TAMPA — Now that he is gone, you hope only the best for Gaines Adams.
You hope he finds himself in Chicago. You hope, one day, he finally taps into his potential. You hope a change of scenery does him good.
Mostly, you hope the Bears realize there is a no-refund policy in the NFL.
Holy smoke, the only thing crazier than giving up a first-round pick for Adams in 2007 is giving up a second-round pick for him in 2010. Obviously this trade does not make up for the disastrous decision to draft Adams, but it's not a bad stab at redemption.
Maybe the Bears fell in love with his body type. (Even if he plays as if he has less upper-body strength than my teenage daughter.) Maybe they saw a young player with plenty of room to grow. (Even if he seems to lack fire.) Maybe they're just desperate. (Even if the Bucs are more desperate.)
Whatever the reason, this is a good deal for the Bucs.
For no matter how much potential Adams might still possess — and he may one day turn into a serviceable pass rusher — he was never going to be a success in Tampa Bay. Not after all that has gone down in the past two-plus seasons.
Adams was pretty much doomed from the moment the Bucs took a reach and selected the defensive end with the No. 4 pick in 2007. He wasn't very strong. He didn't have a lot of passion. He had very few moves or skills as a pass rusher. In the end, his talent did not warrant such a high selection in the draft, and he was forever going to be held up to that unreachable standard as long as he wore a Tampa Bay uniform.
It was bad enough he had become a whipping boy for Bucs fans, but coach Raheem Morris turned the heat up even higher this season by continually calling out Adams. It was meant as motivation, but it had the opposite effect. Adams was on his way to his worst season as a pro. At times, he seemed virtually invisible on the field.
From that standpoint, the Bucs were fortunate to salvage something from the situation. And, for that, general manager Mark Dominik deserves credit.
The new coach and GM have made some questionable decisions in recent months, but you have to applaud their boldness. When they recognize a mistake, they are quick to fix it, no matter how high it registers on the embarrassing scale. And no matter how much closer it pushes them toward the league's worst record in their debut seasons.
Sure, it's a gamble to give up so quickly on a young player in which the franchise has invested heavily, but it meant the Bucs probably got a greater return than they might have three months from now.
In another lifetime, the Bucs held on too long to Eric Curry and Regan Upshaw and Keith McCants. All three were pass rushers picked near the top of the draft in the 1990s. They all were given a longer leash than Adams, and all turned out to be huge disappointments. And, in the end, the Bucs had absolutely nothing to show for those draft picks.
By moving Adams while he still had some value in the league, the Bucs will get one of the top 64 players in next year's draft. Dealing a No. 4 pick for a pick that will probably be somewhere in the 50s isn't a perfect formula, but you take what you can after screwing up the first time.
So, in retrospect, how bad was the Adams pick?
Not as bad as it looked a day ago.
John Romano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.