddle or any other high-priced big named safety that’s on the market.
Then again, the glut of talented veteran players may keep the price tags down, especially as free agency wears on after the first few days and some of those names above may be more affordable.
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.