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Latest on top free agents remaining for Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars

Florida Football Insiders

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

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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New Jersey authorities charge Janoris Jenkins brother in homicide at his home

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

It only took a little over 24 hours for authorities in Bergen County, New Jersey to make an arrest in the homicide at the home of New York Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins. And as it turns out, Jenkins older brother William is being charged aggravated manslaughter in the death of 25-year-old Roosevelt Rene.

Rene, who had been staying at the Jenkins home as a guest and friend of the family, was found by a worker in the basement of the home on Tuesday morning.

The 34 year old older brother, William Jenkins had been taken into custody early Tuesday in New Jersey and was sent to Ontario County, New York on a parole violation. He is in the process of being extradited across the New York/New Jersey state lines to Bergen County to face the manslaughter charge.

On Monday evening the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Rene had been strangled or suffocated to death.

Meanwhile. Janoris Jenkins, who just completed his second season with the Giants after signing as a free agent, is reportedly still in Florida. And, he has yet to comment either himself or through a spokesperson about the death at his home.

Janoris Jenkins was not believed to have been home this weekend as neighbors  reported that he and his girlfriend had gone to Florida two weeks ago after Giants mini-camp at concluded.

The Giants have had no comment other than they are monitoring the situation.

As we wrote on Monday, Jenkins is a former star at Pahokee High School where they won the state championship and was part of the Gators National Championship season of 2008 as a freshman in Gainesville.

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Is there a referee crisis for the NFL?

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the past couple of weeks a story has developed that isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it probably should.

Yes, whether or not Bucs QB Jameis Winston is suspended for at least the first three games of the season is a big deal.

Whether or not Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski are happy or unhappy with the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick is also a big deal.

And yes, whether or not players, like Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, can get new contracts or will be holding out come training camp next month is again, a big deal.

However, we haven’t seen nearly as much coverage on something that is also very significant once the game start being played. There are four former NFL referees from a year ago that have all resigned/retired and that’s a big number all at once.

As is laid out here, with the NBC official announcement Thursday that former referee Terry McAulay will be joining NBC Sunday Night Football in the booth, that means three of them will be in the Network TV booth this fall:

There has already been some eyebrow raising at Triplette going to Monday Night Football as a rules expert for ESPN, but they obviously had a need when Gerry Austin agreed to go join former MNF analyst Jon Gruden in a newly created position with the Raiders.

And as for Steratore, who worked Superbowl 52 last year, he will serve not only in the booth with the Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, but will be used as a college basketball rules analyst this winter for CBS’ hoops coverage. He’s shown above dealing with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll being on the field and flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct in their December loss at the Jaguars.

The fourth referee is Ed Hochuli, who is retiring and yet to have a TV role, if there is one for him.

The bigger point is that everyone of these head referees are long time veterans and represent approximately 25-30% of the referees who work weekends in the NFL.

And in the cases of Steratore and McAulay, they are younger than Triplette and Hochuli, and could have conceivably been referees another 10 years or so, had they wanted.

So, why didn’t they want to continue?

Former supervisor of the NFL officials and now Fox TV rules analyst, Mike Pereira, has repeatedly expressed that due to the micromanaging that HD replay reviews have caused, that many of the “rank and file” are disgruntled and discouraged.

And, if several on field officials can follow his lead and end up with a high paying network TV gig, then who can begrudge them?

Still, we at F.F.I. can’t hope but wonder if this kind of turnover with head referees will have some effect with the new ones taking over botching calls or situations come this fall.

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Former Bucs first round pick McCants arrested, again

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The sad tale of former Buccaneers number one pick Keith McCants continues, as early Monday morning he was arrested, yet again, this time in St. Petersburg for drug possession.

McCants, who was taken fourth overall as the Bucs first round pick in 1990, was booked in the Pinellas County jail for felony possession of crack cocaine.

According to jail records, this is the ninth different time that McCants has been arrested on some charge in the Tampa Bay area in the last eight years.

McCants, now 50 years old, never lived up to the billing of being taken in the top five, as he played only three seasons in Tampa Bay,. He battled weight and knee problems and only registered 12 sacks in three seasons. He also played for the Oilers and the Cardinals in subsequent seasons, but was out of the NFL by 1995.

McCants has repeatedly tried to get his life in order, including giving motivational speeches and writing an essay in the Sporting News in 2011 warning younger players about dangers with drugs, etc. and his troubles. 

The former Alabama All American was also featured on the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Broke” in 2012, where he detailed how he had lost all of his $4.5 million dollars from his playing career.

McCants was booked at 4:24 a.m. in the Pinellas County Jail Monday morning and bonded out at $2,000  on the felony charge for drug possession, and also for driving with a revoked or suspended license.

One of McCants previous arrests was for driving with a suspended license in January of this year and he was to have stood trial on July 10th on that charge.

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