Buccaneers exercise fifth-year option on O.J. Howard

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have exercised the fifth-year contract option on tight end O.J. Howard, the team announced today.

After trading for Rob Gronkowski, the thought was Howard could be on the move, but at this point, it appears that Tampa will go into the season with three excellent tight ends in Howard, Gronkowski, and Cameron Brate.

Howard (6-6, 251) was the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. In his first three seasons, he has started 36-of-38 games played, recording 94 receptions for 1,456 yards (15.5 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. His 15.5 yards per reception (min. 30 catches) mark leads all tight ends since he entered the league in 2017.

Bucs’ Arians on Winfield Jr.: ‘He’s part ‘Honey Badger’ (Tyrann Mathieu). and he’s part Budda Baker’

Safety Antoine WInfield Jr. comes from good stock. His father, CB Antoine Winfield Sr., was a three-time Pro Bowler during his 14 seasons in the NFL, and now his son will have the opportunity to carry on his name. 

Winfield Jr., who was selected in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was a 2019 unanimous first-team All-American, first-team All-Big Ten, and Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year at Minnesota.

According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, Winfield is a mix of Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker, two players that Arians coached in Arizona. 

“Yeah again, he’s an extremely bright football player that’s got great bloodlines,” Arians said about Winfield Jr. “He is so position flexible – half-field, deep-field, middle-field, nickel, dime, linebacker – he’s got so many positions he can play. We love to mix it up with our safeties when they’re interchangeable. He’s part’ Honey Badger’ (Tyrann Mathieu), and he’s part Budda Baker – he’s that style of player that we can use in a different type of role along with our other safeties, who are interchangeable.”

Tampa Bay needed to upgrade the back end of their defense, and Winfield definitely has playmaking ability. The 21-year-old Winfield, who had two years left of eligibility, recorded 83 tackles, seven interceptions, and two forced fumbles last season at Minnesota. You could question his height 5’9, but Winfield Jr. is fearless, has good genes, and will probably continue to makes plays in the NFL.

Bucs’ GM: ‘Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in NFL history’

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are back together, and now, the Buccaneers could have one of the best offenses in football. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have acquired  Gronkowski as part of a trade with the New England Patriots, the team announced today. The Buccaneers sent a fourth-round selection (No.139 overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft in exchange for Gronkowski and a 2020 seventh-round pick (No. 241 overall).

Before retiring after the 2018 NFL season, the 30-year-old Gronkowski spent all nine of his NFL seasons (2010-18) in New England, winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots during that time, while earning five Pro Bowl selections.

Gronkowski and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady spent nine seasons together in New England, combining for 78 touchdowns, a mark which ranks second all-time among quarterback-tight end connections and fifth in league history among all quarterback-receiver duos. The 7,786 regular season passing yards accumulated from Brady to Gronkowski also rank second among all quarterback to tight end combinations, trailing only Philip Rivers/Antonio Gates (9,352).

“Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in NFL history, and he plays the game with the type of passion and desire that sets him apart,” said Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht. “Rob has played his entire career alongside Tom Brady, and their accomplishments speak for themselves. Together they have developed the type of chemistry on and off the field that is crucial to success. Rob combines elite-level skills as both a receiver and blocker, but what really makes him special is the fact that he’s a proven winner who brings that championship mindset and work ethic.”

With the addition of Gronkowski, it should be interesting to see what happens with TE O.J. Howard, who had been rumored to be on the trading block. It should be interesting to see if he is dealt during Thursday’s draft.

Obviously, anytime you acquire Brady, you are all in, and right now, it’s clear that the Buccaneers are all in. Gronk might have some rust to dust off, but that year away from football might have done him some good mentally and physically.

Sadly, Gronk will now have to relinquish his WWE 24/7 title that he won at Wrestlemania 36, but that should not be much of an issue. 

For now, with wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and the additions of Brady and Gronkowski, it’s happy times in Tampa Bay!

Bucs GM Licht is right, Winston not a bust

For five seasons, free agent QB Jameis Winston had many ups and downs for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At times, he was spectacular, and at other times, he was a train wreck. Obviously, when the Buccaneers drafted Winston with the number one overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they expected a guy who won a national championship in college, to lead the franchise to big things. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Winston was 28-42 as a starter with the Buccaneers and could not lead the team to the playoffs. It was mixed bag for Winston, and nothing epitomized that more than what happened with him in 2019, where Winston threw for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns, which was canceled out by his 30 interceptions.

Fortunately for Tampa Bay, Winston is gone, and arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady has arrived.

While things did not work out the way Tampa Bay wanted it to with Winston, according to Buccaneers GM Jason Licht, Winston is not a bust and still has a bright future. 

“We have a lot of respect for Jameis,” Licht said during a video call today. “Jameis was still part of our plan if things went a different route. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I thought he did a lot of great things and I think anybody in our office, or our building, would say the same thing. He did some spectacular things for us. I would never say that personally – and I think I speak on behalf of the organization – that he was a bust.

“I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him. It just really comes down to, we had a chance to get Tom Brady. Tom Brady is a hell of a player and we are very excited about that. I’m very confident that Jameis is going to go on and get an opportunity. That’s not the last you’re going to hear from Jameis.”

The 26-year-old Winston still does have a bright future, and he young enough where he could still have success with another team. At this point, it seems that Winston may have to be a backup in 2020, which might not be a bad thing. It could be an opportunity for him to take a step back, and if all goes well, he could go try to find a starting position in 2021. 

Winston is not a bust, but the Buccaneers would love to have had more success during his time in Tampa Bay.

Photos: Buccaneers reveal new jerseys

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers today introduced a fresh look for the 2020 season with the unveiling of a trio of new uniforms that feature the distinctive style that defined the franchise’s most successful era from 1997- 2013.

After conducting extensive research among its fans, the team worked with Nike and the National Football League to deliver a uniform that seamlessly blends the best elements of its last two designs while also introducing a new all-pewter Color Rush option.

Buccaneers Owner/Co-Chairman Ed Glazer stated: “This new but familiar look is a direct result of the valuable feedback we received from our fans. We are excited to return to our classic Super Bowl era uniforms while also introducing a sleek Color Rush uniform that showcases our signature pewter in a new and dramatic way. The refreshed classic design of our home and away combinations bridges our past with our exciting new future, and we are confident it will resonate with our fans.”

Tampa Bay returns to the traditional deeper, richer red to accompany the modern pewter hue as its primary colors while including orange highlights to honor the team’s origin and restoring black as an accent color.

Both the red home and white away jerseys are one solid color and feature the familiar “Twill” number font outlined in orange and black, which will coordinate with the familiar red-orange-black striped pattern on the side of the pewter and white pants. All are part of the innovative Nike Untouchable Speed chassis providing upgraded technology for optimal performance. The pewter pants do not have the same high sheen as the original versions used in the late ‘90s and early 2000s due to changes in Nike’s fabric technology. Black and white socks will be worn with the home and away uniforms.

The Buccaneers’ pewter helmet shell will remain unchanged but will now be accompanied by a menacing black face mask. Additionally, a scaled-down version of the club’s iconic wind-swept flag logo will adorn either side of the helmet, a change made to better accommodate the various sizes and shapes of headgear used by today’s players. The cutlass, skull and crossed swords of the primary logo will remain intact over the deeper red.

The club’s refreshed pirate ship will be embroidered principally in black on both shoulders, while the front of the jerseys will have the “Buccaneers” wordmark embroidered below the collar in the team’s updated font.

For the first time ever, the Buccaneers will wear a pewter jersey with matching pants as part of their Color Rush uniform ensemble. The head-to-toe pewter look also includes red and white stripes along the sides of the pewter pants and solid pewter socks. Red pirate ship logos on each shoulder and a red “Buccaneers” wordmark on the chest will accent the bold new scheme. The team will be permitted to wear the uniforms three times in the regular season.

Photos:

Devin_WhiteChris_GodwinFL: 2020 HelmetLavonte_DavidFL: 2020 Uniform Update

Buccaneers re-sign CB Ryan Smith

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed CB Ryan Smith, the team announced.

The 26-year-old Smith appeared in 57 games, including 16 starts, for Tampa Bay, notching 98 tackles (one for loss), 12 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception over his first four seasons in the league.

On special teams, Smith has notched 15 tackles and a forced fumble, while also returning ten kickoffs for 169 yards (16.9 avg.). He led Tampa Bay with seven special teams tackles in 2019.

Last season, Smith was suspended for the first four games after violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The fifth-year cornerback returned to the field in Week 5.

McNabb on Patriots: ‘I say you either go get Matthew Stafford or bring Jameis Winston in’

Over the past two decades, the New England Patriots have had no issues at the quarterback position. However, on Friday, six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Now, the Patriots have to figure what to do at the quarterback position. Currently, they have three quarterbacks under contract in Cody Kessler, Brian Hoyer, and Jarrett Stidham.

But if it was up to former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, the Patriots should try to trade for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, or go after the man Tom Brady replaced in Tampa Bay, Jameis Winston, who is an unrestricted free agent.

“I say you either go get Matthew Stafford or bring Jameis Winston in,” McNabb told TMZ Sports. “Two younger guys that you could at least get the next five or six years with if you continue to stress protecting the football, getting the ball out on time, knowing what you’re seeing, knowing the plays. And these two quarterbacks from what you heard are cerebral, and they will be able to pick up things quickly.”

McNabb does believe Winston, who threw for over 5000 yards and 33 touchdowns but threw 30 interceptions in 2019, would work well in the Patriots’ system.

“It’s easy to point the finger at a quarterback that throws 30 interceptions,” McNabb said. “Philip Rivers threw 20. Eli Manning has thrown twenty-plus(interceptions). It’s easy for people to finger point at Jameis Winston because they either don’t like him or his past…

“I think he(Winston) would kind of flourish in the New England offense where he would be under the tutelage of Josh McDaniels. He would be under the Belichick way, where It would be more dink-and-dunk, protect the football, and all a sudden, we’re talking about New England again, possibly winning the AFC East.

Also, according to McNabb, signing Winston would give the Patriots a chance to prove that their system works. 

“I think for Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, this gives them an opportunity to separate themselves from the Tom Brady era, to show that their system works,” he said.

Both Winston and Stafford have a lot of ability, but Winston could come cheaper than the 32-year-old Stafford, who is scheduled to make $21.3 million in 2020. Also, Winston is younger(26), and since Winston is a free agent, you would not have to give up anything to get him. Furthermore, at this point, we don’t know if Stafford is even available.

In the past, the Patriots have been known to take other team’s problems, and have found ways to make it work, so maybe they could do the same with Winston.

HOF Roaf on Winston: ‘I think there’s something not right mentally'(AUDIO)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston put up some big numbers in 2019. However, all those big numbers were not positive. Winston became the eighth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season(5,109 yards). He also threw 33 touchdown passes. Here is the bad: Winston threw 30 interceptions in 2019, and became the first player to join the 30-30 club(30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in one season).

The fifth-year quarterback can become a free agent in the offseason, and the Buccaneers will have an interesting decision to make. Do they bring him back, or do they let him walk? 

Winston made $20.9 million in 2019.  

If it were up to Hall of Famer Willie Roaf, he would bring Winston back, but at a reduced rate, and if it were up to Roaf, Tampa would bring in a reliable backup just in case Winston struggles. 

“I think there’s something not right mentally there; I don’t think it’s nothing personal,” Roaf recently told the Go4it podcast. “If you want to bring him back at a reduced salary, I’ll bring him back at a reduced salary. Maybe $10 million, but I gotta bring somebody else in there to push him, so I know I got a reliable backup like (Ryan) Fitzpatrick(played in Tampa in 2018), “FitzMagic.” The way he played in the second half of the season was amazing at his age, and the way he went in there and beat the Patriots..

“Because he(Winston) played so well in spurts, you bring him back, but I gotta bring somebody in there that will motivate him, that’s going to push him; that’s a real good quarterback..

“If he keeps throwing those picks, he’s going to lose a defense, he’s going to lose a team, so guys are not going to respond because every time they go out there, ‘Okay, we know he’s going to throw some touchdowns, we know he’s going to throw some picks.”

The 26-year-old Winston has a lot of ability, but to Roaf’s point, something is missing. It’s tough to win in the NFL, and it’s even harder to win when your quarterback throws 30 interceptions. 

I don’t think Tampa Bay can bring him back, especially after the numbers he put up this season. However, if the price is right, maybe the Buccaneers will consider it, but there is no way Tampa can give him $20 to 30 million a year.  

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians recently said this about Winston:

“If we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one, too.”

Welp, Bruce, it might be time to see if you can win without Winston.

Listen to the complete interview with Roaf as he talks Jameis Winston: