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Bruce Arians’ offseason priority is keeping top defensive free agents, not Buccaneers’ QB

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TAMPA, Fla. — While the status of former first-overall draft pick Jameis Winston remains one of the Buccaneers‘ biggest storylines this offseason, coach Bruce Arians said Thursday that his priority is the defense, particularly re-signing outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks this year.

“Oh yeah. To me, it’s the whole defense,” Arians said after speaking at the NFL Coaches Academy. “You can’t get em all but we’ve gotta get … this team right now, the last eight games, our defensive statistics were … those young guys grew. We can’t let that go. I don’t care who’s my quarterback. We’ve gotta have a defense.”

Winston is set to become an unrestricted free agent after five years with the club. The team has been free to re-sign him at any point but has not done so.

In addition to Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, Ndamukong Suh, Beau Allen and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are all set to become free agents.

Arians declined to comment on Winston opting to undergo LASIK eye surgery recently, despite discussing Winston’s nearsightedness at the end of the season.

“I don’t talk about guys’ personal stuff,” Arians said.

A source close to the situation told ESPN the decision was Winston’s and not done at the team’s insistence.

When asked if he felt closer to having more clarity on his quarterback situation, Arians said, “No, because you don’t know who’s available. You’re just sitting and waiting to see is there someone available? And is he a better option?

“That’s the problem. You get about three days to decide — the legal tampering [period]. Is somebody else gonna get let go? What’s the trade values? It’s really monotonous right now because you don’t really have any answers.”

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Young Buccaneers fan Kacey Reynolds, whose wish was granted, dies

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TAMPA, Fla. — Kacey Reynolds, the 19-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan from Maysville, Georgia, whose wish was granted last year when he got to announce the Bucs’ 2019 first-round draft pick, has died after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, the team announced Sunday.

“We’re saddened by the passing of Buccaneers fan Kacey Reynolds. Our hearts go out to his family,” the Bucs tweeted, adding that he’ll “forever be part of the Buccaneers family.”

In addition to having Reynolds announce the pick, coach Bruce Arians, a two-time cancer survivor, called Reynolds and invited him and his parents Kenneth and Kelly Reynolds to fly back to Tampa with fifth-overall draft selection Devin White.

Reynolds took part in White’s introductory press conference, played pool with Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans and got to meet Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy.

Evans was actually the one who delivered the message to Reynolds via video at his school that he’d be making the draft pick.

“This one hurts man,” Evans tweeted. “You loved the squad regardless of the outcome. It was great getting to know you. RIP my friend.”



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After Ramsey tweets trade ideas, Lions CB Darius Slay says, “If it happens, it happens” – Detroit Lions Blog

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Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay said he doesn’t feel any different about possibly being traded — sticking with his stance he took back in October, when the Pro Bowler’s name was first floated for a possible trade.

On Sunday, he told ESPN “whatever happens, happens. I’m here to play ball,” when asked about the latest rumors about his future.

The 29-year-old said he figures there have been some discussions about his future and whether it would be in Detroit, but there haven’t been any substantive talks with him. Mostly, he sees those conversations on the internet and that things seem open for anything.

“I mean, they open for it so [the Lions] probably are having some talks,” Slay said. “Probably they just have to get the right, I’m guessing, whatever the right cost and then it can happen. That’s the only thing I can get from it, really. If they can get the right price for it, they’ll probably, most likely they do it.”

On Saturday night, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey suggested, in a tweet, that Slay should join him in L.A. Slay responded:

On Sunday, Slay would only say “if it happens, it happens.”

Slay has been the topic of trade conversations with the Lions since October, after Detroit dealt starting safety Quandre Diggs to Seattle at the deadline. He was outspoken about the trade then and said “nobody’s safe” when it comes to potentially being moved.

His name resurfaced as a possible trade target again last week when ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Lions were speaking with multiple teams about Slay but wanted to make sure they would get appropriate value in return for Slay, who is entering the final year of his deal in 2020.

Slay declined to say what he was looking for in a new contract, but his agent knows his worth and what he believes his worth is. He had previously tweeted that $15-to-$16 million per year might be too low.

Slay also said that he and his wife, Jennifer, have talked with their children about the possibility he won’t be playing for the Lions this year.

The three-time Pro Bowler also reiterated that he would like to play his entire career in Detroit, but understands the business side of the NFL as well.

“It’s a business so it should be looked at as a business aspect of it. If it was up to me, I would love to be here my whole career,” Slay said. “But one thing about a lot of stuff that comes, first is my family so I’ll do what’s best for my family, for them first and put my family in great position to never have to want for nothing.

“So that’s my goal, and if that’s being here, I’m here. If it ain’t, then I ain’t.”



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NFL player leadership remains divided over 17-game season

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NFL player leadership is still majorly divided over the thought of a 17-game season.

Player reps fell into three categories when discussing the proposed new Collective Bargaining Agreement, sources told ESPN — those who never want 17 games, those who will accept it with tweaks to the deal, and those who accept it as is.

Those reps held a conference call Friday and were set to vote on the deal, but getting the two-thirds majority was far from a slam dunk, a source said. NFLPA decided to postpone voting, giving all parties involved a few days to sleep on the proposal and meet at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

“Anything is possible at this point,” a source said.

The players are set to meet with NFL officials on Tuesday and could vote as early as Wednesday but hope to go back to owners and continue negotiations, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. The owners have no intentions to renegotiate the offer, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, who also reports the NFLPA and NFL Management Council have pushed back the start of the franchise tag designation period from Tuesday, Feb. 25 to Thursday, Feb. 27. Teams will now have until March 12 to decide whether to tag a player. NFL teams currently have the option to tag two players (using either the franchise or transition tag), but a new CBA would limit teams to one available tag.

Among the tweaks some players would like to see, according to sources: An increased revenue share, improved pension and further improvements to working conditions.

The NFLPA executive committee voted 6-5 against recommending the proposal, which offers a guaranteed revenue share of 48 percent in 2021, with a potential increase to 48.5 percent upon the start of a 17-game season, which is yet to be determined.

The proposed CBA also offers at least $90,000 increases on minimum salaries, increased pay for offseason activities, expanded pension eligibility, a limit of 16 days in pads at training camp and mandated improvements to visiting team locker rooms.

The current CBA expires March 2021.

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