Jan 6, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith is introduced as head coach during a press conference at One Buccaneer Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
When Lovie Smith was appointed head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there were initial indications that his contract would include a clause providing him with “final say” over personnel decisions. Since that announcement, fans of the team have been lost as to what this means, and how it will translate into a better roster than the one put together under Mark Domink.
Today more fuel was added to that fire thanks to a report from Adam Caplan.
So what does it mean that Smith will have final say on the 53-man roster, but not the draft? Does that mean his “final say” literally only extends to cutdown day, and deciding on the final roster before the seasons begins? Or does he get to overrule on free agent and trade decisions, but the draft is excluded for whatever reason?
At this point, I’m not sure any of that matters. Lovie Smith is a coach who garners a lot of respect around the NFL, and for good reason. Players and coaches love to work with Lovie Smith, and the same will likely be true of a general manager. If Smith’s job is to have a final say, that will likely mean he just wants to be involved in personnel decisions and make sure the players being brought in and let go fit within his plans for the team.
Rather than the scenario under Mark Dominik, where he had two vastly different coaches with different styles, and seemed to get pushed around by Greg Schiano in his final year in charge, Smith will be actively involved in personnel decisions. He won’t be involved in the draft, because coaches don’t have the time to scout college players, but he’ll help out in deciding which current Bucs to keep, and which free agents best fit his perceived needs on the roster.
It’s easy to say giving Lovie contractual power just makes things complicated in the front office, but the fact that it’s Lovie Smith and not Greg Schiano means the relationship with the GM will be respectful and productive rather than controlling and authoritarian.
Is it possible that it’s a meaningless clause in Smith’s contract? Absolutely. Is it also possible that Smith could surprise me and run the team into the ground with poor personnel decisions? Maybe.
But with the few details we know, and considering the Lovie Smith’s personality, I suspect this is a way of putting on paper the kind of productive relationship he would have had with the new general manager anyways.