FAB 5. SR’s Bucs Shots
• The reason why the Bucs didn’t pursue former Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, who had been released by Cleveland this week? Haden wasn’t going to start and the Bucs have two starters already in Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves III. Grimes is better than Haden, and the team believes Hargreaves is better suited outside than inside at nickel corner, so there isn’t room for Haden, who will make $7 million in 2017 playing in Pittsburgh.
With Grimes in a contract year and slated to make $6 million in base salary with a $500,000 roster bonus, signing Haden for more money the Bucs would run the risk of rocking the apple cart by signing the former Browns cornerback. The Bucs are interested in re-signing Grimes after the season, but want to see how this year goes and if he is still playing at a high level.
Of course all it would take would be a season-ending injury to Grimes or Hargreaves to make Bucs general manager Jason Licht have regrets. Still, Tampa Bay feels very confident in second-year cornerback Ryan Smith, who has all the physical tools and confidence, but just lacks experience.
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• When the Detroit Lions made quarterback Matthew Stafford the highest-paid player in the NFL with a five-year, $135-million contract extension that features a $50 million signing bonus and $92 million in guaranteed money Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and agent Greg Genske had to smile. Winston is only in the third year of his four-year rookie deal that contains a fifth-year club option that would prevent the 2015 first overall pick from hitting free agency until 2020 if exercised.
The Bucs can begin contract extension talks with Winston and Genske after the 2017 season. If Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans doesn’t beat him to it with a contract extension this year, Winston will be the Bucs’ first $100-million man with a deal that should average over $25 million per year.
Negotiations between the Bucs and Evans haven’t gone as fast as many expected, but once the season begins they could begin to gain more traction. Houston just re-signed wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to a five-year deal worth $81 million, including $49 million in guaranteed money that is $10 million more in total money and in guaranteed money than Atlanta’s Julio Jones. Over the past three years, Evans has more receiving yards, more receiving touchdowns and one less catch.
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• Tampa Bay re-signed quarterback Ryan Griffin to a one-year contract extension through 2018 this week to ensure some stability at the backup quarterback position. Ryan Fitzpatrick will enter the 2017 campaign as Jameis Winston’s backup due in part to Griffin’s shoulder injury in the preseason opener at Cincinnati.
That injury will keep Griffin out of action for a few more weeks and he may even go on injured reserve to save a roster spot. Fitzpatrick was only signed for one year, and at age 34 he’s not the long-term solution. The Bucs were hoping to find out exactly what they have in Griffin, a player they have invested the last two seasons in, during the preseason, but his injury robbed them of that opportunity.
• Bucs defensive end Jacquies Smith started running at One Buccaneer Place this past week following his second knee surgery, but it is uncertain as to his timetable for recovery. Smith wasn’t very forthcoming this week when asked about the likelihood of him being ready to play in the 2017 season opener at Miami.
“I’m not here to disclose that kind of information to people,” Smith said. “Like I said, the progress is going great and I feel a lot better. But at the end of the day, it is what it is. It’s pretty black and white. If I’m out there, I’m out there. It’s that simple. If I’m out there Week 1, I’m out there. If I’m not, I’m not.”
• The Bucs are hopeful that linebacker Devante Bond (knee) will be back in action by the season opener. Bond, who missed most of the preseason and all of his rookie season with a hamstring injury that placed him on injured reserve, was expected to battle rookie Kendell Beckwith for the starting SAM (strongside) linebacker role this year. Instead, Beckwith, who has been healthy, has played well in the preseason and will get the start in Miami in Week 1.
• Thank you for supporting the Pewter Nation Podcast. We are producing two podcasts (30-40 minutes) a week during football season – one mid-week and another one immediately after the Bucs regular season games. Here is a link to the latest Pewter Nation Podcast – Episode 27: Oh Pass Rush, Where Art Thou?
Make sure to visit PewterReport.com Sunday morning for our post-game analysis of Tampa Bay’s preseason home opener against Cleveland in a new Pewter Podcast Podcast, which Mark Cook, Trevor Sikkema and I will record immediately following the Bucs vs. Browns game at the stadium. In addition to listening to the Pewter Nation Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here.
• Here are Dirk Koetter’s final thoughts on the Bucs’ preseason after Thursday night’s brutal game that quite frankly featured a lot of players that just aren’t NFL caliber. The Washington Redskins beat Tampa Bay, 13-10, as both Ryan Fitzpatrick (2-of-7 for 6 yards) and Sefo Liufau struggled to move the ball. Liufau threw a touchdown pass to Bernard Reedy, but also threw a pick-six. Had the Redskins defensive backs held on to the ball, Liufau could have thrown as many as four interceptions in the second half.
‘’I wish we were 4-0, but we’re not. We’re 1-3 and no one will give two craps about that,” Koetter said. “The games – it’s hard to really say how the games took place. You know I was a college coach for 23 years and then I came to the NFL. And preseason football is the weirdest thing because winning really isn’t the thing. In amateur sports, high school and college, you don’t play any games where you’re not trying to win or winning isn’t the thing. And it’s just different. That’s all I can say. Not good or bad. It’s just different.
“We believe the No. 1 thing you have to do in preseason is get through it as healthy as you can. It’s just counterintuitive because you want to put on a good show, you want to put a good product out there, but at the same time, you’re fighting back playing your best players. You’re fighting back showing schemes you don’t want to show. I don’t enjoy that part of it. I love practice. I love the practice part, I love having 90 guys, I love seeing new guys and there’s new players every year that show up and surprise you.”
Because of the uneven play from the Bucs offense and defense in the preseason it’s tough to gauge what type of team Tampa Bay will field this year.
“It’s easy for all of us, myself included, and most of you [in the media] included, to speculate on what type of team we’re going to have based on the preseason,” Koetter said. “But you know what? None of us really know. None of us really know how this group of 53 guys is going to come together and how we’re going to play this season. There’s been a lot of talk – a ton of talk. But the talking is done and it’s time for us to earn it and we’ve got to do our thing next Sunday. If you’re in this business, player or coach, that’s what you’re in it for.”
• Football season is here with college football already underway and the NFL beginning next week. If you’re in Tampa and looking for a great place to catch the action, grab a meal and have some drinks, I highly encourage you to check out North 30th Sports Pub and Grille, which is located at 11402 N. 30th Street in Tampa close to the University of South Florida campus.
Check out their menu on North30thPub.com where you’ll find all of the great food you’d expect at a sport bar, including delicious wings, burgers, pizza, hand-crafted sandwiches, seafood and more. North 30th Sports Pub and Grille has a great drink menu featuring plenty of custom cocktails and ice cold beer on tap. Visit their Facebook page for the latest specials and special events by clicking here.
North 30th Sports Pub and Grille has a family-friendly environment and is a great place to catch all the football action with over 50 big-screen TVs. Make sure to visit North 30th Sports Pub and Grille this football season and tell them PewterReport.com sent you.