Bucs GM Dominik defends team's thrifty approach to free agency
General manager Mark Dominik made it clear a month before the start of free agency that the Bucs would be content to remain on the sideline when it came to pursuing high-priced veteran talent.
But the youth movement the team began last year with the purging of veterans -- and a plummeting player payroll among the lowest in the NFL -- has nothing to do with any financial constraints placed on the Bucs by the Glazer family, according to Dominik.
"That's not been instructed and that's not the direction,'' Dominik said from the NFL owners meetings in Orlando Tuesday. "Our ownership has shown a history of buying players. I mean, Simeon Rice was the highest-paid defensive player in the National Football League.
"It may seem the other way where it's just being cheap and they don't want to be involved and they're just trying to save the money. For me, when I got this opportunity and we sat down and I talked about what I envisioned for this football team, we wanted to build this football team with the youth and the draft as we did in years past. If you want to go make the splash in free agency and feel like it's going to get you over the hump, you do it.
"But the same team last year used a second round pick to trade for Kellen Winslow. And we gave Kellen Winslow at that time a contract to make him the highest-paid tight end. A lot of people questioned that and I understand. He goes out and catches 77 balls, sets a franchise record for tight ends. I'm glad we did that deal now. Because now we'd be sitting here on the final year of his deal and now what kind of deal are we looking at? At the time, we spent the money because we saw a guy who was a long-term goal guy. Again, we spent the money there where we wanted to have a player here for a long time.''
If the Bucs were under a salary cap system in 2010, their cap figure of $79-million for player costs would be tied with Kansas City for last in the league. The Glazer family reportedly has incurred more than a $1-billion debt for their purchase and operation of the Manchester United soccer club.
The Bucs have made three significant moves during the off-season. They signed Eagles free agent Sean Jones to a two-year contract, traded a sixth-round pick in 2011 to Philadelphia for receiver Reggie Brown and signed reserve Raiders linebacker Jon Alston.