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Trying to decipher GM speak

There is much to learn from a question and non-answer session such as last week's news conference with Bucs general manager Bruce Allen.

Aside from falling on the sword for a couple obvious personnel decisions _ Todd Steussie and Martin Gramatica _ Allen was non-committal on just about every aspect of the Bucs' offseason.

He did confirm that Tampa Bay is projected at about $14-million over the salary cap, establishing the degree of difficulty for turning around a team that has lost 20 of 32 since winning the Super Bowl.

"I'm not trying to be evasive," Allen said at one point.

Oh, of course not.

Look, nobody expects the Bucs to fork over their priority list of free agents and draft board. But a little perspective might be helpful to fans deciding whether to renew those season tickets.

At the risk of putting words in Allen's mouth, we might be able to fill in the blanks.

Regarding whether Brian Griese's turnovers can be attributed to other players.

What Allen said: "It's harder to find someone who can complete 69 percent of his passes than to correct somebody's five or six misjudges in a season."

What Allen might mean: Darn right, if the guy didn't have to chuck it 40 times a game and had a running back that held onto the ball, we'd be in the playoffs.

Regarding the possible release of Bucs icons such as Mike Alstott and Joe Jurevicius.

What Allen said: "If the players want to stay here, they'll stay here. That's never been a problem."

What Allen might mean: John Lynch wanted to stay and we told him he couldn't pass a physical. Warren Sapp wanted to stay and we never made him an offer. Put your No. 40 Bucs jerseys behind glass, they're collectors items.

Regarding the Glazers' possible uneasiness with losing.

What Allen said: "No. They don't like losing. But they're more looking for ways to improve. How do we get better?"

What Allen might mean: Jon Gruden and I better turn this sucker around in '05 or we're both looking for work.

Regarding whether the Bucs might consider releasing Brad Johnson before March 1.

What Allen said: "I've talked to Brad. I don't know if you've done that. I don't know what you have that you say he doesn't have a future (with the Bucs)," Allen said. "All those discussions will really heat up in February and in March." Is it inevitable? "At this point, I wouldn't say that."

What Allen might mean: You think we're actually going to let him eat $8-million on the salary cap? No. But it'd be nice if Griese's agent thought so.

Regarding whether secondary coach Mike Tomlin will return next season.

What Allen said: "With these coaching changes in the league, I think he's happy to be here. He wants to be here. But there could be some golden opportunities, maybe coordinator, head coach? I don't know. I don't want to predict what other people would do. But it's something we will address fairly soon."

What Allen might mean: Tomlin is probably ticked we didn't let him interview for a coordinator's job and wants to bolt.

Regarding the new training facility that is not under construction.

What Allen said: "Everybody knows that this needs improvement. That's a bad word. I don't think we need another trailer."

What Allen might mean: I hope they give my grandchildren a tour one day when the thing is completed.

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