Bucs will place highest tender on Donald Penn, angering agent
The Bucs have informed LT Donald Penn's representative that they intend to place the highest possible restricted free agent tender on the four-year veteran, making it very unlikely he'll play elsewhere in 2010 and severely limiting his ability to secure a long-term contract.
That means the team will tender Penn a one-year offer of $3.168 million. The Bucs would receive a first- and third-round draft pick from a team that signs Penn to a free-agent contract while also retaining the right to match any competing offer.
All of which means Penn will probably be considered off limits by other teams and likely won't be receiving a long-term contract from the Bucs. And this is a development that is sure to leave the player and team at odds.
"They're basically admitting he is one of the best tackles in the league," agent Rocky Arceneaux told The Times. "I think this is ridiculous."
Penn, 26, has long been seeking a long-term contract from the team, but Arceneaux maintains there has been little willingness by the club to offer a contract commensurate with his status as a starting left tackle.
Penn was hoping for a lesser tender as a courtesy because it might have enticed another team to present an offer since the draft pick compensation would have been lower. Under that scenario, Arceneaux said, the Bucs could have opted to match or let him walk while receiving something in return.
Instead, "He's being punished two years in a row," Arceneaux said, referring to the fact Penn played under the same tender last season, though for slightly less money.
"You're saying he's worth a 1 and a 3 but they won't pay him," Arceneaux added. "So, basically, they agree with me that he's a valuable player."
Penn battled weight issues last year and didn't endear himself to the coaching staff as a result. But his play was exemplary, as he shut down some of the best defensive ends in the NFL. He has started the past 44 games at left tackle, a position that had long been a weakness for Tampa Bay. Today's news is likely to have a significant impact on Penn's offseason attendance. His attendance was spotty last season but it's expected he'll rarely be in attendance this summer during voluntary workouts.
And don't expect Penn to sign the offer anytime soon as his agent works to find a solution that will result in more compensation for his client, however limited those options might be. Penn is among the more than 200 players who will be adversely affected by the uncapped year in 2010. In an uncapped year, unrestricted free agency requires six accrued seasons of service rather than the standard four seasons in a capped year.
"If not for the uncapped year," Arceneaux said, "he'd be getting franchised or would be an unrestricted free agent."