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ESPN’s “Professor” rates Florida NFL teams free agency moves

Roy Cummings



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Reviews of the moves teams made to strengthen themselves through free agency continue to pour in and one that earned a five-star rating from long-time ESPN NFL analyst “Professor” John Clayton was made by the Jaguars.

Clayton writes that he was a big fan of the Jags decision to further shore up what was once a very weak secondary by signing rising cornerback A.J. Bouye and veteran safety Barry Church.

“In two offseasons, the Jaguars have completely rebuilt the secondary,’’ Clayton wrote. “Bouye is the perfect corner to place on the other side of Jalen Ramsey, who should have a breakout year in his second season.

“Ramsey was targeted often as a rookie, but he held up well for the most part. Bouye became a coverage star for the Houston Texans, with 13 total pass breakups (in 2016). Tashaun Gipson and freshly signed Church, a longtime starter for the Cowboys, form a great safety tandem.’’

The Jags weren’t the only Florida-based team to earn a rave review. The Buccaneers got one as well for their signing of veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Clayton points out something we’ve noted before here at FloridaFootballInsiders, that the Bucs struggled to make big plays in the passing game last year, registering just 43 completions of 20 yards or more, which ranked 24th in the league.

Clayton believes as the Bucs and many others do that Jackson’s speed will help to improve the teams’ big-play ability because it will take some of the attention off fellow wideout Mike Evans.

“He’s perfect as a No. 2 receiver in coach Dirk Koetter’s offense,’’ Clayton wrote of Jackson.

The only Florida team that didn’t earn a rave review from Clayton was the Dolphins, whose biggest addition came via the signing of 31-year-old linebacker Lawrence Timmons.

The Dolphins did a good job of re-signing a lot of their key young players, such as wide receiver Kenny Stills, but as far as adding new pieces, they really didn’t do anything special and Claytons’ review reflects that.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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