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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Smith's control of 53-man roster is another leap of faith



Bucs coach Lovie Smith asked for and was given contractual control of the Bucs 53-man roster, the Times confirmed, which is another demonstration of faith by the Glazer family.

Smith never had such a strong voice in personnel matters with the Chicago Bears. In fact, it's an organizational structure the Glazers had for only one season, in '95, when they purchased the team and coach Sam Wyche was also the head of football operations. He was quickly stripped of those duties when Rich McKay was installed as general manager.

Smith's control of the 53-man roster almost certainly would limit the Bucs' opportunity to attract an experienced general manager. That's why it's likely someone with ties to Smith, such as Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard, would be a frontrunner to fill the role with the Bucs.

Smith and Ballard go way back. Ballard, who is also from Texas, played at Wisconsin when Smith was an assistant coach there.

What does it mean? Smith has the kind of power reserved for coaches such as the Patriots Bill Belichick. Certainly, after nine seasons as a head coach with the Bears, he knows the type of players that will thrive in his offensive and defensive system. But in addition to his familiarity with the Bucs, if you're looking for the difference between this head coaching job and the Detroit Lions, who have Martin Mayhew as general manager, complete control over the roster is a huge distinction.

It also means Smith will have ultimate authority over the NFL draft. The Bucs own the No. 7 overall pick in 2014.

[Last modified: Sunday, January 5, 2014 1:09pm]


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