It’s early, we’re less than 24 hours into the free agency period as of penning this article, but already the Buccaneers have made several major splashes in free agency and there could potentially be more moves coming. So far, 19 hours in, the Buccaneers have answered the biggest question on fans minds heading into the offseason: will they spend?
In less than a day the Bucs have dropped roughly 140 million dollars on three players that will immediately make an impact on the field. That’s a lot of money. Not all of it’s guaranteed but, it’s still a boat-load.
In Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks the Buccaneers get two top-flight free agents that wanted big contracts, but also have a track record of getting big results.
Jackson is a big, long, fast receiver who can stretch the field and absolutely demands the attention of a defense. Just by virtue of his addition, the Buccaneers receiving corps becomes a legitimate unit. Mike Williams should enjoy the newfound lack of attention from defensive secondaries. Preston Parker becomes a very good player in the slot. The tight ends will have more room. The box can no longer be loaded.
Josh Freeman is the happiest guy in Tampa right now (and somewhere Raheem Morris is fuming).
Freeman gets a legitimate offensive weapon and the top offensive lineman on the market to protect him and open up holes for his back. Carl Nicks is a stud, he’s played on good teams on good lines, he’s start 61 of 64 career games and he comes in with a Super Bowl pedigree. With Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah and Davin Joseph up front, this offensive line looks very formidable.
Then there’s Eric Wright, who is solid but probably was overpaid. This was a contract dictated more by the market than by the ability of the player. Don’t take that as a knock to Wright, but I’m sure to a man Mark Dominik will tell you he paid Eric Wright what he was hoping would have lured Courtland Finnegan. The run on corners (Carlos Rogers, Finnegan) trumped up the price and the Bucs had to pay.
Fortunately, Mark Dominik is showing some savvy, according to ESPN’s Andrew Brandt (notable for his legal pedigree and front office experience in Green Bay) the Bucs are front loading contracts, filling up their 2012 space and giving themselves flexibility for the future.
That means if anyone doesn’t pan out it won’t hurt that much to cut them down the road.
That’s a smart move.
Now the Bucs aren’t tethered to any dead-weight for salary cap reasons. That’s the fastest way to tank a team is tie up cap space down the road and then have injuries or other factors cause a player to bust. It happens a lot and it almost never ends well.
So far the Bucs have been playing the free agency game brilliantly. It’s way too early to give grades or accurately assess, but at first blush, Mark Dominik has been very sharp.