With “voluntary” OTAs starting back up this week, and with teams holding “mandatory” mini-camps coming soon, we are going to continuously keep you updated on what is still out there for the Bucs, Dolphins, and Jaguars in the way of veteran free agent help. And, at this point, that’s going to be much less expensive veteran help and a lot of the time a one year deal that benefits the team.
Here again are what we believe each team’s needs still are as the summer approaches:
Tampa Bay– veteran RB help, linebacker help, and maybe, safety help
Miami– veteran offensive line help, and also, potentially linebacker and maybe, safety help
Jaguars– veteran RB help, also linebacker help, and potentially backup QB, too
Now, for the names that are still out there:
RB DeMarco Murray– The veteran Pro Bowler continues to shop for a team. Murray is 30 years old, which is a turnoff for a lot of teams to commit a bunch of moolah guaranteed to him. However, he’s been paid on average over $7 million the last three seasons with the Eagles and then, the Titans. The Eagles originally gave him a five year $40 million dollar deal with a $5 million signing bonus in 2015.
The Titans traded for Murray the next off season and re-worked that deal giving him $12.5 million as a signing bonus to help their cap situation. Realistically, he isn’t going to get anywhere near $12 million to sign, hypothetically with the Bucs or anywhere else. He might not even get $5 million in guarantees this year from any team, anywhere.
Murray likely has a season or two to “pop” for a team. Will it be the Bucs? Might the Jags be willing to do a one year deal and have him go against his former team of the last two years, Tennessee?
The wait continues.
S Kenny Vaccaro– After being allowed to test free agency by the Saints, he visited the Dolphins pre-draft, and is still visiting other teams, like the Colts last week. He’s a hard hitting safety that battled groin and ankle injuries in 2017. Still, he made 60 tackles and had three interceptions in New Orleans. Is he shopping for the best multi-year or best one year option? It should be noted that the Jags (Ronnie Harrison), Bucs (Jordan Whitehead) and the Fins (Minkah Fitzpatrick) all drafted a safety.
However, Vaccaro is a veteran presence, former Pro Bowler, and one of the teams may be looking for depth at safety.
At LB: Navarro Bowman or Brian Cushing– Bowman is a former 49ers Pro Bowler who is 30, and played last year in Oakland. Cushing is 31 and had played his entire 10 years for the Houston Texans. He’s battled a season ending knee injury earlier in his career, but last year was suspended 10 games for violating the performance enhancing drugs.
All three state teams drafted a linebacker in April. Miami went with Ohio State’s Jerome Baker in the third round, but the Bucs and Jaguars picks were both in the sixth and seventh rounds. So, that would not necessarily preclude Tampa Bay and Jacksonville from looking at a veteran. The Bucs are without Kendell Beckwith with a broken leg in a car accident that has him sidelined into training camp. Meanwhile, Jags veteran Paul Posluszny retired in March creating a void.
Bowman and Cushing’s names have not been on Tampa Bay or Jacksonville’s radar at all. So, it’s not likely, but you never know.
Sure there’s also high profile WR Dez Bryant, but he reportedly turned down a strong free agent offer from the Ravens just before the draft and even thought the Packers showed some interest, Bryant is still on the look.
However, none of the Bucs, Dolphins or Jaguars has a need at WR. All three have depth, including veterans and the Jags took one in the second round, D.J. Chark, and the Bucs took Ivy Leaguer Justin Watson out of Penn in the fifth round. And with the Dolphins grabbing Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson in free agency, there just doesn’t seem to be a spot for Bryant.
And then, there’s the locker room and sideline during game antics and drama and that has a lot of teams turned off.
Bottom line, there are still some vets out there and we’ll see who gets what kind of deal as May turns to June and June to training camp time in July. Also, veterans will keep themselves in shape and be waiting for injuries to occur in July and August.
Like, Jay Cutler for Miami a year ago.
So, for now, we watch and wait for the free agent news
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