Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer says financial commitment in Bucs has not been less since purchase of Manchester United
Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said his family's commitment to the Bucs has not wavered since their purchase of the Manchester United soccer club and vowed they will do "whatever we've got to do to win.''
The Bucs are coming off a 3-13 season under first-year coach Raheem Morris and have been largely bystanders during free agency.
Meanwhile, Manchester United has generated headlines for the more than $1-billion of debt the team has incurred since the family purchased it in 2005.
"Everything you do operates independently,'' Glazer said Wednesday at the NFL owner's meeting in Orlando. "We're in a lot of different businesses. We just happen to be in another one that is very high profile. There's a lot of owners that own a lot of other businesses, they're just not the high-profile nature that are easy for people to write about and talk about.
"Tampa has always operated independently and is sustained. It's very healthy. Unfortunately, there are a couple of events that have been happening at the same time that give the appearance -- and I can understand why people say that or think that. But again, when you look at what the facts are, when I walk you through why we are where we are, that's the reason. And I think when you look at no players to necessarily re-sign the last couple years. Then there's the argument you haven't been big players in free agency and I point to where big players in free agency have had success in the National Football League. Those are the facts.
"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers stand on their own. It's a very healthy franchise. Our business interests are all very healthy. It's just that what most people like to talk about is so high profile, it's easy to draw a parallel.But I can assure people the commitment has not lessened, it's not wavered. The depression at 0-7 was something I've never felt before in my entire life. But I also know the feeling of being on top and I want to feel that again.''
"We will do whatever we've got to do to win. No one likes losing. No one likes it less than us. We're used to having success. We've had success here and in other places. That's what this is all about. Three and 13 is not what it's all about. But 3-13 is part of a plan I'm willing to endure. I'm willing to endure the criticism, the pain, the hit, the sales of tickets and all that because we know at the end of the day that it's winning, a sustained success and connection to the players that dictates everrything.''
Glazer said a history of poor NFL drafts, which coincidentally paralelled with the purchase of the soccer club, is partly responsible for the low Bucs payrolls. Simply put, the biggest expense for a team is re-signing players to long-term extensions and the drafts -- beginning when the team traded four picks for coach Jon Gruden -- have failed to produce star players.
"I always like to take a couple steps back and give the totality, the total picture, the total plan,'' Glazer said. "I always find that when it gets explained to people, they say, "Okay, I understand that. That makes sense. Now I get it.
"The big money for all teams is spent by re-signing your own guys. You draft somebody, the draft picks generally come cheaper, then you re-sign them and those are the big contracts. Again, you have to go back five years. You go back five years and look at the drafts we had, and the lack of some draft picks a little further back. Those are all guys -- four, five, six, seven, eight people -- whose contracts would have been coming up in the last two or three years -- who all would've gotten nice, big contracts. Contracts I would be happy to be sitting here writing because that would mean we drafted well, we had good players and we're re-signing them to long-term deals. So we have this void the last three or four years. We haven't had those.
"It doesn't take very long to spend $30- or $40-million in the National Football League. That's re-signing guys. It didn't exist on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There's no draft picks we wanted to keep.
"Number two, go back to the beginning of last year. There was a reason we made some changes. We made some changes because we recognized we had aging core group of individuals that was not sustainable. We were headed off a cliff here. That cliff did come, but we said we'd better be proactive to this than reactive in dealing with this. When I say proactive, it meant a plan. Number one, we have to start bringing in some young talent on this team. It's time for some of the older people to move on so some of the younger people get an opportunity to come in, grow, develop and become part of the team. And that has been the plan, that we've got to start building the base with young talent.
"If you look at the teams that have had sustained success, it's the teams that have done it and got it right.
"With that being the plan, letting older veterans go, a void of draft picks from previous years, making a conscious decision to go that route, the way the NFL has been is there are some years your spending is up and a series of years your spending is down. Then hopefully, you go back up. We are in that period right now.
"There are unique opportunities when they do come up, we'll take advantage of them. Kellen Winslow is an example. That's a guy who fit the profile. Younger, talented. You make a trade for a second-round pick. I think that would've cost us a million dollars last year and we turn it into a guy we're paying $7-million to.''
Glazer said the team made a conscious decision not to be big players in free agency, which consisted of mostly older players.
"Yes, we could go out and sign a couple of 29- and 30-year-old free agents. But I don't know what that does for us long-term,'' Glazer said. "That could get us back in that mediocrity of 7-9, 8-8, 9-7 and that cycle we're really not inteested in. That's not going to win us a championship. It may feel a little better. I'll go through a lot less criticism, no question about that. But that's fool's gold. We're not in the business of fool's gold. We're in the business of winning championships.''