The 2014 free agency period began with a bang as the Buccaneers agreed to terms with three new players, signing Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and Giants tight end Brandon Myers right out of the gate at 4:00 p.m. ET.
The Buccaneers are far from through as the Darrelle Revis situation is still in limbo with the latest being the Raiders have dropped out of consideration leaving, as of now, just the Cleveland Browns in the running to trade for the Pro Bowl cornerback and absorb his $16 million salary in 2014.
While many were fixated on the possible big names coming to Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers made a handful of other moves, re-signing some of their own free agents, and also seeing a few depart to other teams.
Here is the latest breakdown of some of the under the radar transactions from Tuesday:
STAYING IN TAMPA BAYOL Jamon MeredithMeredith has proven to be a valuable backup for the Buccaneers, having filled in at guard for parts of two seasons after injuries to Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph. Meredith signed a two-year deal with Tampa Bay and also has added value as a swing tackle capable of playing right tackle or left tackle in a pinch. Meredith’s versatility was most likely something that prompted the Buccaneers to keep him.
CB Danny GorrerGorrer battled a hamstring injury in 2013 before ending up on injured reserve after Week 7. The versatile cornerback is best known for dropping a Nick Foles interception that could have sealed the win against the Eagles back in 2012, but has done enough for new general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith to want to see more. Gorrer signed a one-year contract to remain in Tampa Bay.
WR/KR Eric PagePage showed promising flashes last season as a kick returner, but also had a handful of mental errors and miscues that frustrated the coaching staff. With Dexter McCluster signing with Tennessee, and Devin Hester still not committed any where as of yet, Page could be a backup plan. Page signed a one-year contract as an exclusive rights free agent.
CB Deveron CarrCarr was signed as an undrafted free agent last spring and started the season on the Bucs practice squad before being promoted to the active roster and seeing primarily special teams action in nine games for Tampa Bay in 2013. Carr signed a one-year contract as an exclusive rights free agent.
LEAVING TAMPA BAYOLB Adam HaywardHayward has been a valuable backup linebacker and special teams standout over the last seven seasons, but was never able to sustain a starting spot other than occasional fill-in duty. Hayward signed a three-year, $3 million dollar deal with the Washington Redskins, including $300,000 in guaranteed according to reports.OLB Dekoda WatsonWatson is scheduled to visit the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday night and according to reports could also be set to visit Buffalo and Miami where former Bucs Pro Personnel Director Dennis Hickey is now the Dolphins new general manager. A report earlier in the day stated Watson would not be back with the Buccaneers. The Bucs re-signed starting strongside linebacker Jonathan Casillas last week, which signaled the end of Watson’s tenure in Tampa Bay.
SCHEDULED TO VISIT ONE BUC PLACEQB Josh McCownChicago Bears free agent Josh McCown is visiting with Tampa Bay Tuesday evening but is not expected to sign a contract if offered, as he reportedly has at least one visit still to take, which could be Houston, before making a decision. McCown is expected to command a considerable higher salary than 2013 starting quarterback Mike Glennon will earn in 2014, which could speak volumes about the direction Tampa Bay is heading. At the same time, general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith have both stated they expect to add a veteran to the mix in Tampa Bay and McCown, who played for Smith in Chicago, fits that bill.
CB Charles TillmanThe 6-foot-2, 198-pound cornerback has been a big-time playmaker for the Bears during his 11-year career. Tillman has forced an astonishing 42 fumbles and picked off 36 passes, including eight he’s returned for touchdowns. Tillman, who tore his right triceps in a November 10 loss to Detroit, could be a nice, stop-gap option at the cornerback position in Tampa Bay to fortify the Bucs’ pass defense in the pass-happy NFC South division. Age is the only concern about Tampa Bay signing the 33-year old Tillman, who played for Smith in Chicago.
OT Anthony CollinsCollins, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 315 pounds, had a strong 2013 season playing in 15 games for Cincinnati with eight starts, filling in at times for injured left tackle Andrew Whitworth and replacing right tackle Andre Smith for poor play on a few occasions. According to Pro Football Focus, Collins played in 389 pass plays last year, allowing no sacks, just one quarterback hit and 14 QB pressures. With the Bengals investing heavily into Whitworth and Smith, Collins was deemed expendable once his contract demands were more than Cincinnati was willing to pay. Collins has not given up a sack in the last 37 games, including 13 starts.
C Evan Dietrich-SmithDietrich-Smith started all 16 games for the Packers in 2013 and is also drawing interest from a number of other teams, including the New York Giants. The agent for Dietrich-Smith confirmed he would be visiting Tampa Bay as early as Wednesday. If signed, the Buccaneers will have a decision to make on center Jeremy Zuttah, who is scheduled to earn $4.5 million in 2014. It is possible Zuttah could be kept and moved to right guard to replace Davin Joseph, who was released on Saturday.
LB Dane FletcherFletcher was a reserve linebacker for Bill Belichick in New England last year, in addition to being a special teams standout. Fletcher could assume Hayward and Watson’s role as a special teams ace while also providing linebacker depth that is sorely missing at this point.
RELEASEDK Lawrence TynesTynes and the Buccaneers had a very public nasty divorce last fall when Tynes contracted MRSA during training camp and was not placed on injured reserve but instead the non-football injury list. That designation caused Tynes wife Amanda to take to Twitter in an attempt to shame the organization.
– Scott Reynolds contributed to this story
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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