It was ten days ago that I wrote an article about how Dashon Goldson might be the perfect fit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. The post generated a good amount of discussion, but the scenario didn’t seem likely at the time. But as we entered this week and prepared for free agency, the rumor mill started churning.
The Bucs were reportedly interested in Goldson, and multiple other cornerbacks. They would fly Goldson in on a private jet, and wouldn’t let him leave without a contract. There were rumors of interest in several corners. So the Buccaneers’ offseason was starting off very well. Needs were being addressed, and good players were going to be added.
But a week later, as we evaluate the free agency period thus far, we see a team that has failed to make the moves most expected them to make. The Buccaneer front office focused on Dashon Goldson, and got their man. But the other obvious areas of need have gone mostly unaddressed, leaving the fan base frustrated and impatient.
So what have the Buccaneers done so far? They added Goldson, who will instantly bolster the pass defense by filling the role of deep safety, and allowing Mark Barron to play further up the field in a position which he is more qualified to play. This move alone makes the defensive back situation better in 2013.
Apart from Goldson, the Buccaneers have not put their massive salary cap to use. They have signed linebacker Jonathan Casillas from the Saints, who will be used to add depth to the linebacking corps. They’ve also added Tom Crabtree and Kevin Ogletree, who will both provide additional options on offense at tight end and wide receiver, respectively. But the losses seemingly outweigh the gains.
The Seattle Seahawks scooped up defensive end Michael Bennett for a cheap, low-risk one year contract for only five million dollars, and defensive tackle Roy Miller went across I-4 and up the east coast to Jacksonville. Two members of a defensive line that held down every running attack it faced are now out of town, and the players left to rely on are oft-injured Da’Quan Bowers and recovering injury victim Adrian Clayborn, along with newly Pro Bowl elected defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who also struggles with injuries from time to time.
So what is the summary of the week? How did the Buccaneers do?
The answer is that there is no summary of the week. There is no way to quantify what the Buccaneers have done so far. We could grade each incoming deal on its own, and evaluate how it impacts the team. (And we will). We could also talk about the players the Bucs have lost, and the impact their departures will have on the future. But less than a full week into the new league year, it is impossible to judge how the Buccaneers have done, because the process is not yet complete.
It is certainly frustrating to lose our leading sack-getter and biggest run stuffer. But is it frustrating to lose an undrafted free agent who gets the most sacks on a team that finishes near the bottom in the league in the category, and a defensive tackle who can’t rush the passer and found himself on the sidelines more often than the field in the closing weeks of the 2012 season?
It is frustrating to not sign the best free agent corner on the market who’s big, strong, and fits the Bucs system perfectly. But is it frustrating to miss out on a corner who conceded a ton of first downs and touchdowns, and is markedly inconsistent?
Every move the Buccaneers have made has two sides. And until the roster is more finalized, which means a full offseason and draft, it will be unclear whether certain moves are justified or misguided. As we pointed out earlier this week, it’s not always the team that “wins” free agency that goes on to win anything in the regular season or playoffs.
So while it’s not ideal to watch our favorite team sit on a pile of cash, there is a plan in place. And while it might seem like I trust in that plan, I am as anxious as anyone to see it unfold. Because this offseason is as important as any offseason in team history. With a young core in place, and a quarterback in a contract season, this is a year that will define the future of the Dominik/Schiano era. Or it might end the Dominik/Schiano era. Either way, the plan has to be executed before evaluations can be conducted. As of now, we must wait and watch.