Bucs TE O.J. Howard remains on track in his recovery from October's torn Achilles. “Yeah, he’s really close now,” HC Bruce Arians said. “He looks fantastic working out every day.” Howard is tentatively expected to be able to get some work in during June minicamp and sure seems to be trending toward being ready for Week 1. Anything QB Tom Brady and the Bucs get from him this year will be a bonus. Note that Howard out-targeted Rob Gronkowski 19 to 14 over the first 4 games of last season.
Bucs QB Tom Brady admitted that his left knee was an issue throughout last season. "It just took a lot," he said "Every week I was kind of tending to my knee, and I thought I would love to see a season where I can focus on some other strength stuff that I want to do, some other technique stuff where I’m not just focused on protecting my knee all the time." Despite that, Brady threw for 4,633 yards and 40 TDs in his Bucs debut, finishing 7th among QBs in fantasy points. He underwent what he called "pretty serious" knee surgery after the Super Bowl and will resume throwing next week. The knee shouldn't be an issue by the time training camp kicks off, but we'll keep an eye on the soon-to-be 44-year-old.
In a Saturday interview on NFL Network, Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians called rookie WR Jaelon Darden "kind of a combo" of Emmanuel Sanders and John Brown, each of whom he coached early in their careers (Sanders with the Steelers; Brown with the Cardinals). Brown might be the most hopeful comp for Darden's upside. Brown stood just 5'10, 179 as a 2014 prospect but also ran a 4.34-second 40. Darden still checks in even lighter (174) and shorter. The height of 5'7 and five-eighths at his pro day places the North Texas alum in the 1st percentile, according to Mockdraftable. Darden is fast, but also falls short of Brown in that category (4.46 pro day 40). We'll see how he fares in Tampa but aren't betting heavily on Darden's fantasy future.
The Buccaneers have taken North Texas WR Jaelon Darden in Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Darden is undersized at 5’8 and 174 pounds but clocked a 4.46-second 40 time at his Pro Day, along with a 91st percentile 3-cone and 79th percentile short shuttle. Those traits show up on tape. Darden toyed with Conference USA defenders last year on his way to an 1,190-yard, 19-TD 2020 campaign. He faces a huge step up in competition moving to the NFL, of course. So we’ll see if that athleticism translates. He lands, of course, in a crowded receiver corps with at least Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Tyler Johnson currently ahead of him.
The Bucs used the final pick of the 2nd round on Florida QB Kyle Trask. A 22-game starter, Trask truly emerged this past season. Across 12 appearances, he recorded 4,283-43-8 on a 68.9% completion rate. Throwing to guys like Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney helped, but Trask still brings NFL-quality size (6’5, 236), pocket mobility and intangibles. It’s worth noting that Trask barely played in high school, as he sat behind current University of Miami QB D'Eriq King. So perhaps we’ve yet to see Trask’s best ball. He’ll spend some more time on the bench in Tampa behind Tom Brady. Trask is obviously off the redraft radar and is only worth considering late in 2-QB or superflex dynasty rookie drafts.
The Buccaneers finished Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft by selecting edge defender Joe Tryon. The former Washington Husky opted out of 2020. The season before, he tallied 12.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in 13 games. Tryon figures to open his career behind Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett, so dynasty owners will need to be patient with him.
The Bucs and WR Antonio Brown have agreed to a 1-year contract with $3.1 million guaranteed and upside to $6.25 million, according to NFL Network. This deal took a bit longer than expected to get done, but Brown was always expected back in Tampa. He posted a 45-483-4 line in 8 games with the Bucs last season, ranking 21st among WRs in PPR points over that span. Volume is still a bit of a concern here, though, with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski also back for 2021.
The Bucs signed RB Gio Bernard, 5 days after he was dumped by the Bengals. The 29-year-old has averaged less than 4 yards per carry in 3 straight seasons. But he's remained useful in the passing game, catching 112 balls and averaging 7.2 yards per. Bernard will be no better than 3rd in line for carries in the Bucs backfield behind Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones but could siphon receptions from both guys.
The Bengals released RB Gio Bernard, saving $4.2 million against the 2021 salary cap. Bernard has been a thorn in RB Joe Mixon's side, averaging 3.5 targets and 2.6 catches per game over the past 4 season. Cincinnati now has only Samaje Perine and Trayveon Williams behind Mixon on the depth chart. We'll see if they make any additions, but Mixon should be in for more work in the passing game this season. The 29-year-old Bernard, meanwhile, is unlikely to be a 2021 fantasy factor.
Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians earned RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn some headlines Wednesday by saying that he expects a "breakout" from the 2nd-year back. But don't get too excited. Asked to assess his backfield headed toward the 2021 season, Arians told Pewter Report: “Those guys are all here and know what the system is and the best players are going to play. Obviously we have two really, really good ones at that position and I really like Ke’Shawn Vaughn. I think that with an offseason he’s going to have a breakout year also. All of those roles will be defined by the time that we get to the last week of the preseason.” Basically any level of relevance for Vaughn could be considered a breakout after he amassed just 26-109 rushing and a 5-34-1 receiving line. If the Bucs were truly excited about him, then fully guaranteeing Leonard Fournette's $3.25 million contract would seem unnecessary. Arians also didn't rule out drafting another RB. We'll see what Vaughn can do this summer, but we're not going out of our way to draft him for best-ball rosters right now.
Bucs TE O.J. Howard has been setback-free so far in his recovery from October's torn Achilles, HC Bruce Arians said Tuesday. Arians added that Howard is "real close" to getting back to pre-injury form, although that seems optimistic for an injury that often takes a year-plus to return from. It does sound like he has a good chance to be ready for the start of the 2021 campaign. It's worth remembering that Howard out-targeted TE Rob Gronkowski 19 to 14 over the first 4 games of last season.
RB Leonard Fournette has re-signed a 1-year deal with the Bucs. He gets $3.25 million with a chance to make up to $4 million via incentives, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Fournette had a rocky regular season in Tampa last year but was awesome in 4 postseason contests, carrying 64 times for 300 yards (4.7 YPC) and 3 TDs and hauling in 18 of 21 targets for 148 yards (8.2 YPC) and another score. He figures to operate in a committee alongside RB Ronald Jones in 2021, but Fournette's pass-catching ability makes him the more attractive fantasy target. Check out our updated projections for the Bucs backfield.
The Bucs inked K Ryan Succop to a new 3-year, $12 million deal. Succop drilled 28 of 31 FG attempts last season, although he missed 5 XPs. He still finished as a top 8 fantasy K. And with the Bucs bringing the band back together for 2021, Succop will be a strong option in drafts.
The Bucs and TE Rob Gronkowski have agreed to a new 1-year, $10 million deal. Gronk was always expected to return to Tampa to make a run at another Super Bowl and has been projected that way in our rankings. He played in all 16 regular-season games last year for the 1st time since 2011, compiling a 45-623-7 line on 77 targets. That landed him 8th among TEs in PPR points. Gronk benefitted from injuries to both WR Chris Godwin and TE O.J. Howard, who will be back for 2021, so we have him projected for fewer targets and fantasy points.
The Buccaneers have reached a 4-year deal to keep OLB Shaq Barrett from reaching free agency. Agent Drew Rosenhaus says it carries a top value of $72 million, with $36 million of that guaranteed. Barrett has emerged as 1 of the league's top pass rushers over his 2 seasons in Tampa Bay. He fell from a league-high 19.5 sacks in 2019 to just 8 last season, but Barrett's 76 total pressures ranked 2nd only to Aaron Donald.
The Bucs and QB Tom Brady agreed to a 1-year contract extension. He's now signed through the 2022 season -- but the real reason for this move is the $19 million it saves Tampa against the cap this year. Brady remained plenty effective in 2020, chucking for 4,633 yards and 40 TDs and finishing 7th among QBs in fantasy points. It's certainly possible that he plays at least 2 more seasons with the Bucs.
The Buccaneers have agreed to a 2-year, $25 million extension with LB Lavonte David, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The deal keeps David from reaching unrestricted free agency and continues his run with the only team he has ever played for. Expect to find David remaining among the top 15 LBs when our 2021 IDP rankings arrive.
Update: NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports that it's actually a 5-year deal with 3 voidable seasons. So we'll see just how many of them David plays.
The Buccaneers are placing the franchise tag on WR Chris Godwin, according to multiple reports. Barring a trade, that locks in a 2021 return for Godwin. We'll see whether the 2 sides work out a longer-term deal before the deadline. Godwin slipped last season from his monster 2019 production, but he still ranked 15th among wideouts in PPR points per game. Expect him to battle Mike Evans once again for the top fantasy score among Bucs receivers. His return suppresses the upside of 2nd-year WR Tyler Johnson, but it keeps QB Tom Brady working with 1 of the league's best WR tandems. We'll see what Tampa elects to do with WR Antonio Brown, who is headed for free agency this month.
Bucs QB Tom Brady will undergo what HC Bruce Arians described as "clean-up" surgery on his left knee. That's the knee in which Brady tore his ACL back in 2008. He hasn't missed a game due to injury since. We'll keep an eye on Brady's status this offseason, but this shouldn't impact his 2021 campaign.
Bucs TE Cameron Brate (back) is active for the Super Bowl. He was added to the injury report on Thursday and then didn’t practice on Friday. Brate has caught 11 of 16 targets in Tampa’s 3 playoffs wins, but there’s a chance that he’s limited tonight.
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