Today, the Bucs look faster. They look stronger. They look infinitely more interesting.
More than anything, however the Bucs look more serious than they have in years.
If you are going to cheer anything about their latest shopping excursion, start there.
And who's next?
For the Tampa Bay Bucs, this has been one of the finest weeks in years. After years of pleading from their fans, they have gone to the wallet, and they have added a sensational wide receiver, a superb offensive lineman and a very good defensive back.
This is the kind of week than can start to restore faith. This is the kind of the week that can improve an image. Yes, this is the kind of week than can sell tickets.
And bully for the Bucs.
Let's be honest. This may not work out. It didn't pay off for the Eagles, and it never has for the Redskins. Free agency is like panning for gold, except that the gold goes to the new employees, and it can be difficult to tell what effect a few million dollars in the wallet can have on a team. A lot of players have been worth two cents on the dollar after a big contract.
On the other hand, the Bucs are a much, much more talented team today than a few days ago. Josh Freeman should be more dangerous when he drops back to pass, and the holes should be wider when LeGarrette Blount starts to run, and the secondary should be better in a division filled with quarterbacks and wide receivers.
The Bucs needed an offseason like this. Hey, no one has ever argued against the idea of building through the draft, but there were far too many holes from those awful drafts in the early 2000s to fill through one aspect of talent evaluation. This has a chance, at least, to be the kick-start the Bucs need.
To be honest, the Glazer family needed an offseason like this, too. Just glance at the empty stands, and you could tell how much momentum had been lost. Once, the Glazers seemed willing to invest in winning. Lately, that hasn't been the impression.
This week, however, has made good on Joel Glazers' promise to spend what it takes to produce a winner. Remember when the Bucs fired Raheem Morris? As hard as it was to defend Morris, and it still is, the front office deserved some blame, too. There wasn't enough talent. Now, there is more.
So where else? The Bucs could use a linebacker. Maybe two. They could use a running back. A safety. A right tackle. A tight end. For now, they are better.
You know who got better this week? Freeman got better. Mike Williams, who should see less doubling, got better. Blount got better. Connor Barth, who should be kicking more extra points, got better.
You know who else got better? Greg Schiano got better, and so did his chance of winning. Coaches need players. That's never been a secret. Schiano now has better chess pieces to move around.
You know who else got better? The Bucs' front office, which has more options as it goes into the upcoming draft. It seems you can scratch Justin Blackmon off the Bucs' list of possibilities, doesn't it? Don't be so quick to erase Morris Claiborne, however. If he's still the value at the position, the Bucs should still be interested.
On the other hand, the Bucs have just added flexibility, too. If they are not sold on, say, running back Trent Richardson, they can entertain thoughts of trading down for extra picks. Maybe that gets them a linebacker and a tight end. Or a safety and a running back. The more strength a team has, the more creative it can be in the draft.
It's odd. Even in the offseason, the Bucs have always been the loudest debate in the room. In recent years, that seems to have lessened
For the Bucs, this is a step toward taking back the buzz. The team has found its wallet. It has gained your attention. Good.
On the other hand, has anyone seen a good linebacker looking for work?