Buccaneers agree to extension with DC Mike Smith


He just finished his first campaign as Bucs defensive coordinator following seven seasons as Falcons head coach. Now, he’ll team for his second year under after Koetter served two seasons as Smith’s offensive coordinator in Atlanta.

The Tampa defense showed signs of immense promise in 2016. After allowing 26.1 points per game (26th in the league) in 2015, that number dropped to 23.1, the 15th-best mark. During the team’s five-game winning streak in the middle of the season, the defense allowed a minuscule 64 points, which included facing the Saints, Chargers, Seahawks and Chiefs over that span.

After starting 37 of 48 games under the regimes of and wholesale jerseys and Lovie Smith, Banks fell out of favor once former Falcons coach Mike Smith took over Tampa Bay’s defense this year. He has been a healthy scratch the past two weeks after being limited to special teams duty early in the season.

Banks earned the 2012 Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, playing opposite Lions star cornerback Darius Slay at Mississippi State. Although he offers ideal size at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, the No. 43 overall pick in the 2013 draft is not a high-end athlete by NFL cornerback standards.

You probably know the background here, but a quick refresher: The Bucs traded up to pick Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft, an audacious move that only makes sense if Aguayo becomes a Pro Bowl-level kicker. He was pretty much the opposite of that as a rookie, prompting the team to swallow its pride and bring in another option ahead of Year 2.

Folk has enjoyed a very solid career, fresh off a seven-year run with the Jets where he became the most accurate kicker in franchise history. In a radio spot this week, Folk made it clear he (wait for it) didn’t come here to make friends.

LeBron James
LeBron James

Jameis Winston had a slow start, misfiring on his first six passes, but rebounded against Jacksonville’s second-team defense and found Mike Evans on a fade route for a 4-yard score. Winston finished 3-of-10 passing for 28 yards, with an interception.

Tampa Bay (1-1) and Jacksonville (0-2) held two joint practices during the week, so they had plenty of in-person preparation before a mostly meaningless exhibition.

In what seemed like the perfect union all along, Jackson has agreed to terms with the Buccaneers, the team announced Thursday. The deal is for three years and $33.5 million, including $20 million in guarantees, NFL Network Insider Ian reported. It was a big day for Jackson’s agent, Joel Segal of Lagardere Sports, as well as he did deals totalling $122 million — Jackson’s; Reshad Jones’ $55 million deal with Dolphins; and Tony Jefferson’s $34 million deal with the Ravens.

The 30-year-old field-stretching wide receiver appeared to have a handful of suitors but will end up settling in with the cannon-armed third-year quarterback Jameis Winston. Rapoport said Winston was lobbying hard to get Jackson in Florida.

Locking down Gholston was an offseason priority for an improving Bucs defense. Gholston keeps a solid Bucs defensive end group intact ahead of free agency and the draft. Gholston owns versatility to play several positions, giving Tampa flexibility along the line with ends Robert Ayers, Noah Spence and interior players Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald.

The Bucs’ defense played strong down the stretch and re-signing Gholston keeps that arrow pointing up. The move should not preclude Tampa from adding a rusher in a draft deep at the position.

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