Posted in Four Downs

Four Downs: Free Agency Edition

by Staff Report on March 8, 2010

Late Friday, on the first day of free agency local WDAE-AM 620 shock jock Steve “The Big Dog” Duemig masterminded a colorful and witty farce over the airwaves. Telling his listeners that Bucs general manager Mark Dominik reached out to him personally to set the record straight about the swirling speculation of who the Bucs have reached out to thus far in free agency. Per Duemig supposedly Dominik told him “The Buccaneers have not reached out to any unrestricted free agents.” But the farce was taken a step further when Joebucsfan.com took what Duemig stated as gospel and made it out to give fans the sense the Dominik had actually been on the radio to perpetuate the farce even further.

If you believe everything Duemig spew’s over the radio then you probably bought in hook line and sinker as Duemig and Joebucsfan.com are cohorts. One of the first things any astute fan should have asked themselves is what advantage does Dominik and the Bucs gain by shooting down the speculation? The answer is none. For a team that saw its season ticket waiting list wither away last off season and the team playing to less then sellout crowds and hoards of opposing fans in the stands at home games, it would serve no purpose for the organization to go on record and refute any speculation that could have a direct effect on ticket sales.

Many of the NFL’s owners are trying to maintain some level of fiscal responsibility in the first uncapped season since 1993. But there have been a few teams dive head first in to this years pool of players before checking to see if there’s water in the pool. In the process some fans have become enraged the Bucs have not done more to this point to become competitive.

When you break down the contracts of the four biggest names that headed the list of unrestricted free agents in Julius Peppers, Dunta Robinson, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle, none of which are considered in the top three at their respective positions but all were given contracts that would suggest they are, it reeks of teams making desperate moves out of desperation. The prudent thing to do is to wait, let the market stabilize till the price point better meets the production level of players available and search for players that fit schematically while adding value to the depth chart.

Some fans are still scratching there heads wondering what the plan is. In-effect the business model or plan that general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris are adhering to is one that emphasizes building through the draft to secure a solid foundation for long term sustainable success. Now many view it as the Glazer’s being cheap and disinterested in the Buccaneers or even as though Dominik is working under some sort of constraints with regards to monetary value set forth that can’t be crossed.

But having a plan that is detailed and outlines specific approaches to doing business and different business models that have been successful using a similar approach to structure your plan and organization after was the first step. That plan can be seen around the league by countless teams. The Colts, Steelers, Ravens and to some extent the Patriots are the model the Bucs are basing there new organizationally shift in philosophy after. But the conviction being shown by Dominik and the Bucs will only work if they have the foresight to adjust accordingly depending on the current situation that is presented each year. Being able to become flexible in said plan and the ability to adapt is what will ultimately lead the team back to being a legitimate contender again.

Of course, there’s still the drafting part and the development of players that will heavily influence the outcome of said plan. But I for one applaud the current regime for showing the conviction to stick with the plan even in a win now type atmosphere.

Fans are up in arms that the team allowed receiver Antonio Bryant to test free agency without even offering him a contract. While no one knows for sure whether or not the Bucs offered Bryant a long term contract extension or not prior to Morris going public at the Scouting Combine with the teams decision to part ways with Bryant. Based on the pool of available receivers this off season its highly doubtful a contract was not offered that was subsequently turned down by Bryant and his representatives.  The old saying goes it takes two and presumably the two sides couldn’t agree on a viable compensation package that would have kept Bryant in the fold for 2010 and beyond.

Bryant by no means is perfect by any stretch and if what was stated in the local papers were true about his propensity to free lance then the team made the right choice in letting him test free agency before making a last ditch effort to resign him.  With Freeman’s development the top priority and a player that causes determent to his growth by his adverse actions and free lancing on the field should have been sent a message that his action will not be tolerated. Its still early so no reason to panic as the situation is not as dire as some make it out to be. If heading into the draft the team doesn’t have another option then it could be construed as a dire situation.

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