Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs' window for dealing likely closed

TAMPA — On the heels of Bucs left tackle Donald Penn getting his long-awaited contract extension, attention has predictably turned to whether the Bucs have one in store for others — namely linebacker Barrett Ruud.

For the short term, it's becoming clear the answer is no.

How, then, does the club reconcile awarding Penn a $48 million extension while leaving Ruud, the club's leading tackler the past three seasons, to play on a one-year, restricted free agent deal?

It boils down to priorities, and Penn, given his essential role of protecting the quarterback and the fact that he remained unsigned a day before training camp, ranked higher.

"I think in any organization, you have to look at somewhat of a pecking order in terms of what you're going to do for your organization," general manager Mark Dominik said. "We certainly have a lot of excitement about Josh Freeman being our franchise quarterback. Donald Penn's played really well over the last couple years, and we're excited to have him for six more."

Later, Dominik added: "I think every situation is different in the National Football League. At the same time, you can look at it and say this is part of (our) plan. We have a foundation that we really like. It's not just the draft classes from 2009 and 2010. We have players on this football team that we really like."

It remains to be seen how all this will go over with Ruud, the team's 2005 second-round pick out of Nebraska who, for two consecutive days, has uncharacteristically not spoken with reporters.

Coach Raheem Morris says that Ruud, along with other potentially perturbed restricted free agents such as tackle Jeremy Trueblood and running back Cadillac Williams — along with impending free agent guard Davin Joseph — haven't reacted negatively to their lack of contract extensions.

"We're not going to manufacture drama," said Morris, who has a close relationship with Ruud. "With Barrett, he signed his tender, and we've decided to move on — him and myself both. … He understands the process, and he's a grown man. He's handled it.

"I would hate to put words in his mouth. He signed his tender. He's come to work. He's been there in the offseason. He's out there now. He's the leader of the defense. I'm not going to manufacture drama for him because it's so not dramatic for him."

On Friday, Ruud said he supported Penn in his effort to land a new contract, an effort that included Penn staying away from the team all offseason. Ruud used a similar tactic in the summer of 2009, but it did little to jump-start contract talks on an extension as he entered the final season of his rookie deal.

It didn't help that Ruud's performance in 2009 was hurt by the defensive scheme change under coordinator Jim Bates. It was no coincidence Ruud looked quite different in the final six games after Morris took over defensive play-calling and reverted to a style that Ruud was more comfortable with. That disparity is, perhaps, part of what has given the team pause about doing a long-term deal with Ruud.

He and other Bucs seeking long-term commitments can only hope to shine in 2010, and make the choice easy for Dominik and the ownership.

"I don't think (Penn's extension) guarantees anything," Trueblood said. "I just think whenever they have the opportunity to secure somebody, they have to take care of it. You don't know what they're thinking. But you can't care about that."

Veteran center Jeff Faine said a deal such as Penn's can be more of a motivating factor for young players rather than a sore spot. It's an example, he said, of what could await them if they perform well.

"We're happy for him," Faine said. "At the end of the day, especially for the younger guys, when you see a guy sign a long-term deal, that's great for you. It's great for everybody; everybody but the owners."

Will there be more deals? Not now, but maybe later. It all depends on what the candidates for those contracts do in the long term.

"Realistically, you can't do anything without playing well," said Joseph, the club's 2006 first-round pick. "And focusing on training camp one day at a time is going to get me there. (Do) stuff like winning games, fighting; then everything will take care of itself."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at

Bucs leading tackler Barrett Ruud said Friday he supported Donald Penn seeking a new deal, but has been quiet since.


Bucs leading tackler Barrett Ruud said Friday he supported Donald Penn seeking a new deal, but has been quiet since.

Bucs' window for dealing likely closed 08/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 2, 2010 12:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs


    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  2. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  3. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  4. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.