Subtle hints suggest Bucs will be players in free agency
Lost amid all the news and fallout from Greg Schiano’s hiring by the Bucs last week was an interesting conversation we had with general manager Mark Dominik about the Bucs’ approach to this offseason.
You heard co-chairman Joel Glazer’s emphatic statements earlier this month on free-agent spending and his vow that the Bucs will do what it takes to again become competitive in the NFC South.
Now, Dominik offers similar sentiments when asked about areas of the roster that need to be improved and how the team will go about making that happen.
“We understand we’re not a finished product,” he said. “I know that there’s things we need to address on this team and I know that we’ll do it in all capacities. We’re going to do it in free agency. I don’t want people to be worried that we’re not going to spend in free agency. We’ll be involved.”
The draft also will continue to be a central part of the process.
“We’ll absolutely do it in the draft,” he said. “We have the fifth pick in the draft. Whether we stay there or move around, it’s a big selection for our football team. But there’s still things that have to be addressed on this football team from a talent aspect, absolutely. And I look forward to Coach Schiano being a big piece of that in terms of making sure we bring the right men to this football program and it becomes successful the way he wants it to be.”
We’re sure fans have their free-agent wish lists, and those dreams may or may not come true. But given the investment in Schiano (who received a 5-year contract) and the tenor of the press conference (about this being a new beginning for the Buccaneers), you get the feeling there’s going to be a change in approach from ownership.
Another key: Schiano didn’t need this job. He had a good situation at Rutgers. You can assume he made his expectations and hopes clear before signing on.
“When we were interviewing him, I know that he was interviewing us, too,” Dominik said. “You could tell by the questions that he would ask back that were very specific, intelligent questions. He doesn’t just want to be in the NFL. He wants to find the right job. For him to choose Tampa speaks volumes for what he (sees) here and what we’re trying to do here.
“All (candidates) had questions, but it’s the depth of the questions that made me feel confident that if Schiano was offered the head-coaching job of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I believe he wants to be the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
I would be stunned if at least some of those questions didn’t deal with player acquisitions.
While no one expects the Bucs to go on a spending bonanza similar to that of the Eagles of 2011 – and that’s not a prudent approach anyway – notice that you don’t hear the same buzzwords you’ve heard in the past. They still believe in building through the draft, but no one seems to be talking about free agency as if it’s a plague, either.
We’ll know in another several weeks when the signing period begins what level of involvement the Bucs will have in free agency. But there is reason to think they will, in fact, be players in the market.