TAMPA — During an interview this week, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said the team wouldn't be afraid to shake up its lineup if that was deemed necessary.
"When we're not getting consistent play out of an area, we've been making changes," he said. "And that could continue."
Talk about foreshadowing.
A day later, tremors originated from One Buc Place as the team dealt defensive end Gaines Adams, the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2007, to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick in 2010.
The move is an admission that this season is indeed about the future; the trade gives the Bucs another card to play in what has become a major rebuilding effort. Indications late Friday were that the Bucs were not a significant player in discussions about any of the notable players on the trading block using this pick or others.
The Bucs, with no shortage of holes to fill, now have four picks in the first three rounds of what analysts consider a deep draft.
Adams, 26, who is likely to be replaced in the starting lineup by Stylez White, has been under immense pressure to improve after two disappointing seasons. He has one sack this season, 13½ in 37 career games and hasn't been the force coaches hoped he would be.
During the preseason, coach Raheem Morris was not shy about setting the bar high when asked what would be considered a successful season for Adams.
"Double-digit sacks," Morris said. "That's what he's graded on. There's no secret about it. I've got no problem telling him, 'Hey, Gaines, if you don't do it this year, you're going to be considered a bust.' I told him that in a team meeting. I tell him that every once in a while when we walk out together. He can't wait. He's embraced it. He's going to come out ready to play.
"There's no other thing that's going to define Gaines Adams other than sacks and production."
Adams' destination isn't a total surprise. The Bears employ defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who, as head coach of the Lions, was enamored with Adams while the player was at Clemson and strongly considered drafting him. The Lions wound up picking receiver Calvin Johnson second overall.
The Bucs envisioned Adams filling the shoes of former pass-rush specialist Simeon Rice. But he had just six sacks as a rookie and 6½ last season. His lack of a diverse repertoire of pass-rush moves contributed to his struggles.
But a fresh start might do Adams some good. Coaches said often the past two seasons that he was pressing and putting too much pressure on himself to live up to his draft status.
The trade likely propels White into starting at right defensive end. White has shown flashes this season, leading the team with 11 quarterback pressures. The Bucs also acquired defensive end Michael Bennett this week and could see rookie fourth-round pick Kyle Moore make his debut Sunday.
White doesn't have a sack this season but has 13 in the past two full seasons, more than anyone on the roster.
The trade of Adams is yet another disappointing outcome for an early round Bucs draft pick. Receiver Michael Clayton, a 2004 first-rounder, has never come close to matching his rookie production. Alex Smith, a 2005 third-rounder, was dealt to New England this year for a fifth-round pick.
Arron Sears, a second-round pick in 2007, might not play again; he is expected to miss at least this season while dealing with personal issues. And 2008 second-round pick Dexter Jackson was released in the preseason after playing sparingly as a rookie.
There have been tough choices made, and the Bucs say they are willing to make others if necessary.
"It's all part of a plan with these younger players," Dominik said. "Giving them opportunity, evaluate where this football team is in 2009, see how competitive they are and how consistent they can become and continue to rebuild from there."
Staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.