When it came to outside free agents, the Buccaneers stood on the sidelines through the first day of the 2015 league year, and instead, focused on signing their own players.
The Bucs reached agreements with cornerback Leonard Johnson and running back Bobby Rainey on Tuesday. The former was set to become a restricted free agent, but the Bucs weren’t willing to give him a $1.5 million tender. Presumably this means that they have worked out a cheaper deal.
Their unwillingness to commit to the tender suggests that the team views Johnson as more of a situational and special teams player, rather than a full-time nickel corner. In his third season last year, the Iowa State product played in all 16 games in a rotational role, totaling 51 tackles, three pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He also recorded his first and only interception during the season finale against New Orleans.
As for Rainey, last year’s team leading rusher was in a similar situation to Johnson, only he received the franchise tender, which now puts his 2015 salary at $1.5 million. Last season the fourth-year pro played in 15 games with five starts, rushing for 406 yards and one touchdown on 94 carries. He also had 33 receptions for 315 yards and one touchdown.
With this signing, the Buccaneers currently have four running backs on their roster. Aside from Rainey, they have Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Mike James.
Tampa Bay’s biggest move of the afternoon, however, came when they released Anthony Collins, who signed a five-year, $30 million deal last March. In the decision that was highly anticipated, the Buccaneers saved $3 million dollars by jettisoning the underperforming left tackle.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org