Tampa Bay BuccaneersRecapping the previous week during the busting offseason, a tour through the NFC SouthBrianna Dix Buccaneers
Bucs Re-sign Jamel Dean to 4-Year Deal
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers solidified their secondary on Wednesday, re-signing cornerback Jamel Dean to a four-year deal. Among all cornerbacks in 2022, Dean allowed the fifth fewest yards (386) as the nearest defender with a minimum of 60 targets per Next Gen Stats. In addition, since entering the league in 2019, Dean has surrendered the fewest yards (5.7) per target among defensive backs with a minimum of 150 targets. In 15 game starts in 2022, Dean amassed seven pass breakups, two interceptions and only allowed a 46.6 completion percentage. The Auburn product has only allowed three touchdown passes in two seasons, in addition to four interceptions and 17 pass breakups during that span. Dean possesses the lateral quickness to generate leverage from press, he consistently crowds/challenges at the catch point and has fluid short-area change of direction. He has never allowed 500 yards in a single season, achieving consistency for Tampa Bay. Dean's 4.3 speed flashes and his physicality at the stem closes space, putting himself in prime position to disrupt the catch window. His inclusion elevates the Bucs' back end and Dean is now locked up for the foreseeable future.
Bucs Agree to Terms With Aaron Stinnie
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers agreed to terms with offensive lineman Aaron Stinnie on a new one-year contract. He was set to become an unrestricted free agent but returns to Tampa Bay. Stinnie has competed for a starting job on Tampa Bay's offensive line over the previous two summers and joins the unit once again to vie for one of the club's vacancies on the interior, as 2022 starting right guard Shaq Mason was traded to the Houston Texas on Wednesday. After Alex Cappa departed for the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency in 2022, the Bucs traded for Mason to be the replacement. The left guard position also became available when Pro Bowler Ali Marpet unexpectedly elected to retire. Stinnie primarily battled rookie second-rounder Luke Goedeke for that position in training camp last summer but then suffered a season-ending knee injury in August. The Bucs offensive line will undergo another shuffle in 2023. Tampa Bay parted ways with long-time starting left tackle Donovan Smith. The team could opt to sign a veteran or draft a potential replacement to fill a critical role along the line or could move All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs to the left side. Third-year pro Nick Leverett, who started 10 games at left guard after taking over for Goedeke midseason, has received a qualifying offer as an exclusive rights free agent and is expected to be back in 2023. Robert Hainsey, John Molchon and Brandon Walton are among the other depth options who will be competing for spots along the line.
Bucs Agree to Terms With Anthony Nelson
On Thursday, the Buccaneers agreed to terms with outside linebacker Anthony Nelson. Tampa Bay was able to retain its fifth-year edge rusher who reached new heights in 2022 after stepping into the starting lineup following Shaquil Barrett's season-ending Achilles tendon injury. During the 2022 season, Nelson established career highs in tackles (44), solo tackles (25), sacks (5.5) and forced fumbles (three). He is one of just five players with 10-or-more sacks in 500-or-fewer pass rush snaps over the last two seasons combined. Nelson was one of two players, along with cornerback Jamel Dean, whom Head Coach Todd Bowles designated as the club's "most improved" last season. He consistently wreaked havoc at the line of scrimmage andpossesses superb length, quickness and a relentless motor. Nelson explodes out of his stance to attack upfield as a rusher and although he may be vastly underrated, his energizing play speaks for itself. Week-after-week, Nelson's timely plays fueled the defense and stalled opposing team's drives in 2022.
Bucs Agree to Terms With Baker Mayfield
On Thursday, Bucs' General Manager Jason Licht confirmed that the club has agreed to terms with free agent quarterback Baker Mayfield on a one-year contract, prompting a competition for the starting signal-caller duties with 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask. Both will vie to replace Tom Brady, who retired on February 1 after leading Tampa Bay to three straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl LV victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. Throughout his five-year career in the NFL, Mayfield has thrown for 16,288 yards, 102 touchdowns and 64 interceptions, compiling a career passer rating of 86.5 in 69 game starts (72 played). He has completed 61.4% of his passes (1,386 of 2,259) and has engineered seven game-winning drives and six fourth-quarter comeback victories. Additionally, Mayfield has rushed for 660 yards and six touchdowns.
"Baker is a tough competitor who plays with the kind of passion and confidence that you look for in a quarterback," said Jason Licht. "He's a young veteran with good upside who should thrive in our new offensive system with receivers like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage. He had an impressive 2020 season when he led the Browns to their playoff appearance and did some good things during his brief stint with the Rams at the end of last season. I know from speaking with him that he is excited to come in and compete for the starting job."
Bears Trade No. 1 Overall Pick to Panthers
The Chicago Bears traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for four draft picks and wide receiver DJ Moore. The Bears received Carolina's first-round selection at No. 9, a late second-round pick, a 2024 first-round selection and a 2025 second-round pick. Conversations regarding the No. 1 pick intensified after the Scouting Combine and the Panthers made the move, gaining multiple options at quarterback. The exchange drastically shifted mock drafts and sent shockwaves through the NFL.
Falcons Sign Former Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke to 2-Year Deal
The Falcons added to their quarterback room, signing former Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke to a two-year deal. Heinicke brings experience to the position group alongside second-year player Desmond Ridder. Over the previous two seasons in Washington, Heinicke completed 64.0 percent of his passes for 5,278 yards with 32 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. The Falcons have vocalized that Ridder is the starter, however, Heinicke adds insurance and could be in a competitive battle for reps if Ridder does not meet expectations.
Falcons Acquire Jonnu Smith in Trade With Patriots
The Falcons acquired veteran tight end Jonnu Smith in a trade with the Patriots. Atlanta sent a seventh-round pick to New England as part of the trade package. Over the previous two seasons for the Patriots, Smith totaled 55 catches for 539 receiving yards and one touchdown. In Atlanta, Smith will reunite with Falcons' Head Coach Arthur Smith, who served as his tight end coach from 2017-2018 with the Titans, prior to his promotion to offensive coordinator in 2019. Jonnu Smith was productive in Tennessee, accumulating 114 receptions, 1,300-plus receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns during a four-year span. The Falcons are hoping to revitalize his career in Atlanta with Arthur Smith's tutelage.
Saints Amend Contract of Jameis Winston
After agreeing to terms on a four-year contract with former Raiders' quarterback Derek Carr on March 6, the Saints finalized a deal with Jameis Winston, keeping him in New Orleans on an amended contract. Winston was set to make $12.8 million in base salary during the final year of a two-year extension he signed in 2022 but will sign a revised contract for one year and $4 million, with incentives increasing the overall value to $8 million. Winston has started 10 games during his three-year tenure in New Orleans, completing 61% of his passes for 2,103 yards and 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions.