Bucs free agents sent restricted tenders; no deals before CBA expires, GM Dominik says
Turns out cornerback Ronde Barber will be the only Bucs free agent to receive a new contract before the collective bargaining agreement expires next week, general manager Mark Dominik said Thursday.
As a result, Dominik said the team has sent out restricted free agent tenders to guard Davin Joseph, tackle Jeremy Trueblood, and linebackers Quincy Black, Adam Hayward, Maurice Stovall, Stylez White and Tim Crowder -- even though those tags may not be binding once a new CBA is reached.
"We have letters created and are sending them all out to guys we're going to tender,'' Dominik said at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "It includes exclusive rights and all the restricted guys. So we created all those letters, they went out over the last 24 hours and I'm sure you'll hear more of the guys we have tendered. We'll go with business as usual in terms of what we would do normally so we're preparing that way.
"My mindset is to make sure we do our due diligence from the club standpoint. So if they are binding, which they could be depending on how this whole thing works out, we didn't let something slip through the cracks.''
Barber signed a one-year contract Tuesday to return to the team for a club record 15th consecutive season.
But other players won't be as fortunate. Under the current CBA which expires March 4, players need six years of service to become unrestricted free agents because 2010 did not include a salary cap.
Joseph, Trueblood and Stovall have played five seasons. Prior to 2010, they would've been eligible to become unrestricted free agents after only four seasons.
The Bucs are using the tenders to make it more difficult for their players whose contracts have expired to sign with another team.
Joseph is expected to receive a one-year tender worth $3.168-million, well below his value as an unrestricted free agent. The Bucs would have the right to match any offer he might receive from another team. If they chose not to match it, the Bucs would receive a first- and third-round pick as compensation.
Dominik said he wasn't sure how the decision to tender players as restricted would be received.
"You never know. Whenever you send a tender letter to somebody, I think we all feel like we're worth X or whatever it is,'' Dominik said. "The point is, that doesn't preclude you from doing a long-term deal. So the reality is, I just told the player I want him and he's a good player. That's the way I perceive it and that's the way it will be told to the agent and certainly to the player.''
A year ago, the Bucs tendered free agent tackle Donald Penn a one-year deal worth $3.168-million and he held out of the off-season workout program and Organized Team Activities. He reported only after signing a 6-year, $43-million contract on the first day of training camp.
"He got a tender letter and at the end of the day, he got a deal,'' Dominik said. "That could certainly happen. But it's harder if you don't get a letter. Let's say it that way as to what it really says. The guys that get letter it shows they have value to us and we want them to be part of our football team going forward.''
Linebacker Barrett Ruud and running back Cadillac Williams have played six seasons in the NFL and will become unrestricted free agents. The Bucs are interested in re-signing them, but both are likely to hit the free agent market. Other Bucs unrestricted free agents include tight end John Gilmore and linebacker Niko Koutouvides.
Cornerback Elbert Mack, defensive tackle Frank Okam, receiver Micheal Spurlock, place kicker Conner Barth, offensive tackle James Lee and safety Corey Lynch have played three seasons and are RFAs, even under the old system. The Bucs own the exclusive rights to quarterback Rudy Carpenter, running back Kareem Huggins, defensive end Michael Bennett and offensive tackle Demar Dotson.
"I think we've done our deals now until we get clarity (on the CBA),'' Dominik said. "So right now, I would say it was important to get Ronde Barber done, I think for him and for us and just the fans, who are excited to have him back. So that's why we were able to come to a deal prior to March (and) free agency...It's just the smart thing to do so you should be doing it.
"We're here, actually, today, we're talking to every one of our players and telling them what our plans are and what we're going to do with them whether they're on the football team and under contract or scheduled to become unrestricted. We're certainly being very clear and very open and Barrett is certainly in that group.''
Ruud is the only player since Derrick Brooks to lead the team in tackles for four straight seasons.