Manningham to Bucs is far from a slam dunk
Clark Judge of CBSSports.com created a sizable stir over the weekend with a report that indicated Giants receiver Mario Manningham is unlikely to re-sign with New York and could be bound for the Bucs.
Judge is a reputable reporter and there's presumably serious merit to this report, but let's take a step back and take a broader look at this possibility.
There are a number of reasons this might not be a slam dunk. While the link to Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is an obvious one (Sullivan previously worked for the Giants), it might be premature to say Manningham will be comfortable in Sullivan's offense. It remains unclear what Sullivan's offense will actually look like because he wasn't the playcaller in New York nor did he design the scheme.
Sullivan's offensive principles and preferences will be known to Manningham, but whether that seals the deal is hard to say. It is worth pointing out that Sullivan, having coached the Giants' receivers, too, likely will know how to use Manningham for maximum impact.
Another issue here is whether Manningham is the best fit for Tampa Bay. The Bucs already have receivers with similar skill sets in Mike Williams, Dez Briscoe and, to a lesser extent, Arrelious Benn. Most observers, including me, seem to think what they lack is a player whose strength is getting vertical. If the likes of DeSean Jackson or Vincent Jackson become free agents, they seem like more sensible choices for the Bucs. Both are consistent deep threats who will make the Bucs' remaining receivers more dangerous.
When judging Manningham in general, a fair question is how much of his success with the Giants was a result of the other receivers on the field (Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz), not to mention quarterback Eli Manning, who is coming off a brilliant season? The Bucs' receivers, as a group, didn't play nearly as well last season, and that has to be a consideration here.
We're now 15 days away from the start of the NFL's signing period, and the Bucs will continue to be linked to a number off impending free agents given their $67 million in cap space. Manningham makes some sense on some levels, but the Bucs have deep pockets and a number of choices (including the draft).
So, let's let things play out on the receiver front because it's still a bit too early to predict where things are going.