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What’s going on with Bucs DE Noah Spence?

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

He came in heralded as a second round pick just two years for the Buccaneers. Now, might defensive end Noah Spence may find himself gone from Tampa Bay before the start of the 2018 regular season?

That’s the question that observers and fans are wondering after Spence curiously played the entire fourth preseason season game on Thursday night against Jacksonville. Especially in the second half, Spence was playing against players who are virtually all going to be cut the by Bucs and the Jaguars.

So, the question about Spence’s status: whether the Bucs will keep him, try to trade him before the Saturday 4 p.m. cutdown to 53 players deadline, or whether he’s about to be out right released was still being asked of coach Dirk Koetter Friday afternoon:

Spence suffered a season ending shoulder injury last October, and has clearly been a disappointment after the Bucs were counting on him being an edge rushing weapon.

For his part, Koetter had an answer ready about Spence having played the whole final preseason game:

“I see a guy that’s working hard to get better. He needed to play. I mean,…. Noah told me at halftime that he was having a great time playing on all downs, not just on pass downs. And I think Noah got better last night. I think he needed to go out there and play like he was an every down player.”

Koetter continued, “I’ll just say that if you look around the league – I think their first-round pick was playing in that game (Taven Bryan), I mean not in the fourth quarter, but he was playing. I mean, playing is playing. Noah needed to play. It was a good experience for him and I think he got better last night.”

Koetter is correct that Bryan did play in the first half, and so too, did embattled Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler, who played two series in the first half. And it’s also correct that neither of them were on the field at all in the second half.

Back to Spence, he’s put on 20+ lbs. of muscle this off season in an attempt to be more sturdy against the run and be on the filed more.

He was no doubt motivated by Tampa Bay signing Vinny Curry from the Eagles and trading for Jason Pierre Paul from the Giants at Spence’s position.

Now, comes whether the Bucs, and specifically, GM Jason Licht who drafted Spence, would be willing to give up on him? Consider, that Licht did that with kicker Roberto Aguayo last August, when they released him after just one preseason game for missing more kicks. Aguayo was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round shortly after they took Spence two years ago.

That means the Bucs would have gotten rid of, for nothing in return, two premium draft picks inside of two seasons played.

Now, the 2016 second round has already amazingly had numerous casualties as Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network pointed out:

That’s a sobering list, and it also means that it’s not so far-fetched that the Buccaneers could say goodbye to Noah Spence.

Could, say goodbye.

Not that they will say good bye on Saturday.

Still, it’s got to be an uneasy Saturday for Spence until, if and when, the coaching staff reassures him that he’s on the roster and not going anywhere.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Peter King- “Bridgewater to Tampa Bay makes sense”

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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the start of another week, and speculation about “quarterback musical chairs” in NFL free agency continues. And a prominent NFL media member believes that current Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater might leave New Orleans and he sees a possible fit with the Buccaneers.

Peter King, now with Pro Football Talk, gave analysis on numerous quarterback situations and potential free agents to be in his Monday morning column. And, while he is not reporting that the Saints will allow Bridgewater to be a free agent and/or that the Buccaneers would be his destination, he does lay out a solid case for a marriage between the two:

Obviously, the Saints must first decide what to do with veteran Hall of Famer to be, Drew Brees, who is slated to become a free agent and cannot be franchise tagged. And, Bridgewater more than acquitted himself a year ago coming off the bench, when Brees was out with a fractured thumb. That included a four-touchdown performance in October in a a win at home against Tampa Bay.

King wrote in part, these thoughts Monday,

Teddy Bridgewater: Tampa Bay makes sense

I can hear it now: Bridgewater doesn’t have the deep arm Bruce Arians needs. I would dispute that. When Arians put Carson Palmer in the pilot’s chair in Arizona, his previous NFL yards per attempt in Cincinnati and Oakland was 7.2. Bridgewater’s career NFL yards per attempt: 7.2.

…..I noticed something with Arians this season. He defended almost every (Jameis) Winston miscue for the first three months of the season. In December, though, that changed. Tampa was 7-7 entering the last two games, both at home. In game 15, against Houston, Winston threw interceptions on two of the first five Buc snaps, and Tampa was down 10-0 after four minutes.

The Bucs lost by three. Next week: Overtime against Atlanta. First play, Winston somehow didn’t see lurker linebacker Deion Jones on tight end Cameron Brate. Pick six. “It smells as bad as it could possible smell,” Arians said after the game. The Bucs had a clear path to a redemptive 9-7 seasons, but six interceptions in the last two weeks ruined that. 

….. This is the story about Bridgewater I appreciate: After Drew Brees was lost with a hand injury in Week 2 and Bridgewater took over, Bridgewater hosted a dinner in Seattle—site of the next game—for all the offensive players, basically to say, All is not lost. We’ll be fine. Minus Brees, the Bridgewater-led Saints went 5-0.

Maybe the Bucs will think Winston deserves another chance with Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. But I won’t be surprised if they go after Bridgewater or Ryan Tannehill, the best free-agent quarterbacks on the market.”

Definitely a compelling argument, but, again, it still has to play out as to whether the Saints don’t re-sign Bridgewater and how, interested are the Bucs vs. other potential teams when the free agency mayhem begins?

As for Tampa Bay are obviously trying to decide what to do with their own free agent-to-be, Winston. As we wrote late last week, coach Bruce Arians remained non-committal on whether to bring back their starter of the last five seasons. This is mainly due to Winston’s inconsistent play, numerous interceptions and the fact the Bucs have had only had one winning season in his five years at the helm.

It this type of  “connect the dots” free agency talk will only continue to build until either Tampa Bay commits to Winston or free agency begins without the Bucs having signed Winston to a long term deal or given him the one year franchise tag. The clearest of indications that they’ve moved on and want a new QB.

And, everyone continues to wait on those decisions.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL analyst- Bucs DE Shaq Barrett top player in free agency

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an amazing first season with the Bucs, defensive end Shaq Barrett is in line for a huge payday. And, a respected NFL analyst says Tampa Bay better be ready to pay, because he believes Barrett is the top free agent upcoming for the entire NFL.

Brian Baldinger, a former 12 year player and now analyst with the NFL Network, posted on social media Saturday evening what he loves about Barrett’s pass-rushing skills and then made his declaration:

There is no exaggerating that Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectations off of a one-year, modest free agent signing from the Broncos by Bucs GM Jason Licht. His four sack game in week 2 against Carolina put the entire NFL on notice.

And, Barrett continued to be a dominant pass rush force for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles the entire season. He ultimately broke Tampa Bay’s single season sack record held by Hall of Famer Warren Sapp in the final game of the season. Barrett finished with 19.5 sacks, which led the NFL.

Now, the Bucs and Licht have to decide whether they’re going to give Barrett a massive contract or perhaps, entertained putting the “franchise tag” on him to ensure that he’s one of the top five paid defensive ends in football. If Licht and the Bucs choose to do that, Barrett will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year.

One concern for the Buccaneers is that Barrett’s breakout 2019 with the 19.5 sacks is more than he had in his previous five years in Denver combined. So, naturally, there is some skepticism that he will be able to produce at that high of a level for multiple years.

Still, it’s going to take that kind average per year deal to keep him from being available via free agency for someone else to sign. And, a further benefit to the franchise tag is at the Buccaneers could always reach a long-term agreement later this off season after tagging Barrett, too.

Now, we wait to see what Tampa Bay can get done.

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