The 28-year-old cornerback signed a four-year $25.5 million contract in 2014. With no guaranteed money left on the deal, the Bucs will save the entire $6.5 million salary-cap hit in 2017. Verner was scheduled to count as the fifth-highest hit to the Bucs’ cap.
The release makes fiscal and football sense after Verner lost out on a starting spot in the 2016 lineup to rising first-round rookie Vernon Hargreaves. After a dreadful 2015 campaign in which he was benched, Verner started three games last season and saw fewer than 25 snaps in 10 contests. He started just nine games the past two seasons.
I’ve documented every “Hard Knocks” season for NFL.com since 2012, when Joe Philbin was wowing America with charisma that would leave a young Elvis Presley green with envy. Barring a nuclear fallout scenario, I’ll be back at it again with episode recaps starting in August.
The Bucs are promising NFC upstarts with no shortage of intriguing personalities and storylines. One could even call them youngry … is that taken? Meanwhile, this feels like an important season for “Hard Knocks,” an all-time sports series that retreated into a formulaic cul-de-sac under the weight of the dreary Rams a year ago.
Carolina is wisely being cautious with Newton, who’s coming off surgery in late March to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. It doesn’t take a medical degree to prove a shoulder injury and subsequent operation is important to a quarterback.
The numbers don’t exactly show it — Newton managed to throw for 237 yards in a Week 17 loss, a week after going 18 for 43 in a loss to Atlanta — but the quarterback was less than his best self down the stretch last season, as Carolina limped to just two wins in its final six games. Injuries and cheap jerseys and inconsistent play, especially along the offensive line, doomed Carolina, and it made sense when it was revealed after the season that Newton had been playing through his own ailment.
Final scores might not matter in the preseason, but individual performances sure do. Careers can be made, opportunities can be seized and depth charts can be decided in the exhibition contests leading up to the first kickoff that counts. To help put these moments into context, Bucky Brooks will provide a grade for one player of interest from every NFL team after each of the first three full weeks of preseason action.
The fourth-round pick was expected to add some “pop” to the Redskins’ running game as a powerful, downhill runner with size and a rugged running style. Perine was a mild disappointment against Baltimore, rushing for just 15 yards on six carries, with most of those yards coming on an 11-yard rumble around the corner. With Perine looking hesitant and indecisive toting the rock and attacking rushers in pass protection, the Redskins might be more comfortable with Rob Kelley installed as the lead back. Grade: C
This is clearly someone suffering from football’s version of the yips; a deep, mental pit that some players find themselves in and can’t climb out of. Is having the worst moment of your life nationally televised going to help? Was there a way the Buccaneers could have done this behind closed doors?
I applaud the Bears for giving Aguayo a second chance, who claimed the kicker off waivers on Sunday. Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery or a different coach and Jeff Rodgers, the special teams coordinator in Chicago, was around for Matt Prater’s development into a Pro Bowler with the Broncos.
After losing his job to veteran Nick Folk, Aguayo now must fend off Connor Barth to keep a spot on Chicago’s roster, saying: “At the end of the day, they’ll decide.”
Few kickers elicit the kind of media attention Aguayo received during a radioactive rookie campaign that played out publicly in mostly ghastly fashion. Case in point: His dismissal from the Bucs can hardly be filed away as a past trifling when the nation is preparing for an inside look at Aguayo’s meltdown on HBO’s Hard Knocks.