Big day could be a big letdown
So, the Bucs are swimming salary-cap space with more than $40-million dollars available. As free agency begins tonight at 12:01 a.m., surely they must be frothing at the mouth to go shopping, right?
Don't be so sure.
The Bucs will do lots of signing the next several weeks if for no other reason than they have some spots to fill. But don't assume they're going to be chasing the big money free agents that everyone's talking about. Based on what we've heard from insiders, indications are the Bucs will proceed as they historically have in recent years. That means avoiding too many contracts with hefty signing bonuses, the type that sit on your salary cap for years to come.
That's not what most want to hear, but it's a very strong possibility based on information from our most respected sources. As an example, CB Asante Samuel and DE Justin Smith are two players who at this point appear very unlikely to end up in Tampa Bay. C Jeff Faine has generated some conversation, but I've been told Tampa isn't seen as a likely destination for the New Orleans Saint.
There's always the chance the Bucs will wind up signing a surprise player to whom they haven't been linked. But it's more likely the Bucs are going to target players they see as complementary pieces to what they already have in place. And don't underestimate how thin this class of free agents is, either. There are going to be a lot of average guys receiving contracts normally reserved for elite players.
In the end, don't be surprised if things at One Buc Place are a little quieter than expected as free agency commences. We'll be here all the way through to tell you what we know when we know it.