TAMPA — Crickets chirping. The sound of one hand clapping. Mimes screaming.
That's how much noise the Bucs made during the first few days of free agency.
General manager Mark Dominik tried to warn Bucs fans that the team will focus almost entirely on the draft this year. By now, you should take him at his word.
There is probably more activity around the league the first few days of the free agent signing period than many anticipated.
With more than 200 players restricted rather than unrestricted because of the uncapped year, the activity was supposed to be minimal.
But some teams, such as the Bears, were active in part because of a lack of draft picks.
But the Bucs? Nada.
Their philosophy is easy to follow, albeit not exactly in concert with fans wishes.
Because so many college juniors declared early, the 2010 draft is very deep, so teams are reluctant to forfeit draft picks for restricted free agents and the few unrestricted ones who are 29 to 30 years old.
Assuming there will be football in 2011, more than 400 free agents could be on the market next season, and the draft will be diluted. But can the Bucs afford not to bring in a veteran or two? Not really.
At some point, they must find a veteran receiver or two to help make plays for QB Josh Freeman. Dominik thinks more will come available and trades are possible.
In the meantime, be skeptical about reports linking the Bucs to a free agent. For example, the National Football Post reported the Bucs had a "huge" interest in Packers DE Aaron Kampman. But he is coming off a major knee injury, and team officials said there is no interest.
Fear not. The draft is just 47 days away.
Winds of change: The biggest difference for Raheem Morris in his second season as head coach will be that he'll remain true to his convictions and tune out all the advice in the building.
"The biggest lesson I learned was making decisions and doing what you believe is right," Morris said. "Because the wind blows in all different directions, and you can't worry about the wind. You've got to do what you think is right. If you go down, go down swinging."
Morris said the Bucs can be more competitive this season, but he won't predict a win total.
"I believe that we have the guys in place, that if we do the right things, we can win a significant amount of games to put ourselves in a position to compete with anybody," he said. "That's probably what last year was and what the end of the season was. I don't know a team at the end of the season that I would say I didn't want to play. We played the Saints, we played Atlanta, and we played Green Bay. No disrespect to those teams, I don't look at any of those teams and say I don't want to play them."
Better picture: Many in the NFL say it takes about 30 starts to determine whether a quarterback will make it in the league. Dominik says it takes 25.
Considering that Freeman, 22, started the last nine games of 2009, a true picture should emerge by the end of the season.
"Certainly, he exceeded my expectations," Morris said. "Not that I thought he would fail, but this is the hardest position in sports. And now, the way it happened, you got him nine games of experience, you got him three wins, and you've got a hungry, young individual. Maybe his hunger wouldn't have been as much if he had been given the job."