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Key free agents remaining for Bucs, Dolphins, and Jaguars

Florida Football Insiders

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
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Things have begun to settle down post NFL Draft for the franchises, but as we continue to document, your roster evaluation doesn’t cease during this time period. And for the Buccaneers, Dolphins and Jaguars, there are still some players out there that could help each club.

And, as Miami demonstrated late last week, they were unsatisfied with all of what happened in the draft. First they traded for young veteran defensive tackle Akeem Spence from Detroit, and then, when the Jets pulled the plug on veteran and former fourth round pick, QB Bryce Petty, the Dolphins wasted no time claiming him and assuming his over $750,000 salary for this year.

Obviously, there are several prominent names sitting out there as the calendar has flipped to May.

And there might be some interest for the the following guys:

RB C.J. Anderson- Late of the Broncos, we mentioned pre-draft that he might be a fit in Tampa Bay or Miami. However, the Bucs drafted Ronald Jones in the second round, and the Fins took Kallen Ballage in the fourth round, who both seemingly fill the need. Still, Anderson has veteran experience and will likely come cheap, and even perhaps on a one year deal.

S Kenny Vaccaro- After being allowed to test free agency by the Saints, he visited the Dolphins three weeks ago. 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. And like Anderson, may be willing to take a one year deal at this point to hook on with a team.  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 linebacker: 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 teams drafted a linebacker last weekend. Miami went with Ohio State’s Jerome Baker in the third round, but the Bucs and Jaguars picks were both were 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 last month creating a void.

Finally,

Offensive line depth: While the Bucs not only signed free agent Ryan Jensen of the Ravens, but drafted Division II guard Alex Cappa in the third round, they still might be interested in someone like the Cardinals free agent Alex Boone. He’s a 31 years old, started 13 games last year and has played on a one year deal the last two years in Arizona and Minnesota.

The Dolphins did not draft an offensive lineman last weekend, could also be interested in Boone or perhaps also, former #1 pick G Luke Joeckel, who played last year in Seattle, and is 26 years old.

The Jags made a free agent splash after signing the Panthers Andrew Norwell to a massive contract, and then last weekend, took N.C. State T Will Richardson in the fourth round. So, it’s unlikely that they will have a need.

It’s unlikely that any team of the teams has an interest in Cowboys free agent WR/Diva Dez Bryant, who would likely come at a large cost. And, while the Dolphins took a good look at veteran RB DeMarco Murray, late of the Titans, in March, they elected to sign veteran Frank Gore instead.

That means Murray must likely keep looking beyond the Sunshine State.

Don’t be surprised if some of the names above will still be available through the summer, staying in shape, and waiting for a possible training camp or preseason injury to jump back on an NFL roster.

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Officials have to stop “blowing” critical calls

Jason Cole

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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Don’t blow the whistle right away.

Let the play continue and sort it out later.

There are several ways to say it. Whether or not you agree with the principle of a ref swallowing his whistle, the NFL has preached the idea of refs waiting to make a call for nearly two decades.

Yet somehow, someway, the officials keep screwing up this simple principle. On Sunday, the latest example may have cost the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a game. It’s at least the sixth time it has happened this season.

While it’s easy to pin much of the blame on Tampa Bay’s offense after three more turnovers from quarterback Jameis Winston and/or on a brutally poor effort on a critical fourth-and-short play, that story is old hat.

The hand-wringing the Glazer Family is going to do over whether to re-sign Winston this offseason is hard to imagine. That decision, however, doesn’t have to come today.

A decision about how to fix officiating is a more pertinent issue for Commissioner Roger Goodell, Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron and the league as a whole. Errors in officiating have been a theme since the non-call in the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game in January.

Those errors are costing teams vital wins and impacting legacies.

Put it this way: if the Rams don’t make the Super Bowl last season, is the league completely infatuated with Sean McVay as it was on the way to hiring young coaches such as Matt LaFleur, Kliff Kingsbury and Zac Taylor?

But, I digress. I’ll circle back to this point in a moment.

On Sunday, Tennessee was leading 27-23 and got away with an obvious fumble by holder Brett Kern on a fake field goal with 3:45 remaining. Kern tried to convert a fourth-and-2 play, but was quickly stopped by Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (photo above), coughing up the ball while he was still standing.

The Bucs scooped the ball and looked to have an easy touchdown return that would have flipped the lead. Instead, the play was whistled dead and Tampa Bay took over possession still needing a TD.

If you’re Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians, you have to be asking: what the hell is going on here? This was a brutal whistle and completely against the rule of thumb the NFL has preached for years.

In fact, it’s something that the NFL and Riveron have been emphasizing weekly after the officials erred in week two by blowing the whistle and nullifying a potential game changing fumble return the Saints Cameron Jordan, against….you guessed it, the Rams.

So, there was no reason to blow the whistle Sunday. There was simply no need and no gain. The officials weren’t protecting a quarterback or a defenseless player.

The officials just blew it, literally.

This is the type of play that is simply inexcusable for the NFL to tolerate. It is the kind of play the NFL Referees Association also needs to rail against for the sake of all officials. This requires fines and public accountability, such as saying that officials who make these mistakes will miss a game.

Yes, officiating is incredibly difficult and there are few rewards. No one ever talks about good officiating. Good officiating is defined by not noticing it. If a ref does his job well, it’s like a great waiter who goes unnoticed, because people are so happy with the dining experience.

For those who complain about missed calls, such as the two illegal hands to the face penalties against Trey Flowers in the Detroit-Green Bay game two weeks ago, this is more egregious.

Not following directives of the V.P. of Officiating is a whole lot different than making a poor evaluation in a split second, especially when you may be in an odd position with a bad view.

If you are Goodell or Riveron, this is the stuff that makes you pull your hair out. The only hope they have is that somehow Arians won’t file a complaint. The chances of that are about as good as Bill Belichick smiling in a postgame press conference.

If you are Arians – or, more importantly, Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich or defensive coordinator Todd Bowles – this type of call can change the direction of everything you’re trying to accomplish. The rest of the game was marred by game-costing mistakes, from a botched fourth-and-short call to the game-ending interception by Winston.

The ripple of this play is it could further convince the Glazers to move on from Winston at the end of the season rather than stay with him. All the work Arians and Co. have put in with Winston could be wasted.

For Leftwich, the chance to be a head coach is very much wrapped up in his ability to get Winston to be better. If Bowles has a chance to be a head coach again, the bottom line is about winning.

And while there are plenty of criticisms that can be fairly launched at Arians and his staff, the reality is that the NFL needs to take a more serious approach to punishing officials on plays like the botched fumble/no fumble Sunday in Nashville.

There are too many people with too much at stake.

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NFL

Florida Attorney General files appeal in Robert Kraft case

Florida Football Insiders

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
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The Florida Attorney General has appealed a lower court ruling throwing out the video in New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft solicitation of prostitution case from Palm Beach this past January.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office just beat the Tuesday night October 1st deadline to file with Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals on the previous lower court ruling.

The 50 page legal brief concludes that authorities in Palm Beach County were within their right to obtain video surveillance of Kraft and numerous others having sex acts performed on them during a five day period in January at the “Orchids of Asia” Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.

Kraft, the 78 year old owner of the Patriots, was allegedly captured on video on back-to-back days engaging in the illegal sex acts.

The Boston Globe obtained the legal brief which quoted Moody’s office,

“Based on video captured by surveillance cameras police installed in the Spa pursuant to a warrant, Mr. Kraft’s guilt is a virtual certainty.”

Kraft lawyers were not available for comment on the appeal to the paper Wednesday morning.

Kraft’s defense team won the key ruling to suppress the video for his case with circuit Judge Robert Hanser. In May Hanser agreed that the so-called “Sneak-and-Peek warrant” that the police officials obtained did not take enough precautions to protect the privacy of those who were going into the massage parlor and receiving legitimate massages.

The five-day surveillance netted charges against 25 men on solicitation of prostitution and lewd and lascivious conduct. Numerous ones of them have already plead guilty.

Kraft, who has a home in Palm Beach, was in the day spa just hours before he flew to Kansas City for the Patriots overtime AFC Championship Game win against the Chiefs that put them into Super Bowl 53.

The legal brief asserts that Kraft was not entitled to argue to the court about the rights of all of the defendants or anyone else that was surveilled on the video. Instead, Moody’s office wrote,

“Mr. Kraft lacks standing to vicariously assert the Fourth Amendment rights of third parties … Second, in no event would Mr. Kraft be entitled to total suppression of all video in the case; rather, he would be entitled to suppress only the unlawfully seized videos, a class which would not include the video evidence of his own prostitution offenses.”

In other words, he is only allowed to argue about his own situation and Hanser ruled incorrectly on that point.

Kraft’s side now has 30 days to respond. The appeals court is expected to rule later this winter and if they do so in favor of the Attorney General and the prosecutors, then the video may end up being released to the public even before a trial.

That is because, as we have detailed throughout this process earlier this year, defendants in Florida caught under any type of video surveillance in alleged criminal acts are not exempt from having that video released, even if they have not been tried or convicted.

Numerous local and national media outlets filed with the Palm Beach County Court to have the video released and that case is also still pending because of Hanser’s previous May ruling.

More serious than they likely fine, community service, etc. that Kraft might receive as punishment, is the possible discipline from the NFL under the personal conduct policy.

That could include fines and suspension, but the NFL traditionally waits for legal proceedings to finish first.

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