TAMPA — Taking your time to hire a head coach is one way to alienate a fan base. One way to get them back into the thick of things is to not waste your time in free agency and make a big signing.
That’s what the Glazer’s and Mark Dominik need to do in order to — in a way — right the wrong of wasting almost an entire month searching for a coach. They don’t need to spend money until 2013 to meet league requirements but they need to spend this offseason to meet the standards of their fans.
Tampa currently has 12 unrestricted free agents they need to decide what to do with.
Tampa Bay also has expiring contracts on LeGarette Blount, Preston Parker, and Micheal Bennett. The Bucs have exclusive rights on Blount and Parker and Bennett is a restricted free agent.
As far as guys that need to be re-signed, the Buccaneers need to give a at least a one year deal to Jeremy Zuttah and given his history with Greg Schiano, he’s almost guaranteed to get a new deal. Tampa also needs to seriously consider bringing back Josh Johnson who can continue to serve as Josh Freeman’s back up. But given the unabashed love that the NFL has with the backup quarterback — and an athletic one at that — Johnson might demand more money then he’s worth in Tampa. With Schiano taking over and a new scheme being implemented, adding a new backup is an option in the cards since Johnson isn’t detrimental to continuity.
The lack of depth at the corner position may be the Glazer’s excuse to stay in-house with the secondary as much as they can and re-sign Elbert Mack and possibly Ronde Barber. The trouble with Barber is the last time we saw a full scale shift in personnel, all the veterans got cut except for Barber. The Glazer’s showed then that even if you gave your sweat and blood to this franchise they way Derrick Brooks did, no one is safe from the chopping block. Barber knows this and also knows that is he heads up to Washington not only will he be re-united with Raheem Morris — a guy who he has a lot of respect for — but Daniel Snyder has made his name giving over the hill veterans massive paychecks.
There is also the case of Albert Haynesworth and what to do with him. Bringing him back would cost the Bucs $7.2 million as he’s still under contract.
Obviously the Bucs will retain LeGarrette Blount as he’s going to be the every down back of the future in Tampa. Preston Parker also deserves a new deal after the season he had as Freeman’s slot receiver. Parker also has value as a return man which would then make Michael Spurlock totally disposable. If Parker gets a deal instead of Spurlock, he at least owes the guy a fancy steak dinner for getting injured and thus allowing Parker to step up.
As for the rest of the list, just about everyone is expendable. Geno Hayes has some value with his age and perhaps James Lee can get a new deal just because the Bucs are so weak on the offensive front. But beyond a short list of guys it looks like the Bucs can let these guys walk and not be at all damaged for the future.
In fact leaping half these guys would be damaging for the future.
It’s safe to say that after Greg Schiano hires his staff, he will have his work cut out with Mark Dominik and the Glazers when it comes to crafting a championship contender.