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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs plan to lock up Evans but new deal may come after 2017

The Bucs plan to lock up receiver Mike Evans for the long-term and he is eligible for a new contract after completing his third NFL season with a combined 3,578 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns.

But that doesn’t mean a new deal is likely before 2017. In May, the Bucs will pick up Evans’ fifth-year option.

It’s rare for players, even first round picks such as Evans, to be given long-term deals after only three seasons in the league.

Evans signed a four-year, $14.631-million contract as a rookie out of Texas A&M in 2014, including an $8.961-million signing bonus. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $690,000 this season and a roster bonus of $1.725-milion.

That’s pretty good compensation and word is Evans is not pressing the Bucs to tear up his current deal.

“We have plenty of time here,’’ general manager Jason Licht said. “He’s a very good player and he knows it’s no secret, we want to keep him for a very long time.’’

Anything is possible, but it seems more likely now that Evans big payday will come after his fourth season. The fifth-year option will prevent him from testing free agency and the Bucs will still have the option of applying a franchise tag after that. …

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NFL owners approve Raiders move to Las Vegas

Labor union member Geraldine Lacy celebrates Monday in Las Vegas. NFL team owners approved the move of the Raiders to Las Vegas in a vote at an NFL football annual meeting in Phoenix.

AP photo

Labor union member Geraldine Lacy celebrates Monday in Las Vegas. NFL team owners approved the move of the Raiders to Las Vegas in a vote at an NFL football annual meeting in Phoenix.

The NFL always has been wary of the temptations facing any team in Las Vegas, but soon they may have to put a patch over both eyes of the pirate on the Raiders' helmet.

Unable to find a suitable stadium deal after a second stint in Oakland for 22 years, the Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas after receiving the approval from all but one NFL owner at the league’s annual meeting in Phoenix Monday.

The Raiders will remain in Oakland for 2017 and possibly longer. Raiders’ owner Mark Davis said the team has a pair of one-year options at the Oakland Coliseum.

The Miami Dolphins were the only team to not approve of the move, according to ESPN.

In the past, the league's owners have steered clear of Las Vegas as a possibility for franchise relocation because of the obvious dangers associated with legalized gambling. But as the market has grown and attracted other industry, the entertainment capital of the world became more appealing.

It will take at least two years for the completion of a new 65,000-seat, $1.9-million domed stadium to be shared with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas that is supposed to open for the 2020 season. …

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Viva Las Vegas for Raiders, but Bucs happy at home in Tampa

It's been more than 20 years since Malcolm Glazer went to an NFL owners meeting desperate for a stadium deal to stay in Tampa. The ensuing drama in 1996 cleared the way for the construction of Raymond James Stadium. Things may not turn out as well for Oakland this week with NFL owners poised to vote on the Raiders' proposed move to Las Vegas.

Times archive

It's been more than 20 years since Malcolm Glazer went to an NFL owners meeting desperate for a stadium deal to stay in Tampa. The ensuing drama in 1996 cleared the way for the construction of Raymond James Stadium. Things may not turn out as well for Oakland this week with NFL owners poised to vote on the Raiders' proposed move to Las Vegas.

At the NFL annual meeting at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach in 1996, Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer was desperate for a stadium deal to keep his franchise from moving from Tampa Bay and time was running out. Roger Goodell, who held various positions in the league before becoming the league’s commissioner, was in charge of things like stadium financing and assisting in franchise relocation.

Glazer was known to tap his watch and turn the heat up on negotiations, which was the case at this meeting and again weeks later when he sat with city and county leaders facing a midnight deadline during a contentious battle for a stadium lease.

“You have 59 minutes left,’ Glazer said to Tampa mayor Dick Greco at 11:01 p.m. as they considered putting a half cent sales tax referendum on the ballot to help pay for Raymond James Stadium.

There’s no more sand in the hourglass today for the Oakland Raiders.  At the league’s annual meeting here at the Biltmore resort in Phoenix, owners voted in favor of the Raiders proposed move to Las Vegas. …

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49ers eyeing Bucs defensive end Jacquies Smith

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith (56) celebrates his touchdown as George Johnson forced a fumble from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Smith recovered to take it three yards for a touchdown during second half action at Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon in Tampa (10/11/15).

DIRK SHADD | Times

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith (56) celebrates his touchdown as George Johnson forced a fumble from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Smith recovered to take it three yards for a touchdown during second half action at Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon in Tampa (10/11/15).

Movement has slowed down in the third week of NFL free agency, but the Bucs are at risk of losing a player as the 49ers brought in restricted free agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, who missed nearly all of last season with a torn ACL, for a visit over the weekend.

No offer has been made by the 49ers yet, and the Bucs have the right to match any offer to keep Smith, but San Francisco has about $68-million in remaining salary-cap room, the most in the NFL, so they're in position to overpay and make a tough decision for the Bucs.

Smith, 27, had 13.5 sacks in two seasons with the Bucs in 2014-15 before tearing his ACL on his first snap of the 2016 season while running downfield in kick coverage. Smith is expected to be in position to return healthy for the 2017 season, and that injury perhaps played a role in the Bucs deciding to give him the lowest tender of $1.7-million. Had they offered a second-round tender of about $2.8-million, another team would have to send the Bucs a second-round pick to sign Smith away.

The Bucs still have ample cap room -- $30.2-million, the seventh-most in the NFL -- should the 49ers offer and Tampa Bay want to match. …

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Lavonte David: Bucs motivated as 'team on the cusp'

One lane after another, Bucs linebacker Lavonte David worked his way down 44 bowling lanes at Pin Chasers in Tampa on Sunday afternoon, stopping at each to take pictures and sign autographs with volunteers, donors and children at an event for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

David, a national spokesperson for BBBS, took time to attend the Bowl for Kids' Sake event for those who helped with the organization's spring fundraising campaign. With only a few weeks before the Bucs return to the practice fields, he also took a few minutes to talk about his work with BBBS, the Bucs' offseason and his optimism about the 2017 season for Tampa Bay.

Q: I know this event means a lot to you, and it's a chance for you to spend time not only with the local volunteers and the kids they work with, but also those whose donations make that interaction possible. …

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Three Bucs make NFL under-25 team, but not Kwon Alexander

Kwon Alexander, who led the league in solo tackles with 108 in his second NFL season, was left off the NFL's all-under 25 team.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Kwon Alexander, who led the league in solo tackles with 108 in his second NFL season, was left off the NFL's all-under 25 team.

The league's official site put out an under-25 All-NFL team, showcasing the best young talent from its 32 teams, and the Bucs made a strong showing, with QB Jameis Winston, WR Mike Evans and G Ali Marpet making the list.

No team in the NFL can boast as many players as the Bucs' three -- San Diego, Houston, Kansas City and the New York Giants have two each -- but another Tampa Bay player felt he deserved to make the cut: Kwon Alexander, who led the league in solo tackles with 108 in his second NFL season.

Houston's Benardrick McKinney and Atlanta's Deion Jones were the only traditional linebackers on the 26-person team, and when Bucs fans pointed out the potential snub to writer Elliot Harrison, Alexander chimed in himself on Twitter.

"Yea! Why no Kwon you tell me what I'm doing wrong sir!?" he wrote Wednesday.

On Thursday, Harrison responded: "You had a great year man! Super close calls on Under 25 team. Especially LB!" …

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Bucs may have benefitted from a new OT rule proposal

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) checks on Jude Adjei-Barimah as Oakland's Austin Howard (77) and others celebrate their overtime win over the Bucs in October.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) checks on Jude Adjei-Barimah as Oakland's Austin Howard (77) and others celebrate their overtime win over the Bucs in October.

You don’t see too many ties in the NFL anymore, except for the ones worn by the suits in the league office.

But the truth is, ties can come in many stripes. For instance, had the Bucs tied the Oakland Raiders instead of losing 30-24 in overtime last season, they would’ve made the playoffs at 9-6-1. Instead, they played nearly five complete quarters, then four days later, played a Thursday night game and lost to the Atlanta Falcons 43-28.

Sudden death has been replaced by an overtime system where both teams get an offensive possession unless the team that has the football first scores a touchdown.

Well, now the NFL may mess with the OT system again this week at the annual meetings in Phoenix beginning Sunday.

The league is proposing shortening the overtime period in the preseason and regular season from 15 to 10 minutes.

The stated purpose is for player safety, and one could also infer, competitive balance. If a team is involved in an overtime game on Sunday and has to play on Thursday night football four days later, well, you’ve got some tired hombres.

Just ask the Bucs.

If this rule was adopted last year, Tampa Bay may have broken what’s now a nine-year playoff drought. …

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McDougald finds 'motivation' in Bucs not re-signing him

Bradley McDougald settled for a one-year deal with the Seahawks reportedly worth $2-million.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Bradley McDougald settled for a one-year deal with the Seahawks reportedly worth $2-million.

NFL players wait years for the right to hit the open market of free agency, but former Bucs safety Bradley McDougald found less interest than he'd hoped for, settling for a one-year deal with the Seahawks reportedly worth $2-million.

That's less than he earned with the Bucs last season, and as Seattle announced his signing on Thursday, he told their official site that he'll be motivated by Tampa Bay's lack of interest in bringing him back after he started 31 games over the last two seasons.

"For sure, I have that chip on my shoulder," McDougald told the site. "And even this free agency process felt the same way. You play your heart out for a team, and they don't bring you back, so you have to find a new home. It definitely gives you that much more motivation to play even harder. It's just a little chip on your shoulder, a little extra motivation." …

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Is the fun coming back to the No Fun League?

Gerald McCoy celebrates after forcing the Falcons' Matt Ryan to fumble.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Gerald McCoy celebrates after forcing the Falcons' Matt Ryan to fumble.

In the season opener last year, the Falcons had the football near midfield trailing 24-13. On first down, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy sacked quarterback Matt Ryan for a six-yard loss.

Excited by making such a big play, McCoy swayed his hands above his head and was joined in the motion by linebacker Kwon Alexander. The whole demonstration took only a couple seconds. But McCoy was flagged and the Bucs penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct in what was considered a choreographed celebration.

McCoy was even fined $12, 154 for the penalty.

"Right when that happened, I said 'We're going to get flagged,'’ coach Dirk Koetter said. “Not preconceived at all, but by what they're calling, the rule. Look, I don't make the rules. Whether I agree with it or not doesn't matter. They called it. They're going to call it.‘’

Starting in 2017, they may not.

The fun may be back in the No Fun League.

The NFL plans to discuss player celebrations at the league’s annual meetings in Phoenix beginning Sunday. Executive vice president Troy Vincent has said the league is preparing a training video to show players examples of appropriate and inappropriate celebrations. …

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NFL draft podcast: Greg and Riley Auman on linebackers

Riley, left, and Greg Auman discuss the linebackers in the upcoming NFL draft.

Photo from video

Riley, left, and Greg Auman discuss the linebackers in the upcoming NFL draft.

Times beat reporter Greg Auman and his son, Riley, break down the linebackers in the NFL Draft in this episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast. They also talk about the Bucs adding kicker Nick Folk and how their offensive line might look.

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Bucs safety Bradley McDougald signs with Seahawks

Nearly two weeks into the NFL's free agency season, Bucs safety Bradley McDougald has found a home, signing a one-year deal with the Seahawks, reportedly for $2-million.

It's a surprisingly modest payday for McDougald, 26, who started 31 of 32 games for the Bucs over the past two years. He's actually making less than the $2.55-million he earned last season with the Bucs, which suggests their interest in bringing him back was minimal at best.

The Bucs moved in another direction, signing former Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox to a two-year deal reportedly worth $8.5-million, or more than double per year what McDougald got from Seattle. Chris Conte and Keith Tandy are also back at safety for Tampa Bay, which could also draft a safety next month.

McDougald is the fourth Bucs free agent to sign with another team, following QB Mike Glennon (Bears), DT Akeem Spence (Lions) and WR Russell Shepard (Panthers). The Bucs have also re-signed seven of their own free agents to new deals: P Bryan Anger, DE Will Gholston, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Conte, DT Sealver Siliga, DB Josh Robinson and C Joe Hawley. …

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Jameis Winston suffers loss of grandmother

Jameis Winston's grandmother, Myrtle, called him the "love of her life.''

GREG AUMAN | Times

Jameis Winston's grandmother, Myrtle, called him the "love of her life.''

She called him the ’love of her life.’ Jameis Winston’s grandmother, Myrtle, was his biggest fan. And the feeling was mutual.

Although she suffered from Type 2 diabetes and was in a wheelchair, she made the 4½ hour drive from Bessemer, Ala., to New Orleans two years ago to watch him get his first NFL win against the Saints.

She was the reason Winston stayed home from the NFL draft in 2015 even though he was the No. 1 overall pick by the Bucs. His grandmother couldn’t travel and he wanted to share the experience with her.

But earlier this week, Myrtle Winston died. She was 70.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at New Bethlehem Baptist Church in Bessemer, Ala.

Shortly after noon on Monday, news of Mrs. Winston’s death began circulating on social media. Wes Saxton, Jr., a Redskins tight end and former high school teammate of Jameis, texted “RIH Grandma Winston.’

The Facebook page of Jameis’ father, Antonor, also had condolence messages on the passing of Winston’s paternal grandmother.

Following the Bucs’ win over the Saints in Week 2 of his rookie season, Jameis said he was inspired by his grandmother. …

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NFL Draft Q&A: Pittsburgh tight end Scott Orndoff

Pittsburgh tight end Scott Orndoff runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 4, 2017.

Associated Press

Pittsburgh tight end Scott Orndoff runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 4, 2017.

Our NFL Draft Q&A series continues with Pittsburgh tight end Scott Orndoff, who broke out this past season with 35 catches for 579 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-5, 256-pound prospect had totaled only 23 catches in his first three years of college -- though eight were for touchdowns -- and took a few minutes to talk about his preparations for the draft:

Q: Where are you training to get ready for pro day (it's today, March 22)?

A: "Leading up to the combine, I spent two months in Tampa, working out at ASPI with Yo Murphy. Now, since the combine, I'm back in Pittsburgh, training at my school. (Training in Tampa) went really well. A big part of the combine is all the speed and agility drills, and I definitely know I got well prepared there. Yo Murpny and his staff are really good with the speed work. I got a lot healthier and my body composition improved. There were probably 25 of us training there."

Q: Was there one measurable in particular you wanted to improve on this spring? …

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Could Roberto Aguayo be back on the street in September?

Roberto Aguayo led the NFL with nine missed field goals and was only four-of-11 from 40 yards or longer.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Roberto Aguayo led the NFL with nine missed field goals and was only four-of-11 from 40 yards or longer.

There’s been some discussion about how serious the Bucs are about potentially replacing struggling place-kicker Roberto Aguayo after dealing third- and fourth-round picks to move up 15 spots and take the Florida State star in the second round last year.

Last weekend, the Bucs signed Jets free agent Nick Folk, an 81.3 percent career field goal kicker. …

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Ready to move on? Jets Nick Folk will compete with Roberto Aguayo for Bucs kicking job

The Bucs over-drafted Florida State place-kicker Roberto Aguayo last year, selecting him in the second round. He felt the pressure. One of the most accurate kickers in college history made only 71 percent of his field goal attempts (22-of-31), the worst in the league.

“Read the stats, he wasn’t very good last year,’’ Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. “He wants to improve and he’s going to work at it. And we still have confidence in him but you’re always trying to get better.’’

Keeping their promise to make Aguayo compete for his job in 2017, the Bucs are signing Jets free agent Nick Folk. The signing was first reported by FoxSports.com.

Folk, 32, connected on 27 of 31 field goal attempts (87.1 percent) last season for the Jets. Three of his four misses were the result of blocks. In 10 seasons with the Cowboys and Jets, Folk has made 81.3 percent of his field goal attempts.

Both Licht and Bucs coach Dirk Koetter have vowed to replace Aguayo in 2017 unless he is the best kicker in training camp and the preseason. Speaking not specifically about Aguayo, Licht is on record having said he isn’t afraid to cut his losses if a player doesn’t perform. …

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