Bucs GM Licht on Gronk: ‘It is always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game’

After 11 seasons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski has decided to call it quits. Gronkowski announced his retirement from the NFL via Instagram on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Buccaneers after spending the first nine seasons with the Patriots. After retiring in 2019, Gronkowski returned in 2020 and followed Tom Brady to Tampa Bay, where the two won their fourth Super Bowl together. 

Gronkowski ended his career with 621 receptions, 9286 yards, and 92 touchdown catches. His receiving touchdowns total is tied for the third-most by a tight end in NFL history, trailing only Antonio Gates (116) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (111)

The five-time Pro Bowler was honored as one of five tight ends selected to the NFL 100 All-Time Team and one of two chosen for the NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade Team for the 2010s.

Here is a statement from Buccaneers GM Jason Licht on the retirement of Gronkowski:

“Rob is a true professional who left it all on the field for us the past two seasons and helped establish a championship culture in our building. He played a crucial part in our Super Bowl LV championship season in 2020 and battled through a number of injuries last year while on the way to one of the most productive receiving yardage seasons in his 11-year career. It is always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game when he is still enjoying that kind of success, but the overwhelming emotions I feel today are gratitude and respect for one of the greatest tight ends who ever played the game. While his on-field accomplishments will surely earn him a gold jacket and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is his humble attitude and team-first approach to the game that truly defined his career.”

Buccaneers announce dates, times for 2022 preseason schedule

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers confirmed the dates and times of the team’s 2022 preseason slate, the team announced Thursday.

The schedule will feature matchups against the Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts.

Tampa Bay will begin its 2022 preseason with a home game at Raymond James Stadium against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, August 13, at 7:30 p.m. ET. It will mark the 33rd all-time preseason meeting between the Buccaneers and Dolphins – the most against any opponent in Tampa Bay’s franchise history.

In preseason Week 2, the Buccaneers will travel to face the Tennessee Titans, marking the third matchup between the two teams over the past five seasons. Tampa Bay owns a 7-4 advantage over the Titans in preseason meetings, including a 4-2 mark on the road. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT) on Saturday, August 20.

The Buccaneers will close out the 2022 preseason with a visit to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, August 27, at 7:30 p.m. ET. It will mark just the sixth preseason meeting between Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, and the first since 1989.

2022 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

DATE                                                  OPPONENT                           TIME                                 

Week 1 (August 13)                            MIAMI                                     7:30 p.m. ET

Week 2 (August 20)                            at Tennessee                          7:00 p.m. ET

Week 3 (August 27)                            at Indianapolis                         7:30 p.m. ET

NFL announces dates for the five international regular-season games in 2022

On Wednesday, the NFL announced the dates for its five 2022 international regular-season games – three in the UK, one in Germany and one in Mexico. 

The 2022 international games will feature four playoff participants, including the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers and NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and an NFC West showdown in Mexico.  

The 2022 international games:

Location

Matchup

Stadium

Date & Time

Network

United Kingdom (London)

Minnesota Vikings vs
New Orleans Saints

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

October 2, 9:30am ET

NFL Network

United Kingdom (London)

New York Giants vs
Green Bay Packers 

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

October 9, 9:30am ET

NFL Network

United Kingdom (London)

Denver Broncos vs Jacksonville Jaguars

Wembley Stadium

October 30, 9:30am ET

ESPN+

Germany

(Munich)

Seattle Seahawks vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Allianz Arena – Home of FC Bayern Munich

November 13, 9:30am ET

NFL Network

Mexico

(Mexico City)

San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals

Estadio Azteca

November 21, 8:15pm ET

ESPN

Last year, as part of the League’s expansion of the regular season to 17 games, it was determined that, beginning with the 2022 season, up to four of the teams from the conference whose teams were eligible for a ninth regular-season home game would instead be designated to play a neutral-site international game each year.    

This year’s international series will kick off with games on back-to-back weekends at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.  

The New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings will each play in the UK for the third time.  Both teams have won on two previous occasions in the UK and will make their debut at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, October 2.     

The following Sunday, October 9, the Green Bay Packers, NFC North champions for the third consecutive year, will face the New York Giants in their first international trip, becoming the 32nd NFL team to play in London since 2007.  The Giants will play in the UK for the third time, having won both the inaugural London game at Wembley Stadium in 2007 and the first game played at Twickenham Stadium in 2016.  This will be their first game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.  

London action shifts to Wembley Stadium on Sunday, October 30, when the Jacksonville Jaguars, who played at Tottenham last season, return to Wembley for the first time since 2019, having played there for seven straight seasons.  They will face the Denver Broncos who are making their first trip to the UK since they last played at Wembley in 2010.  

In the first-ever NFL regular-season game in Germany, the two-time Super Bowl champion and current NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by quarterback Tom Brady, will face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, November 13.  As previously announced, Munich and Frankfurt were chosen to stage regular-season games in Germany over the next four years.  The first game will take place at Allianz Arena – Home of FC Bayern Munich.    

The NFL will return to Mexico City on November 21 with Monday Night Football.  Estadio Azteca will host a matchup between NFC West rivals San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals in a rematch of the NFL’s first regular-season game played outside the United States.  In 2005, the teams played at Estadio Azteca with 103,467 fans in attendance, the eight largest crowd in NFL history.  

The full 2022 NFL Schedule next Thursday.

Bruce Arians moves to front office; Buccaneers name Todd Bowles head coach

Super Bowl-winning head coach Bruce Arians will be transitioning from his coaching duties to a role in the Buccaneers’ front office as Senior Football Consultant, advising General Manager Jason Licht, the team announced Wednesday.

In addition, the team named defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as the franchise’s new head coach.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Buccaneers are doing away with the remaining two years on Bowles’ defensive coordinator contract and are giving him a new five-year deal.

Bowles takes over the Buccaneers following a three-year stint as the team’s defensive coordinator, where he transformed the unit into one of the most productive, opportunistic defenses in the NFL.

“I am appreciative of the Glazer family and Jason Licht for having faith in me to take on this role, and to Coach Arians for his support and guidance over the past four decades.” Bowles said via a statement from the team. “Tampa has become home for my family, and we are excited to remain part of this community for years to come. As an organization, we have all the pieces in place to continue the winning standard that has been established here in recent years. I am eager to get started with our players, coaching staff, and front office in preparation for the 2022 season.”

The 58-year-old Bowles joined the Buccaneers after spending the previous four seasons as the head coach of the New York Jets (2015-18). Under Bowles, the Jets posted one of the best run defenses in the NFL, holding teams to just 4.00 yards per carry, the sixth-lowest figure in the NFL during that span, and allowing only 44 rushing touchdowns, tied for the eighth-fewest in that timeframe. Bowles’ Jets defense also allowed opposing offenses to convert only 36.0 percent of third downs, the fourth-lowest mark in the league. Opposing passers completed just 60.6 percent of their passes against the Jets under Bowles, the third-lowest mark in the NFL.

Arians, 69, concludes a 46-year coaching career, including his last nine leading NFL franchises. With the Buccaneers from 2019-2021, Arians amassed a 31-18 (.633) regular season record and a 5-1 (.833) postseason record, including a victory in Super Bowl LV following the 2020 season. In 2021, he directed Tampa Bay to its first NFC South division title since 2007 and victory in the Wild Card Round. The Buccaneers’ 36 combined regular season and postseason victories over the last three seasons are the fourth-most in the NFL.

He is a two-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year, winning the award following the 2012 season with the Indianapolis Colts and the 2014 season with the Arizona Cardinals. Including his 9-3 record as interim head coach of Indianapolis in 2012, Arians’ .635 winning percentage (89-51-1) ranks eighth among coaches who have coached at least 100 games in the Super Bowl era.  Arians is Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in regular season and postseason winning percentage, while his .619 regular season winning percentage as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals is the best in that franchise’s history.

Here is a statement from Arians on his retirement:

“I have spent most of the last 50 years of my life on the sidelines as a football coach in one form or another. Today, I have made the decision to move from the sidelines into another role with the Buccaneers front office, assisting Jason Licht and his staff.

“I love football. I love the relationships, the strategy, the competition—everything. It has been one hell of a ride, but I know this is the right time for me to make this transition.

“So why now?

“The simple answer is that I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could during this incredible coaching journey. Winning Super Bowl LV at our home stadium, with my mom and family in attendance, was really the last item I wanted to check off my career bucket list. For me, this is about more than just trying to add more wins to my coaching record.

“This team is in a much better place than it was three years ago due to Jason’s great work and the Glazer family’s commitment to winning. Before you start thinking this is about my health, don’t. This is the best I have felt in many years and I’m looking forward to helping this team continue winning through my new role. 

“I want to focus on what I can give back to this incredible game that has provided so much for me and my family. I really began thinking about my personal transition plan earlier this offseason. I wanted to ensure when I walked away that Todd Bowles would have the best opportunity to succeed. So many head coaches come into situations where they are set up for failure, and I didn’t want that for Todd. Tom’s decision to come back, along with Jason and his staff doing another great job of keeping the core of this team intact during free agency, confirmed for me that it was the right time to pass the torch to Todd. I began conversations with Jason and the Glazer family a few weeks ago about a possible succession plan. Their understanding and support mean the world to me. 

“Todd is a great football coach and I know he will do excellent things here with the Buccaneers. The coaching staff has been crucial to the success we have enjoyed here the past few seasons. Coaching is about teaching players, and this staff has some of the best teachers in the business. 

“Professionally, I have been blessed to work for many great organizations. I’d like to thank Michael Bidwell for turning my dream of being an NFL head coach into a reality in 2013. I would especially like to acknowledge the entire Glazer family for bringing me to Tampa Bay in 2019 and providing all the support and vision a coach could ask for. None of this success would have been possible without their complete buy-in and backing.

“There are too many people who have played a part in my coaching career to mention them all now. To all of them, I say: Thank You. I could not have made it here without your support, hard work and belief in me.

“I can’t end this announcement without a nod to all of the players I have been fortunate to coach along the way. I have been part of some special teams and those are always composed of exceptional players who put the needs of the team before their own. They made me a better coach and a better leader.    

“Lastly, I want to thank the fans of Tampa Bay for their unwavering support over these past three years. Chris and I arrived here in 2019 and were blown away by their enthusiasm and passion. I am happy we got to share that Super Bowl season together and I look forward to contributing to even more championship moments with this special organization.”

Go Bucs!

BA

Bucs’ Ryan: ‘The number one thing about coming here was winning a championship’

Logan Ryan won two Super Bowls with Tom Brady in New England, and he’s hoping to do the same with Brady in 2022.

Ryan signed with the Buccaneers, the team announced Thursday.

According to reports, it’s a one-year deal.

 “The number one thing about coming here was winning a championship, and that’s what I’m here to do and help with,” Ryan said Thursday. “Being a teammate of Tom [Brady], that’s what he’s about—playing football at the highest level, practicing football at the highest level. Obviously, the expectation and standard is championship, each and every year and each and every day. So I was excited to have that opportunity. That’s what I’m playing for at this point in my career, and it makes a lot of sense. This is a great organization. But, I think the championship opportunity, to go compete for that, and to have a talented roster around me [allows] me to come in and be a great teammate, do great things in the community, and win a championship.”

Tampa Bay lost safety Jordan Whitehead to the Jets in free agency, and they are hoping the 31-year-old Ryan can replace what Whitehead brought to the table. The nine-year veteran has a lot of versatility as he played both corner and safety in his career. He also a leader, and last season he was one of the team captains for the New York Giants.

 “Come in and be a great player, period,” Ryan said about what he brings to the Buccaneers. “They know I’m a great teammate. Bring experience; I have some experience, in the secondary. It’s a great, young group, but I just have a little experience to me. Just be a great communicator – help shore up the communication. Some disguise is what I do well. So, some of my strong suits are just a natural fit of what they needed. But versatility is my calling card in this league – it got me 10 years here. So, whatever position that may be, that’s up to Todd Bowles to play me wherever he wants to play me.

“I’ve just got to be able to learn it all. It’s a really talented group. I knew there was an opening there when the young, talented safety (Jordan Whitehead) went to the Jets; I knew there was an opportunity there for myself to play with Mike Edwards, [Antoine] Winfield, Carlton Davis, [Sean] Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, and all those guys. Like I said, I know the roster really well from watching a lot of film and hearing the recruiting pitch a couple years ago. They have a really good group back there.”

Since entering the league in 2013, Ryan’s 95 passes defensed rank sixth in the NFL. He has recorded at least eight passes defensed in eight of his nine career seasons, marking the most such seasons by any player since he entered the league. 

Ryan has recorded 10.5 of his 13.0 career sacks over the past four seasons, ranking second among all NFL defensive backs in sacks since 2018, trailing only Jamal Adams (19.5). Over the last three seasons, Ryan has also developed a knack for knocking the ball loose, ranking tied for third among all defensive backs with nine forced fumbles.

 

Bucs tag wide receiver Chris Godwin

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have applied the franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin, the team announced Tuesday.

Godwin and the Buccaneers were reportedly working on a long-term deal, but the two sides could not come together by Tuesday’s 4 pm deadline, which meant the Bucs had to tag Godwin.

The five-year veteran was tagged by Tampa Bay for the second straight season and will make $19.18 million next season. The two sides have until July 15 to come together on a new contract.

In 2021, the 26-year-old Godwin, who tore his ACL in Week 15, led Tampa Bay with a career-high 98 receptions and 1,103 receiving yards to go along with his five receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. He ranked third in the NFL among qualified players in receptions per game (7.0) and seventh in receiving yards per game (78.8).

Godwin has started 47-of-72 games in which he has appeared for Tampa Bay since entering the league as a third-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

Bucs’ Brady on retirement: ‘I haven’t put a lot of thought into it’

For most of Sunday’s divisional-round playoff matchup, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were having a difficult time with the Los Angeles Rams.

Los Angeles led the Buccaneers 27-3 in the third quarter. At that point, it appeared the world champions’ goal of repeating was done. However, the Bucs slowly worked their back and tied the game at 27 late in the fourth.

But, Matthew Stafford hit Cooper Kupp on a 44-yard strike that set up Matt Gay’s 30-yard game-winning field goal at the buzzer to give the Rams a 30-27 victory at Raymond James Stadium.

With the win, the Rams host the 49ers in the NFC Championship game next Sunday.

“Yeah, we were down a bunch, and a lot of guys made a bunch of different plays to get us back into it,” Brady said postgame. “And they just made one more than us. So, kind of back and forth, we got off to a slow start which we certainly didn’t want to do against a good football team like that, who plays well from ahead. It made us pretty one-dimensional. But, you know, it is always tough losing at the end of the year. Obviously, we showed a lot of fight, but at the end of the day, you lose a game, you lose a game.”

Brady completed 30-of-54 passes in the game for 329 yards and one touchdown, but at age 44, the logical question is, have we’ve seen the last of him in the NFL. Well, we didn’t get that answer postgame.

“I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, so you know, we will just take it day by day and kind of see where we are at,” the 22-year veteran said. “Truthfully, guys, I’m thinking about this game. I’m not thinking about anything past five minutes from now.”

If Brady retires, which could happen, clearly he goes down as the G.O.A.T. He won seven Super Bowls, which is just ridiculous; however, based on what we saw out of him in 2021, he still is playing at a high level as he led the league in passing yards and touchdown passes. Of course, if he wants to come back, Tampa would like him back. Brady’s magic number for retirement was 45, so maybe that means one more year, or maybe not. 

We’ll see what happens going forward. 

 

 

Bucs activate Fournette from IR, waive Le’Veon Bell

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers activated running back Leonard Fournette from injured reserve and waived running back Le’Veon Bell, the team announced Saturday

Fournette, who injured his hamstring in Week 15, played in 14 games for the Buccaneers during the 2021 regular season, with 13 starts, prior to being placed on injured reserve on December 23.

The fifth-year running back rushed 180 times for 812 yards and eight touchdowns, adding 69 receptions for 454 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. He led the team in both rushing yards (812) and scrimmage yards (1,266) this season.

Over the Buccaneers four-game playoff run to Super Bowl LV last year, Fournette led the team in rushing yards (300), rushing touchdowns (three), scrimmage touches (82), scrimmage yards (448), scrimmage touchdowns (four) and receptions (18). He also became one of just three players in NFL history to record a touchdown in all four of their team’s playoff games in a single postseason, joining Larry Fitzgerald (2008) and Terrell Davis (1997). His 448 scrimmage yards marked the most in team history for a single postseason, the ninth-most in NFL history for a single postseason and stand as the second-most all-time in franchise playoff history, trailing only Mike Alstott (502). Fournette’s 300 rushing yards and 18 receptions both also set team records for a single postseason.

In addition, Tampa Bay elevated wide receiver John Brown and quarterback Ryan Griffin from the practice squad to the active roster for Sunday’s game vs. the Los Angeles Rams.

Eagles’ Hurts: ‘We’re going to come back hungry, but this season was far from a failure’

For the Philadelphia Eagles to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium Sunday, they needed to play close to a perfect game. Unfortunately, they were far from perfect. Philadelphia turned the ball over three times, leading to 14 points for Tampa Bay. 

After three quarters, the Buccaneers led 31-0 and would defeat the Eagles 31-15 in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. 

Tom Brady completed 29-of-37 passes in the game for 271 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.

With the win, Tampa Bay will host the winner of Cardinals-Rams in the divisional round, while the Eagles go home and think about next season.

In his first career playoff start, the 23-year-old Jalen Hurts, the youngest Eagles quarterback to start a playoff game, struggled. He was 23/43 for 258 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions. Many of those 258 yards came when the game was out of reach. 

“We didn’t do our jobs good enough, I didn’t do my job good enough – communicating and doing the little things,” Hurts said. “I could have been better, definitely, and I think there are a ton of different areas where we can kind of shoulder this as a team, but I take accountability for my actions and everything.”

The biggest question for the Eagles coming into the season, and the biggest question as the season ends, is Hurts, the team’s franchise quarterback. The second-year quarterback got a ringing endorsement from his head coach postgame.

“Again, we’re all going to say for today’s game he didn’t play his best game, as we all know,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. “But you don’t take the body of work that he had for 17 weeks – and I know he didn’t play two games, so 15 weeks – and put everything on this game. I know we’re all judged on the last game that we play, I understand that and fully get that, but I felt like Jalen grew throughout the year, and he got better as a passer, and he got better reading the defenses, getting the ball to the right place. 

“He developed so much in his ability to extend plays of not only making plays with his feet but also making plays downfield on the scramble. I know the one today; he scrambled and threw the interception. He had some other scrambles that were good throws. So, I feel really good with what we have in place right here at the quarterback position. I thought he had a great year, and he came a long way, and that’s what I expect from Jalen because of the type of football character he has, the type of character he has, the toughness that he has, the love for football that he has. I can’t say enough good things about Jalen, the person, and the player, so I feel good about him. I know again, this wasn’t the game that any of us are going to be satisfied with – me, him, multiple guys on that football team, but I’m really pleased with how he came along this year and the leader he is on this football team.”

Despite the loss, Hurts feels the future is bright in Philadelphia.

“I’m not going to make any expectations for anything, but I know for us as a football team, the sky is the limit,” Hurt said. “And I’ll reiterate, nobody likes this feeling. Nobody likes this feeling. Nobody likes this feeling. We’ll do the things we need to do so we don’t feel this feeling again. I think with the guys that we have, especially in the youth, the young guys we have, we’re hungry. We’re going to come back hungry, but this season was far from a failure. It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it. So, we’ll take it as a lesson; I’ll definitely take it as a lesson. My third year starts tomorrow.”

The Eagles’ 2021 NFL season was a success, but Philadelphia will have an interesting offseason. They have three first-round picks in the upcoming draft. Do they use those assets to trade for a quarterback, or do they use them to build a team around Hurts? 

After the way he played against Tampa Bay, there will be questions about Hurts, and the Eagles will have to answer those questions in the offseason.

NFL announces schedule for Divisional Playoffs

The NFL announced Sunday night the schedule of sites, dates, and times for the Divisional Playoffs on January 22-23.

Saturday, January 22:

AFC:    4:30 PM (ET)              Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans (CBS, Paramount+)

NFC:    8:15 PM (ET)              San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (FOX, FOX Deportes)

Sunday, January 23:

NFC:    3:00 PM (ET) Arizona Cardinals or Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(NBC, Peacock, Universo)

AFC:    6:30 PM (ET)              Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (CBS, Paramount+)