Despite a couple of strange years, Baker Mayfield remains confident

NFL: MAR 20 Buccaneers Press Conference
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Two years ago, the football world was Baker Mayfield‘s oyster. Since then, his career has come down with a serious case of the crabs.

Through it all, the new Buccaneers quarterback has remained confident.

“To me, to be at the top of your game — whatever industry you’re in — you have to be wired internally to believe in yourself and sometimes trick yourself that nobody else believes in you,” Mayfield told reporters on Monday. “I enjoy looking at some of the greats in all sports and how they’ve prepared and that’s how you do it. You’ve got to believe in yourself. Unfortunately I was a late bloomer growing up, so I didn’t have a lot of recruiting coming out of high school, so that helped wire me a certain way to only have that self confidence. I’ve carried that on since and that’s the infectious part about me that I try to have my other teammates feel as well.”

He still feels that way even after an injury-riddled 2021 and a flat (for the most part) 2022.

“I’m still confident,” Mayfield said. “I wouldn’t say the last year really humbled me — I learned a lot from it. I still believed in myself. I think that’s the only way I was able to get through it and finish on somewhat of a high note, playing for Los Angeles. I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve gone through and that’s what’s gotten me here. I’m ready for the next chapter.”

The next chapter could entail not beating out Kyle Trask for the starting job. Will Mayfield be able to handle that?

“Just take a look at last year,” Mayfield said. “I don’t really have much to say other than that. Everybody wants to talk about years ago, how I used to be. If you haven’t realized that I’ve changed a lot then that’s all right.”

He’s definitely changed over the past two years, as he has handled adversity.

“I’m definitely capable of withstanding a lot more than I thought,” Mayfield said. “And then just knowing that no matter what role I’m in, I have a lot to offer. Last year when I wasn’t starting in Carolina, how can I make our team better? Because this is the greatest team sport on earth. How can I help out? How can I make sure everybody is on the same page? How can I make sure that I’m using my experience or being another voice for the quarterback or the coaches, where we might not be relaying it correctly? There’s so many things I can possibly do — even if I’m not playing — I’m excited to do that here.”

Still, Mayfield has arrived in Tampa with the goal of winning the job. It may be his last and perhaps best chance to get a once-promising career back on track.

Cowboys restructure Brandin Cooks’ contract

Washington Commanders v Houston Texans
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The Texans agreed to pay $6 million of Brandin Cooks‘ $18 million salary before the trade to the Cowboys.

The Cowboys since have restructured the contract.

They will turn $8 million of Cooks’ $12 million base salary into a signing bonus, Todd Archer of ESPN reports. His salary now is $4 million.

Cooks will count $6 million against the Cowboys’ salary cap.

Cooks is under contract through 2024 with a base salary of $8 million next season.

He joins the Cowboys after three seasons in Houston, which went 11-38-1 in his time there. The Cowboys won 12 games each of the past two seasons.

“I couldn’t be more hungry,” Cooks said Monday. “The last three years is what it is, but I tell you when you step into a locker room like this and an organization, and you got those three years under your belt like that, I mean, that fuel is just definitely fueling the fire to be able to come out here and just show up and help my team win. I can’t wait. I truly can’t.”

Seahawks announce release of Al Woods

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks
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The Seahawks released defensive tackle Al Woods on Monday, the team announced. They parted ways after three seasons in his second stint with the team, saving $3.67 million in cash and cap space.

Woods, who turns 36 next week, was a defensive co-captain last season along with Quandre Diggs.

The 13-year veteran started 30 games the past two years, totaling a career-high 50 tackles in 2021 and 39 tackles last season. He also recorded 3.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss combined the past two years.

His departure continues an overhaul of the defensive line. The Seahawks released Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson last week and have added defensive ends Dre'Mont Jones and Jarran Reed in free agency.

Cam Newton will throw at Auburn’s Pro Day on Tuesday

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
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Cam Newton hasn’t lost his swag, but what he wants is another chance.

The free agent quarterback confirmed in a social media post that he will throw during Auburn’s Pro Day on Tuesday.

“Tell me how these randoms keep getting jobs,” Newton says during the video before later adding, “Ain’t 32 mother [expletive] better than me. You dig?”

Newton, 33, has not played since 2021 during a second stint with the Panthers.

He last won a game in 2020, last passed for 3,000 yards in 2018, last started every game in a season in 2017, last started a playoff game in 2017 and last made the Pro Bowl in 2015. Newton also was league MVP in 2015 when he led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and an appearance in the Super Bowl.

He spent 10 seasons with Carolina and one with New England.

Cardinals announce they have agreed to terms with Zach Pascal, David Blough

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
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The Cardinals announced they have agreed to a two-year contract with receiver Zach Pascal and a one-year deal with quarterback David Blough.

Pascal, who stands 6 foot 2, gives the Eagles some size at the position.

He follows new Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon from Philadelphia, where Pascal played last season after four seasons in Indianapolis.

In 2022, Pascal appeared in all 17 games for the Eagles, making 15 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 37.5 catches for 472 yards in his four seasons in Indianapolis, and the only game he has missed in five seasons was against the Cardinals in 2021 when he was out with COVID-19.

The Cardinals still have No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins on their roster, along with Hollywood Brown, Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch, but they are attempting to trade Hopkins.

Blough returns to Arizona after starting the last two games of 2022.

He completed 38 of 58 passes for 402 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He joins Colt McCoy as the options — for now — to fill in for Kyler Murray while Murray rehabs his surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament.

Falcons announce Mike Hughes’ signing

NFL: DEC 15 Vikings at Chargers
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The Falcons announced the signing of defensive back Mike Hughes to a one-year deal Monday.

Hughes, 26, visited the team earlier in the day.

He spent last season with the Lions. He played 53 percent of the offensive snaps over 16 games, with six starts. He saw action on 563 defensive snaps and 100 on special teams.

Hughes totaled 51 tackles and one pass defensed in 2022.

The Vikings made him the 30th overall pick in 2018, and he spent three seasons in Minnesota. Hughes appeared in 24 games with seven starts.

He spent the 2021 season in Kansas City, playing 17 games with five starts.

In his career, Hughes has three interceptions, 20 passes defensed and seven forced fumbles.

Bills add former Patriots running back Damien Harris

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
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With the Patriots adding running back James Robinson, it became more likely that running back Damien Harris would move on.

He has.

Via multiple reports, Harris has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills.

Harris, a four-year veteran, had a career-high 929 rushing yards with New England in 2021. Last year, he appeared in only 11 games, gaining 462 rushing yards.

The Bills need help at the position, with Devin Singletary gone via free agency to the Texans. James Cook showed promise as a rookie in 2022. They also have Duke Johnson and Nyheim Hines on the roster.

The Patriots will now rely on Robinson and Rhamondre Stevenson. Last year, Stevenson rushed for 1,040 yards in his second NFL season.

Cam Sims agrees to terms with Raiders

Washington Commanders v Philadelphia Eagles
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The Raiders have agreed to terms with free agent receiver Cam Sims, Ben Standig of reports.

Washington signed receiver Marcus Kemp from the Chiefs after Eric Bieniemy’s arrival as offensive coordinator, signaling the end of Sims’ time in Washington.

The Raiders are loaded at the position after this offseason, with Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Renfrow as their top three options.

Sims, 27, spent his first five seasons with Washington. He played 55 games with 17 starts and totaled 57 receptions for 804 yards and three touchdowns.

He was a core special teams player in 2022, seeing action on 244 snaps in 17 games. Sims also played 328 offensive snaps.

Sims recorded eight catches for 89 yards and three tackles.

Josh Dobbs returns to the Browns on a one-year deal

Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars
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The well-traveled Josh Dobbs has taken the highway back to Cleveland.

His agent, Mike McCartney, has announced that Dobbs has signed a one-year deal with the Browns.

Dobbs, a fourth-round pick of the Steelers in 2017, spent most of last season with the Browns. Once starter Deshaun Watson was reinstated, however, Dobbs was waived.

The former Tennessee quarterback cleared waivers and joined the Detroit practice squad. Sixteen days later, the Titans added Dobbs to the active roster. Not long after that, Dobbs started for a Thursday night win over the Cowboys.

That performance earned for Dobbs another start with Tennessee, in Week 18 against the Jaguars. The win-and-in game didn’t work out for the Titans.

With starter Ryan Tannehill still on the roster and Malik Willis the No. 2, there was no spot for Dobbs in Tennessee. With Jacoby Brissett moving on from the Browns, the backup job behind Watson was open.

The only other quarterbacks on the Cleveland roster are Watson and Kellen Mond, a third-round pick of the Vikings in 2021.

Dobbs spent two years in Pittsburgh. He was traded to Jacksonville early in the 2019 season. He then returned to the Steelers for 2020 and 2021. He joined the Browns during the 2022 offseason.

Lonnie Johnson agrees to one-year deal with Saints

Dallas Cowboys v Tennessee Titans
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Free agent defensive back Lonnie Johnson is signing a one-year deal with the Saints, Jordan Schultz of TheScore reports.

Johnson confirmed the signing by replying to Schultz’s post, writing, “@saints, let’s get to work.”

He visited the Seahawks last week.

Johnson, 27, played 12 games with the Titans last season, seeing action on 165 defensive snaps and 182 on special teams. He had 11 tackles.

The Texans made Johnson a second-round pick in 2019, and he spent his first three seasons in Houston. He was traded to the Chiefs last May but waived during training camp before landing with Tennessee.

In 2021, Johnson had three interceptions and six passes defensed in 14 games, including seven starts, for Houston.

Drew Lock on his return to Seattle: They’re building something here

Las Vegas Raiders v Seattle Seahawks
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The Seahawks announced the re-signing of quarterback Drew Lock on Monday after he signed his new contract.

Lock returned to the Seahawks despite playing no snaps last season after losing the starting job to Geno Smith during the preseason.

“They’re building something here,” Lock said, via John Boyle of the team website. “It’s really, really cool, and I really want to be a part of it. This is a special place. There was everything drawing me back here. The city. Pete [Carroll] and John [Schneider] have just created a place that is unique. It’s a place I couldn’t walk away from without spending a little more time here.”

Schneider raved about Lock last week after the sides agreed to terms. The Seahawks made his return a priority, wanting a veteran familiar with the system as Smith’s backup.

In three seasons with the Broncos, Lock started 21 games. He completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 4,740 yards, 25 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

“I feel like I learned more in this last year,” Lock said. “I didn’t play, but I learned so much from being with Shane [Waldron], being with Pete, hearing how they talk football, and situation football, and how to handle a locker room. Everything those guys taught me last year, again, I’m excited to be able to come back and be here for another year and learn more from them.”

Lock was Smith’s biggest supporter in 2022 as Smith earned his first Pro Bowl and comeback player of the year in his first season as a full-time starter since 2014.

“It was awesome,” Lock said. “It’s an example I hope to be able to follow and live up to, hopefully create a story like that of my own. What an awesome guy to sit behind and learn behind and watch that unfold and be inspired by. Because not everybody gets to come into the league and have a picture-perfect first couple of years — Super Bowl, be the starter, sign a long-term deal. Not everybody gets that, and it’s a testament to him to be able to keep sticking to it, and it’s something I’m going to carry with me for the rest of my career as long as I get to play.”

Austin Hooper set to visit with Raiders

Dallas Cowboys v Tennessee Titans
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The Raiders may not be done adding tight ends to the roster.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that free agent Austin Hooper is set to visit with the team on Wednesday. The news comes hours after the Raiders signed tight end O.J. Howard.

Hooper was No. 56 on PFT’s list of this offseason’s top free agents. He spent last season with the Titans on a one-year deal and caught 41 passes for 444 yards and two touchdowns while appearing in every regular season game.

Hooper spent two seasons in Cleveland and four years with the Falcons before going to Tennessee. He had 298 catches for 3,026 yards and 14 touchdowns in those stops.

Justin Evans agrees to sign with Eagles

New Orleans Saints v Arizona Cardinals
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The Eagles are making an addition to their secondary.

NFL Media reports that safety Justin Evans has agreed to terms with the team. The move comes after safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson left the Eagles to sign with the Lions.

Evans returned from missing three seasons with injuries to appear in 15 games for the Saints last season. He had 29 tackles, two passes defensed, and a forced fumble.

Evans played for the Bucs before his injury issues and had 125 tackles, four interceptions, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in 24 appearances for Tampa.

The Eagles also saw safety Marcus Epps leave the team as a free agent, which leaves K'Von Wallace and Reed Blankenship as the returning safeties who played the most snaps for the Eagles last season.

Mike Hughes visits Falcons

Detroit Lions vs Buffalo Bills
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Free agent defensive back Mike Hughes visited the Falcons on Monday, according to the NFL’s personnel notice.

Hughes, 26, spent last season with the Lions. He played 53 percent of the offensive snaps over 16 games, with six starts. He saw action on 563 defensive snaps and 100 on special teams.

Hughes totaled 51 tackles and one pass defensed in 2022.

The Vikings made him the 30th overall pick in 2018, and he spent three seasons in Minnesota. Hughes appeared in 24 games with seven starts.

He spent the 2021 season in Kansas City, playing 17 games with five starts.

In his career, Hughes has three interceptions, 20 passes defensed and seven forced fumbles.

Sean Murphy-Bunting signs with Titans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
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Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting won’t be taking any more free agent visits.

Murphy-Bunting visited with the Titans on Monday and his meeting with the team ended with a contract. Murphy-Bunting hinted at an agreement and multiple reports indicate that he’s signing a one-year deal with the AFC South team.

Murphy-Bunting was a Bucs second-round pick in 2019 and started 36 of the 53 regular season games he played with Tampa. He had 188 tackles, six interceptions, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an interception return for a touchdown in those appearances.

Murphy-Bunting also had three interceptions during the Bucs’ run to the Super Bowl LV title and he had 29 tackles in six total postseason appearances.