Rodgers rushed three times for three yards and brought in his only target for two yards in the Buccaneers’ 34-32 loss to the Falcons on Sunday.
Rodgers wrapped up the 2018 campaign in modest fashion, but the veteran was actually much more involved than what would have been expected prior to the season. In fact, Rodgers was no lock for a roster spot until Charles Sims went down with a knee issue in preseason and was subsequently released with an injury settlement. Rodgers ultimately saw action in all 17 games, although he failed to log any offensive touches in three contests overall. However, the veteran was often deployed as Peyton Barber’s primary backup, given that rookie second-round pick Ronald Jones II had trouble staying healthy and was ineffective whenever he did log playing time. Rodgers finished with a modest 106 rushing yards and a touchdown on 33 carries (3.2 yards per rush), but he posted his best reception (38) and receiving yardage (304) totals since the 2013 campaign in Atlanta. A personal favorite of former coach Dirk Koetter from their time together with the Falcons, Rodgers, now an unrestricted free agent, still may struggle to find a role in Tampa Bay’s new regime in 2019 and might test the market.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers must rely on Carl Nassib and Noah Spence in 2019 with the bad news of Jason Pierre-Paul; opportunity awaits the two of them.
After the news of Tampa Bay Buccaneers leading sack lead from 2018 Jason Pierre-Paul fracturing his neck and potentially missing all of the 2019 season, two players in contract years have a huge opportunity in front of them. Not only do the Buccaneers need both Noah Spence and Carl Nassib to step up to the plate in Pierre-Paul’s absence, but they have potential earnings on the line as well.
Nassib is slated to make just over $2 million this upcoming season, and if he can put together another season like he did in 2018, he could be looking at a contract at about triple that number. However, he is staring significantly more playing time in the face this season and has the potential to see a steep increase in salary on his next contract.
Last season, after being cut by the Cleveland Browns and claimed by the Buccaneers, Nassib put together his best season yet in his third year. Nassib managed to tally six and a half sacks, more than his first two years combined, 12 tackles for loss, and 14 hits on opposing quarterbacks in a rotational role. He ranked above average and in the green with a score of 69.5 according to Pro Football Focus as well (subscription required).
Spence, highly touted by the current coaching staff (yes, we have heard this before), has a cap hit of just under $2 million this season in the last year of his rookie deal. While he has not panned out as the pass rusher he was advertised as when he was a second round pick in 2016, all it takes is a breakout year in a contract year to see a nice payday. This opportunity is presented to Spence in 2019, but will he finally take advantage?
Thus far, three years into his career, Spence has only started six total games for the Buccaneers, and has missed time with an injury over the past two seasons; last season, he lost favor with defensive coordinator Mike Smith and did not see the field often; he graded out at a below average 49.5 according to PFF when he was on the field though. He has tallied only six and a half sacks and three tackles for loss in his career.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed linebacker Kendell Beckwith on the
reserve/non-football injury list on Friday. Beckwith missed the entire
2018 season, his second in the NFL, after sustaining an ankle injury in a
car accident in the spring and subsequently undergoing surgery.
Beckwith will not count against the Buccaneers’ 90-man offseason roster limit.
Beckwith’s NFL career began in promising fashion, as the
third-round pick out of LSU won the Buccaneers’ starting strongside
linebacker job at the start of his rookie campaign. He later moved to
middle linebacker when Kwon Alexander missed a month due to injury and
performed well in that capacity as well. In all, Beckwith played in all
16 games in 2017, logging nine starts and contributing 73 tackles, one
sack, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Beckwith’s professional career even include an impressive return
from injury, as an ACL tear ended his last season at LSU prematurely.
That mishap occurred in November of 2016 and the Buccaneers selected him
with the 107th overall pick without knowing if he would be fully
recovered by the start of the 2017 season. Instead, Beckwith was cleared
to start training camp and never had a setback with his knee. However,
his second bit of injury misfortune – he was a passenger in the car
involved in the accident – has proved more difficult to overcome.
Beckwith began the 2018 season on the NFI list and did return to the
practice field during a three-week roster-exemption window around
midseason, but he was not subsequently cleared to return to game action.
Jordan Whitehead was not a fantasy star but was worth starting most weeks. He was the #386 ranked fantasy player this season. His ranking drops slightly if you base things on average fantasy points where he is the #106 DB. He showed improvement from his start of the season to the middle of his season, but then his production dropped off. In his middle 5 games he averaged 5.1 fantasy points which was higher than his start (4 FP) and his ending average (4.5 FP). He is young, so his late season drop-off should not be an indicator of an overall downward trend heading into next season. His standard deviation divided by his average is 0.49 which is close to the league ratio. He averaged 4.6 FPs, but on any given day his projected ceiling is as high as 10 fantasy points. Jordan Whitehead (2019 Season Projection: 59 Solo, 26 Ast, 0.6 Sacks, 0.9 INTs, 5.9 PDs) is projected to improve in the upcoming season. His rank based on total projected fantasy points has him as the #69 player at his position.
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PAST FANTASY PERFORMANCE (2018)
Jordan Whitehead played in 14 games in 2018. He was the #88 ranked fantasy DB based on total fantasy points. He averaged 4.6 FP per game (#106 ranked based on average).
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got off to a blistering pace with the
signing of their 2018 draft picks on Thursday, getting signatures from
half of that eight-man class within hours of the rookies first stepping
foot inside One Buccaneer Place. That work continued on Saturday as
third-round offensive lineman Alex Cappa signed his first NFL contract.
Cappa joins second-round cornerback M.J. Stewart, fourth-round
safety Jordan Whitehead, fifth-round wide receiver Justin Watson and
sixth-round linebacker Jack Cichy in the group with completed deals. The
only remaining unsigned players are first-round defensive tackle Vita
Vea, second-round running back Ronald Jones and second-round cornerback
Cappa and his fellow Buccaneer newcomers arrived at team
headquarters on Thursday in preparation for this weekend’s rookie
mini-camp. The camp includes 2018 draftees, a group of 14 undrafted free
agent signees and roughly 30 players participating on tryout contracts.
The rookies will first begin work alongside Buccaneer veterans when the
“organized team activity” practices begin on May 22. That will be the
first chance for Cappa and the other rookies to begin competing for
roster spots and positions on the depth chart.
General Manager Jason Licht indicated after the draft that the team
hoped to develop the versatile and athletic Cappa into a blocker who
could handle all five positions on the offensive line. As for a chance
to compete for an earlier job in the starting lineup, Cappa’s best bet
is likely at right guard, which is currently a bit unsettled. Potential
candidates include third-year man Caleb Benenoch and veteran J.R.
Sweezy. However, Benenoch may also be needed at right tackle with Demar
Dotson recovering from knee surgery, and Sweezy has not yet returned to
the field after finishing last season on injured reserve.
The 6-6, 305-pound Cappa faces a significant transition after
playing his college ball at Humboldt State, a Division II program in the
Great Northwest Athletic Conference, but he only needs to look as far
as teammate Ali Marpet to see that it can be done. Marpet hails from an
even smaller program, Division III Hobart, but the Buccaneers drafted
him in the second round in 2015 and inserted him directly into the
starting lineup. Marpet, who has started at both right guard and center,
is now making another transition of his own, to left guard.
Cappa dominated for the Lumberjacks, winning the GNAC Offensive
Lineman of the Year award four straight years. The first player drafted
out of Humboldt State since 1992, Cappa was selected with the 94th
overall pick (the highest one ever used on a Humboldt State player)
after the Buccaneers surrendered a sixth-round pick to trade up from the
With their second round selection, here are five players the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could target with the 39th overall pick in the draft.
With the debate raging about who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should take with the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft between Devin White, Ed Oliver, and others, not much is talked about with who could be selected with the 39th pick in the draft. The Buccaneers have had several players in for pre-draft visits who would fit the bill with their second round selection, it is just a matter of how general manager Jason Licht has his draft board prioritized.
Over the past three drafts, Noah Spence, Roberto Aguayo, Justin Evans, Ronald Jones, Carlton Davis, and M.J. Stewart have been selected by Licht. Needless to say, he does not have a great track record when it comes to second round picks, as only one of the players mentioned have made much of an impact for the Bucs in Evans. Entering a crucial 2019 season, Licht must nail the picks within the first three rounds of this draft, at the bare minimum.
Expected to go heavy on the defensive side of the football, three players on this list appear in positions of need in Tampa Bay, such as cornerback, defensive line, and safety. Here are five players that the Buccaneers could target with their second round pick, the 39th overall pick in the draft.
As many of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for redemption this year, no one needs a bounce back season more than running back Ronald Jones II.
The 2018 season fell short for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on just about all fronts. Starters never seemed to find their stride after the beginning of the season, the play calling was poor, and the draft picks never seemed to come into their own. None of the rookies had a more disappointing season than running back Ronald Jones. The starting spot from the beginning of the year was Jones’ to win, yet at the end of his disappointing rookie campaign he was behind both Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers on the depth chart.
Jones had a very good career at USC totaling 591 rushing attempts for 3,619 yards over a three-year period. His six yards per carry as a college player was a stark contrast from the less than two yards per carry that RoJo had in his rookie season in the NFL. With only one touchdown and poor hands, Ronald Jones never seemed to find his stride as a professional player.
One of the tougher pills to swallow on Jones’ game was his season compared to the seasons of the other running backs taken in the second round. Browns running back Nick Chubb and Lions running back Kerryon Johnson were also taken in the second round, but both outperformed Jones by a healthy margin and ended up as starters on their respective teams. Johnson was able to prove his worth as a pass-catcher while Chubb made every rep count when he was utilized as a backup for the first part of the season.
Jones has a plethora of things that he has to work on to become the number one guy in Tampa. For starters, he has to become more efficient with the touches he is given. Averaging less than two yards per carry average will never fly in the NFL, and starter Peyton Barber averages less than four yards per carry, which should at least be the baseline.
The other important thing that Jones has to improve on is his pass-catching ability. Having a running back that can catch out in the flats opens up an offense greatly, especially for a team that has dealt with offensive line problems. At the very least being able to catch would give Jones more opportunities on 3rd down situations, which help in a competition for a starting spot.
TAMPA — Former Bucs great Warren Sapp regularly breaks down film on his Instagram feed, and this week’s dissection of the Bucs’ 42-28 loss to the Panthers apparently didn’t sit well with Tampa Bay linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander.
Sapp broke down Christian McCaffrey’s 35-yard run with 9:01 left in the second quarter, in which McCaffrey turns the corner down the right sideline against an eight-man front for a big gain.
“Holy Toledo, c’mon, this is not a hard play,” Sapp says as the play runs, stopping the play as David bears in on pulling Carolina center Mark Kalil in front of McCaffrey. David was pushed inside, allowing McCaffrey, who gets free outside after a subtle cutback, to turn the corner for a huge gain down the sideline.
Carolina scored a touchdown three plays later to take a 28-7 lead.
Sapp makes the point that David should have filled the outside gap, which would have pushed McCaffrey inside, where safety Jordan Whitehead could have filled and made the tackle.
That’s not the way David saw it, commenting on the post from his Instagram account, “Dead wrong.”
Alexander chimed in as well with a comment that included, “Bro, they don’t know what they be talking about (laughing emoji). He just like those (expletive).”
Sapp then replied to David: “Who you typing at?”, and to Alexander, “Who?, to which Alexander said, “You.”
Sapp responds to Alexander: “So tell US what you was suppose to do if not turn it back to the free hitter sitting in the hole.”
And he responds to David: “We waiting? Damn sure (went) under the block and RB still going must be the plan.”
Wednesday, Sapp told the Tampa Bay Times that he’s not surprised by the reaction he received from the players.
“These kids are playing their own game and have their own network of admirers,” he said.
“But you tell me what you’re doing since you done spilled it to the next guy, and he spilled it to the next guy, and not only does (McCaffrey) get the sideline, why is the safety delayed filling it? Is he not sure you’re going to do your job?
“You tell me something. I got my championship and my gold jacket. All that is buried, dead and gone. Trust me, I can pick up some way worse plays than that. I’m cutting you some slack.”
One could easily say Bucs defenders should be less defensive on social media and have more focus making plays on the field. But obviously, no one wins a social media argument in an Instagram post comment section.
In fact, nothing good happens from it. It only ends poorly as trolls join in. But it definitely drew attention to the post, which had more than 28,000 views as of Wednesday morning.
Maybe McCaffrey just made a great move to give him the corner. Maybe he’s just better. It was pretty clear the Panthers are better than the Bucs on Sunday.
Asked about Sapp’s criticism on Wednesday, Bucs defensive coordinator Mark Duffner said everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
“I respect people’s opinions,” Duffner said. “But again, we continue to work hard to put people in the right position and players work hard to be in the right position and that’s our task and that’s our job and that’s our challenge and we’re going to continue to work hard for it.”
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy might have put it best, explaining Monday his recent silence by saying that there’s no sense in saying a lot when the team isn’t playing well.
“Defense hasn’t been playing good,” McCoy said. “There’s not really a lot of talking that needs to be done. So that’s why I haven’t been doing interviews, because it’s just like nine years in, the defense is playing bad, how much talking do I really need to do? ‘Oh we need to fix this. Oh we need to fix that.’ It’s just you either get it done or just don’t say nothing. So that’s kind of where I’ve been.”
McCoy said he’s been on the receiving end of criticism from Sapp as well.
“We hear it from all ends,” McCoy said. “Ninety-nine gave me an earful yesterday. That’s what he does. That’s my brother, though. That’s my older brother. When he gets on me, that’s what he does.”
Uglier than the Instagram comment exchange was the play itself. McCaffrey turns the corner with four Bucs defenders left in the dust on on the ground and runs down the sideline untouched until he was taken down by defensive end — yes, defensive end — Carl Nassib at the seven. Even if David was to push McCaffrey into a free tackler, tackling was not the Bucs’ strong suit on Sunday.
The Bucs have allowed 34.4 points a game this season, which is the most in the NFL. They’ve also yielded 414.3 yards a game, which ranked 28th of the league’s 32 teams.
Ronde Barber has been announced to be added to the prestigious Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor. This is an achievement that is reserved for the best of the best in the Buccaneers’ organization throughout the team’s history. The players that earn the right to have their names and numbers lifted up in Raymond James are ones that had a mixture of success and loyalty in their careers, and Ronde Barber clearly possessed both.
Ronde Barber will be the 13th member of the Ring of Honor and he will be the ninth player to be added. He will join the likes of Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks, Lee Roy Selmon, and Warren Sapp. He is also joining other Buccaneers from the 2002 Super Bowl team such as John Lynch, Mike Alstott, and head coach Jon Gruden. Despite his impressive competition to join this inner circle, Ronde was able to make a successful argument for himself both on and off the field.
Barber had a career that was filled with impressive statistics and awards. Barber currently holds the record for most interceptions all time for the Buccaneers with an impressive 47. On the way to achieving this title Barber had perhaps a more impressive 10 interceptions in the 2001 season, leading the league. Barber was all over the field despite being a cornerback and accounted for 28 sacks over his career, another Buccaneer record at that position.
As far as NFL records go, Barber holds the record for most consecutive starts as a defensive back and as a cornerback. This record is impressive for a number of reasons, but mostly due to the fact that it stretched over the course of 14 seasons, a feat that would be difficult to accomplish in any era of the NFL.
As a tie in to his records, Barber was rewarded off the field for his stellar play. Ronde was First team All-Pro three times and was selected to five Pro Bowls. In addition to these individual awards, Barber was a part of the 2002 Super Bowl team under Jon Gruden.
A common trope in the Ring of Honor is selecting players that were career members of the Bucs such as Alstott or Brooks, or players that were on the Buccaneers for a smaller percentage of their career, but were Hall of Fame caliber players such as Warren Sapp. Ronde Barber falls under a category involving both of these groups. Barber had an unbelievable career as a Buccaneer and is currently waiting on his Hall of Fame induction.
John Lynch is a nine-time Pro Bowler, a Ring of Honor member for two different NFL franchises, a Super Bowl champion and perhaps the most feared hitter of his generation. He is also a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the sixth year in a row, and that alone suggests a very serious candidate to receive a bronze bust in Canton in 2019.
Hall of Fame voters have been closely examining Lynch’s candidacy every January since he first became a finalist in 2014, while working with the limiting factor of only being able to select five inductees for each class. Those six years as a finalist put Lynch in the company of almost exclusively Hall of Famers: Of the 22 other people who have been Hall of Fame finalists for six consecutive years, 21 have gained entry into Canton.
There have been a total of 31 Hall candidates before Lynch who were finalists at least six times overall, not necessarily consecutively, and 27 of them now have spots in Canton. Two very recent examples are wide receiver Tim Brown and defensive end Charles Haley, both of whom were voted into the Class of 2015 in their sixth year as finalists. To put it another way, Lynch was on a list of 17 candidates when he first became a Hall of Fame finalist in 2014; the other 16 have all since been inducted.
Lynch’s repeated status as a Hall finalist mirrors his nearly-annual visits to the Pro Bowl over a decade of dominance (1997-2007), and that also represents one of his best arguments for induction. He made his first five trips to Hawaii with the Buccaneers in the six-year span from 1997-2002, then moved on to the Broncos in 2004 and was again chosen for the all-star game in each of the next four years. Lynch’s continued impact after changing teams a dozen years into his career is an indication of his talent and adaptability, as he was asked to play a new role in a very different scheme in Denver. Seven of his 13 career sacks came in his four years with the Broncos as he was more frequently deployed near the line of scrimmage and as a pass-rusher. He did so at a Pro Bowl level.
Throughout his career, Lynch helped his teams rank among the very best defenses in the NFL. He was a starter and a leader on a Buccaneer defense that ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in each of his last seven years with the team. In three of his four years in Denver, the Broncos were a top-10 scoring defense. Lynch’s transition from an all-star in Tampa to an all-star in Denver are an indication that his peers viewed him as one of the best of his generation at the safety position, and that NFL fans believed his hard-hitting style and clutch plays were critical to his teams’ success.
“John was as good as any safety I ever played against,” said Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, who shared the NFC Central with Lynch for four years. “He reminded me a lot of guys like Ronnie Lott and Steve Atwater. He was a terrific player, a great defender, a fierce defender. He could knock the snot out of you.
“John Lynch didn’t just play the position, he occupied a spot in your mind and you had to be aware at all times where he was on the field.”
Lynch’s nine Pro Bowls put him in elite company, the majority of which is already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Since the annual Pro Bowl began in 1950, there have been 80 players (so far) who have been selected to that game at least nine times. Lynch is one of only six players on that list who were Hall of Fame-eligible prior to this year but not yet enshrined, and one of only three whose careers began in the Super Bowl era. The other eligible players meeting that criteria are offensive linemen Ruben Brown and Alan Faneca.
(Three players meeting that criteria are eligible for the first time this year and are also finalists: Champ Bailey, Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed. The other three are comprised of linebacker Maxie Baughan, who played from 1960-74, and a pair men who played the majority of their respective careers in the AFL in the 1960s – guard Walt Sweeney and tackle Jim Tyrer. Sweeney and Tyrer mostly played in AFL All-Star games, which were separate from the NFL Pro Bowl, but the NFL now includes those games in its Pro Bowl counts.)
Of those 80 players on the list of nine or more Pro Bowl selections, 61 are already in the Hall of Fame and another 10 are either still active or retired but not yet eligible. Many of those 10 appear to be Hall shoo-ins, from Tony Gonzalez to Drew Brees to Larry Fitzgerald, not to mention Peyton Manning, who thinks Lynch is deserving of the same honor.
“John was a safety that you always knew where he was,” said Manning. “I think there are only certain guys like that, where you know where No. 47 is on every play. I can assure you all receivers and tight ends always knew where he was. He was such a physical football player, what I would call an impactful tackler. Any receiver going near or across the middle with No. 47 in the area knew what he was getting into. He was always there. You could see it very often on film, after an early hit how he would affect a receiver, his confidence going across the middle or anywhere near there the rest of the game.”
In addition, Lynch was a three-time Associated Press All-Pro, twice as a first-team selection. He was also a first-team choice to the Pro Football Writers Association All-Pro team in an additional season in which he wasn’t on the AP list. All of those honors indicate that the media professionals covering the NFL agreed that Lynch was one of the league’s best safeties for a good portion of his career.
And, of course, Lynch’s resume includes another milestone important to Hall of Fame voters: He won a Super Bowl as part of the Buccaneers’ 2002 championship team. Not including first-year eligibles, Lynch and Faneca, who won a championship with Pittsburgh in 2005, are the only eligible players with nine NFL Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl ring who have not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
During eleven seasons with the Buccaneers and four with the Broncos, Lynch racked up 1,054 tackles, 26 interceptions, 13 sacks and 15 forced fumbles. Since the sack became an official statistic in 1982, only nine NFL players at any position, including Lynch, have accumulated at least 1,000 tackles, at least 25 interceptions, at least 10 sacks and at least 15 forced fumbles. Four of those nine already have bronze busts. Four of the other five are eligible for the Hall of Fame but have not yet been elected, and Lynch leads that group with nine Pro Bowl selections. In fact, the other three – Rodney Harrison, Donnie Edwards and Ronde Barber – combine for one fewer Pro Bowl choice than Lynch.
Is it any wonder that Lynch has the rare honor of being inducted into the Rings of Honor of those two different NFL franchise? Both the Buccaneers and Broncos gave him that honor in 2016.
“John Lynch is a Hall of Famer on and off the field,” said Jon Gruden, the Buccaneers’ head coach during the team’s 2002 Super Bowl run. “His preparation, consistency and hard-hitting style will fit perfectly with the all-time greats. If you can find a more impactful teammate, leader and performer than John Lynch then, great, put him in too.”
Despite possessing a 95-mph fastball that made him a second-round pick of the MLB’s Florida Marlins, Lynch chose football after being taken in the third round by the Buccaneers in 1993. And yet he still became a closer, or rather “The Closer,” a nickname bestowed upon him by former Tampa Bay Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin. Kiffin came up with the name after seeing his cerebral safety come up with a series of critical late-game plays. Those included an interception that sparked a comeback in the 1999 NFC Divisional Playoff Game against Washington and the pick that sealed Tampa Bay’s wild 38-35 win over St. Louis in a 2000 Monday Night Football appearance.
Lynch’s penchant for late-game heroics is not just anecdotal; it’s supported by his career statistics. Of his 26 interceptions, 14 were secured in the fourth quarter. Eleven of those 14 fourth-quarter picks came when his team was either up or down by seven points or less. Getting his takeaways at such important moments is likely the reason that 21 of his 26 picks helped his team win games.