TAMPA — As late as Friday morning, the Bucs and Josh Norman had strong, mutual interest in working out a deal that would bring the Panthers' former franchise cornerback to Tampa Bay.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht recognizes and respects Norman's talent and impact, having competed against him twice a year in the NFC South. Last season against the Bucs, Norman had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, six tackles and four passes defensed.
But teams must place a limit on the value of every player, and Norman exceeded it. With as many as nine teams bidding, the Bucs simply felt Norman's salary got too rich to justify and pulled out of the sweepstakes Friday morning, long before he signed a five-year, $75 million deal with Washington with $51.1 million guaranteed. So this wasn't a case of the Bucs bailing after Norman chose to sign somewhere else.
Signing Norman, who was never expected to make it to free agency, would've been a huge plus to the Bucs, especially less than a week before the NFL draft. It would've removed any immediate need for a cornerback, which they might address with the No. 9 overall pick.
But Norman will be 29 in December. His average salary makes him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, eclipsing Arizona's Patrick Peterson ($14.01 million annually). Moreover, he would've been the Bucs' highest-paid player.
Norman would've looked good to fans in pewter and red, but he only cared about the color of money.
Groundwork for Glennon trade?: The signing of CFL QB Dan LeFevour last week positions the Bucs well, with Ryan Griffin already on the roster, to trade backup Mike Glennon.
It's unlikely a deal would happen before the NFL draft. But the Jets, Broncos and Browns would all seem to be in the market if they don't land a quarterback on the first day of the draft. Licht would prefer to keep Glennon as insurance for Jameis Winston, who took every snap last season. Glennon has 18 starts in the league and is better than most available veteran backups. He's also cheaper at $1.5 million. But if Licht can get a second-round pick for Glennon, he probably makes the deal.
Two losses led to four: Winston says the four-game losing streak to end the 2015 season can be traced directly to the loss of two key players — WR Vincent Jackson, who suffered a knee injury, and LB Kwon Alexander, who was suspended four games for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
"I still say today losing Kwon was a big thing because he was one of our leaders," Winston said.
Alexander doesn't run from the fact that he let teammates down and vows it will never happen again.
"It's very important. I take all the heat for that," Alexander said. "I was supposed to have been there; that's my fault. But it won't happen again, though. I've never been in trouble (before) or anything, so that surprised me when that happened and it hurt me so bad, to the point like, every game I was still there, watching it and calling plays so I was making sure that I stayed on my game regardless. That's why I just can't wait to get back to the field and let everything out."
Even with Pro Bowl players such as Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, Alexander sets the emotional tone for the defense.
"Yeah, he's the main one. You can't even get him to shut up," David said. "He's talking all day, all day. We're always around each other, so I have to hear him talk all day, and sometimes I tell him, 'You have to chill. I'm tired of you talking, you talk too much,' but that's just how he is, that's the excitement that we have. I'm sure he's probably the same way about me, but that's the excitement we have.
"The sky is the limit for us this year."