Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has been suspended without pay for one game for violations of the NFL unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, the league announced on Monday.
He will be eligible to return to the Buccaneers’ active roster on Monday, September 26, following the team’s September 25 game against Green Bay.
Evans was involved in an off-field scuffle with Saints corner Marshawn Lattimore in the Bucs’ 20-10 victory over the Saints on Sunday in New Orleans.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan, who issued the suspension, wrote the following letter to Evans explaining the suspension.
“After a play had ended, you were walking toward your sidelines. When you noticed your teammates engaged in a confrontation with Saints’ players, you ran toward that area on the field and violently threw your body into and struck an unsuspecting opponent who was part of that confrontation. You knocked your opponent to the ground, and a melee ensued involving players from both teams. Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury to your opponent and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional.”
After the suspension came down, Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles gave his thoughts on what happened.
“Yes, he’ll get one game,” Bowles said about Evans’ suspension. “I found out about 10 minutes ago. He’ll have a one-game suspension. Like I said, the fighting alone loses a player for the next game [and] it hurts our team because we lose a very good ballplayer. We don’t want that, we don’t condone it, and we’ve got to move forward and try to find a way to win without him. But that should be a lesson to all of our other players.”
Evans appeared to be defending Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, but according to Bowles, there’s a “right way” to stand up for your teammates.
“It’s always a fine line,” Bowles said. “This is a controlled-aggression game. It’s a controlled-aggression game, and you try to protect your teammates, but you’ve got to do it the right way.”
Last week, Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles completed his requirements for a bachelor of science in youth and community development from Mount St. Mary’s University.
Bowles began his studies in 2020 during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl-winning season. The 58-year-old attended Temple University until 1985, before he entered the NFL.
Thirty-seven years later, Bowles finally came through on his promise to his mother.
“As a coach, I don’t think I can use it very much,” Bowles said about his degree. “As a father, it’s a good time to get it because I have a sophomore at Rutgers, and I have one that’s a senior now and one that’s in sixth grade. So, just getting that hopefully helps them get theirs, and they can do something with it. For me, it was a personal thing as far as a promise I made to my mother before she passed that I would go back and get it. Sometimes life gets in the way, and things come up, and you finally put your foot down, and you try and do it. So, it’s something that I just did.”
Bowles got his degree while working full-time as an NFL coach, which wasn’t easy.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Bowles said of working full-time and going to school. “I get to work early, do some work early, listen to some podcasts early, do some online stuff early, then do a little bit late and you make the best of it.”
While Bowles got his degree later in life, he recommends that people get their degrees as early as possible.
“I think you need to get [a degree] early as possible so you can do something with it – but at the same time, for the people that go back and get it, it’s a sense of personal accomplishment, and hopefully, it gives someone hope that it’s never too late,” Bowles said. “You’d rather get it earlier than later, but better to get it when you can.”
Bowles plans to attend the commencement ceremony in May 2023.
In March, Tom Brady decided to return for his 23rd season, and he told the world at the time that he had some “unfinished business.”
Brady, who has won seven Super Bowls and wants another one, will be 45 on August 3, so the time is now.
On Monday, Brady addressed the media for the first time during training camp and discussed his comments about unfinished business.
“We’re just going to do the best we can do,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of work between now [and then] – it’s August 1. There’s a lot of time. Nobody knows what the team is going to look like – you think you have a center, and then he gets injured, so the team is different in one day. There’s a long time between now and the first game.”
Over the past few seasons, the Buccaneers have grabbed some decent talent in free agency, and they recently signed seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones. Brady has been around a long time, but according to him, he’s not always the reason players want to come to Tampa Bay.
“Naturally, I’m an older player, and I’ve been very fortunate to know a lot of guys,” he said. “Guys choose this team because of the team, not because of me. We have a great organization, great teammates, and I think people are excited to come join a great group of people and great group of men. It’s never about one person – it has never been what this sport has been about. It’s the ultimate team sport, and I love playing with players that our professional, players that want to work hard, and players that put the team first.”
One thing that could cause some issues for Brady is the injury to Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen, who is expected to miss significant time due to a left knee injury. Without Jensen, Brady will have to count on second-year center Robert Hainsey.
“He’s worked really hard,” Brady said about Hainsey. “Obviously, everyone’s heartbroken with what happened, Ryan [Jensen]. So, that’ll take a little time, but ‘Haines’ (Robert Hainsey) has to step into the job and do a great job. He’s worked hard last year, really gained the trust with a lot of people, and he has to go earn it. Like all of us, it’s not what you did [or] how hard you worked in the offseason; it’s how good of a football player are you. It’s to be determined for all of us.”
The moment Brady announced his return was the moment the Bucs were all in on 2022. They finished their business in 2020, and they hope, with the help of Brady, to take care of their unfinished business in 2022.
For the first 10 seasons of his career, tight end Kyle Rudolph was a member of the Minnesota Vikings, but for the second year in a row, Rudolph will be playing for another team.
On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed Rudolph.
The 32-year-old is entering his 12th NFL season and spent last season with the New York Giants. He played in 16 games with 13 starts – missing the Nov. 28 victory against Philadelphia with an ankle injury – and caught 26 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown (a one-yarder at Kansas City).
He had a season-high four receptions vs. the Raiders and the Giants’ longest catch of the season, a 60-yarder against the Chargers in Los Angeles on Dec. 12.
Rudolph twice earned Pro Bowl honors (2012, 2017) as a member of the Vikings, and in 2016, set career single-season highs in receptions (83) and receiving yards (840) in 2016.
The former second-round pick (No. 43 overall) of the Vikings in the 2011 NFL Draft has appeared in 156 career games, including 145 starts, tallying 479 receptions for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns. Additionally, he has appeared in six postseason games, all starts, and recorded 16 receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Since entering the league in 2011, Rudolph ranks fourth among tight ends in receiving touchdowns, eighth in receptions, eighth in yards after catch (2,124), ninth in receiving first downs (264), and 10th in receiving yards.
Rudolph should give the Buccaneers more depth at the tight end position after the retirement of Rob Gronkowski.
At the end of the 2021 season, rumors surfaced that Tom Brady may retire after 22 seasons, which he officially announced in February.
However, he changed his mind in March and decided to return. On Thursday, the Buccaneers concluded Mandatory Minicamp, and Brady discussed many things, including his return to football, the possible return of Rob Gronkowski, rumors of joining the Dolphins, his relationship with Bruce Arians, upcoming 2022 NFL season.
(On his decision to return to football for another season)
“It feels like a long time ago. A lot has happened between now and then. It was just a lot of different things. It was awhile ago. I feel like I’ve kind of moved past that point to be honest. But I’m happy I’m back with my teammates. It’s going to be a great year. We’re going to work really hard. We have high expectations for what we are trying to accomplish. We’ve got a lot of good players – it doesn’t matter much – we’ve got to go out and do it. We’ve got to go earn it. We’ve got some competitive practices coming up. I’m most excited about this team and what we can try to accomplish.”
(On how he can improve his game in 2022 from his performance in 2021)
“In a lot of different ways. I think that’s a good question and it’s a good opportunity for us to all evaluate where we are at and what we need to do better. I always feel like there are things that can be improved on in different areas. I think how I evaluate myself and my teammates is very different than how other people would.”
(On the conversation with his family when he told them he was thinking of returning to football for another season)
“I think it’s really important. I said last week or two weeks ago – it’s very easy when you’re 25 to know what you want to do the next year. It’s very challenging when you’re 43 or 44 because there is a lot of other things that are pressing and a lot of other things that are really important in your life, like your kids and your wife and different relationships. Things have always taken a back seat to football – that’s just how it has gone for me. It’s challenging and I’ve just got to work at those things. It is part of what is challenging about things that happen in my life – just different decisions are made. I have a great life and I have zero complaints about it. I just try to do the best I can do. There are other significant, very important things that happen, and I think when the football season starts, everybody knows that it is 100 percent football. It’s just the way you have to be and it’s a big commitment to make. Then in order to play every game, you have to train really hard, so I’ve got to train really hard at 44 years old, which is a big commitment. To try to make those decisions has its challenges. It’s not like it was when I was 25. I don’t think any of us feel like we did when we were 25, but thankfully for good reasons there are parts where I am happy I’m not 25. Then there are other parts where I wish I felt like I was a little more like 25. I have a very complex, tricky life in different aspects and I’m just trying to navigate it the best way I can.”
(On the potential return of TE Rob Gronkowski)
“I think it’s just, obviously, totally up to him. We’d all love to play with him, but he’s got to make the best decision for himself, and he knows that. Anybody that cares about him knows that he is doing what’s right for him, which is trying to figure it out. We don’t have training camp for about six weeks, so whatever he has to do to figure it out. I think we will be hopeful if he does. And if he doesn’t, we’ve still got to go out there and figure out what to do.”
(On if the reports suggesting he and Arians had a strained relationship bothered him)
“See, I don’t read a lot of them. There are a lot of things that aren’t right that are said. I think the thing is – you try and come out and respond to everything that is not right [but] we don’t have to be right very often. We just have to be right every so often these days. I think if people click on it, then you read more of it, and obviously they’re clicking on it, so it’s what people want and what is talked about. It may not be accurate and that’s O.K. – I don’t make every pass either. I don’t complete every pass, so I understand not everyone can get it right all of the time.”
(On his relationship with Senior Advisor to the General Manager and former Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians and if there were any ‘substantive issues’ in their relationship)
“Zero whatsoever. He and I have a great relationship. I think that’s part of why I chose here was because of Bruce. He and I have been in incredible communication, and I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him, and that’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”
(On if there is any truth to the reports that he was interested in joining the Miami Dolphins in any capacity)
“Again, I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people as I’ve had for the last three or four years in my career about different opportunities when I am done playing football. I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do. I’ll get to be in the game of football. I think the most important thing is where I’m at now and what I hope to do for this team. That has been my commitment to this team and organization. It’s been so much fun [since] I came here two years ago. It’s been almost two and a half years now, and it’s been an incredible part of my football journey. It’s not over – we’ve still got a lot to accomplish. I’ve got a long life ahead and there are a lot of fun things to do ahead. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead in football. But at the same time, none of us are promised much beyond what we have now, and this is the current moment. I’m really excited about going out there and trying to compete and win a championship.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed former Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks, the team announced Wednesday.
According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, it’s a one-year deal worth $10 million.
The 32-year-old Hicks comes to Tampa Bay after spending the previous six seasons as a member of the Chicago Bears (2016-21), which included a 2018 Pro Bowl selection.
Last season, Hicks, who battled injuries, had 3.5 sacks in nine games.
During his time in Chicago, Hicks started all 77 games in which he played, recording 247 tackles (51 for loss), 88 quarterback hits, 31.0 sacks, eight passes defensed, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Since he joined the Bears in 2016, Hicks ranks fifth among interior defensive linemen in tackles for loss (51), seventh in quarterback hits (88) and eighth in sacks (31.0).
Originally a third-round selection (No. 89 overall) by the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft, Hicks played for the Saints (2012-15) and the New England Patriots (2015) prior to signing with Chicago.
Over 138 career games, including 110 starts, Hicks has tallied 387 tackles (73 for loss), 111 quarterback hits, 40.5 sacks, nine passes defensed, six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. He has appeared in six career postseason games, recording 20 tackles (two for loss), four quarterback hits and a half-sack.
With the addition of Hicks, Tampa Bay might be moving on from Ndamukong Suh, who currently is an unrestricted free agent after spending the last three seasons in Tampa.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed safety Keanu Neal and re-signed quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the team announced Wednesday.
Neal, 26, played linebacker last season in Dallas, but he’s expected to go back to safety in Tampa. brings six years of NFL experience to Tampa Bay.
The six-year veteran appeared in 63 career regular season games, with 53 starts, while playing for the Falcons (2016-20) and Dallas Cowboys (2021), earning 2016 NFL All-Rookie honors and a 2017 Pro Bowl selection. During that time, Neal has tallied 402 tackles (19 for loss), 16 passes defensed, eight forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, two interceptions and 2.0 sacks.
In his rookie season in 2016, Neal was part of a Falcons team that won an NFC title and advanced to Super Bowl LI. He has started all five postseason games in which he has appeared, recording 41 tackles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed.
After losing Jordan Whitehead to the Jets in free agency, they added former Giants safety Logan Ryan and now they add more talent to the backend of the defense in Neal.
The 32-year-old Gabbert has appeared in 10 games with the Buccaneers over the last two seasons in Tampa Bay (2020-21), completing 16-of-27 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns, earning a 108.6 passer rating.
He originally signed with Tampa Bay on March 27, 2019, but spent his first season with the Buccaneers on Injured Reserve. The 11-year veteran was a member of Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV championship roster.
Gabbert entered the league as a first-round pick (10th overall) of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2011 NFL Draft, spending three seasons with the Jaguars (2011-13) before playing for the San Francisco 49ers (2014-16), Arizona Cardinals (2017) and Tennessee Titans (2018). Gabbert has appeared in 66 career games, with 48 starts, completing 858-of-1,525 passes for 9,273 yards. He has thrown 50 touchdowns and 47 interceptions, for a 72.4 passer rating. He has also rushed 195 times for 640 yards and three touchdowns.
Tom Brady is back; Chris Godwin is back, and now Leonard Fournette has returned.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed re-signed Fournette, the team announced Wednesday.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a three-year deal worth $21 million.
The 27-year-old Fournette returns to Tampa Bay for a third season after leading the Buccaneers in both rushing yards (812) and rushing touchdowns (eight) in 2021.
Since joining the Buccaneers as a free agent in 2020, Fournette has played in 27 regular-season games, with 16 starts, recording 277 carries for 1,179 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. He has also contributed 105 receptions for 687 yards and two receiving touchdowns.
The five-year veteran has played in and started five playoff games since joining the Buccaneers and stands as Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in both career postseason rushing yards (351) and scrimmage yards (555) while ranking second in rushing touchdowns (five), scrimmage touchdowns (six) and receptions (27).
During their run to the Super Bowl in 2020, Fournette put forth one of the best statistical playoff performances in NFL postseason history, leading the team in rushing yards (300), rushing touchdowns (three), scrimmage touches (82), scrimmage yards (448), scrimmage touchdowns (four) and receptions (18) during the 2021 NFL Playoffs.
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). Fournette’s 448 scrimmage yards marked the most in team history for a single postseason and the ninth-most in NFL history for a single postseason.
Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, came to Tampa Bay after spending his first three NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2017-19).
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers today re-signed cornerback Carlton Davis III.
According to Josina Anderson, it’s a three-year, $45 million deal.
In 2021, the 25-year-old Davis started all ten games in which he played for a defense that finished fifth in fewest points per game allowed (20.8) and seventh in fewest yards per play allowed (5.16). Davis did miss seven games last season due to a quad injury.
“Carlton is a fantastic player. I’ve said for a few years that I thought he was one of the top cornerbacks in this league, and he has continued to grow,” said Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians via a statement from the team. “He’s a great tackler, excellent in man-to-man defense, a very physical corner, and has the length you want. He has everything you are looking for to be a shut-down corner. He’s also developed off the field so much, leading our social justice program and all the things he’s doing for our organization. He’s a huge, huge asset to our football team.”
According to Davis, the return of Tom Brady played a role in his decision to rejoin the Buccaneers.
“ObvIously, having Tom come back automatically makes us a contender again. Who wouldn’t want to come back and compete for another ring with the G.O.A.T? When I heard the news, it definitely played into some of my thought process going into my decision.”
Davis’ 48 passes defensed since the start of the 2019 season are the most in the NFL during that span. He is also tied for the league lead in games with multiple passes defensed (13) and has the most games with at least three passes defensed (six).
Over his four seasons with the Buccaneers, Davis has amassed 205 tackles (nine for loss), 52 passes defensed, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. He has also started all six of Tampa Bay’s playoff games over the past two seasons, including Super Bowl LV, recording 28 tackles and four passes defensed.
Davis has appeared in 51 regular-season games, making 50 starts, for the Buccaneers since the team selected him in the second round (No. 63 overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft.