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May 8, 2013 @ 12:35 am
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/3 Votes

Bucs Have No Interest In Abraham Or Freeney

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Despite what is perceived as a lack of depth on the defensive line by some Bucs fans, PewterReport.com has learned that Tampa Bay has no interest in free agent pass rushers John Abraham or Dwight Freeney.
Since the departure of last year's leading sacker, defensive end Michael Bennett, who had a career-high nine QB captures before moving on to Seattle in 2013, some have suggested the Bucs look to bring in some veteran help to replace him. And while there are some attractive free agent names still available such as former Colts star Dwight Freeney and the Falcons' John Abraham, sources have told PewterReport.com that the Buccaneers will not be adding either to the roster.

First and foremost going into the decision is the dynamics of the locker room. Abraham would not be a great fit inside the Buccaneers locker room due to character concerns, evidenced by the fact that Atlanta doesn't want him back. Despite recording 10 sacks last season, and a recent report stating the Falcons are considering bringing him back, it is highly unlikely Abraham ends up back in Georgia. Atlanta replaced Abraham with former Giants standout Osi Umenyiora this offseason, and that should speak volumes. Add in the fact that Abraham has not had any serious offers coming close to matching his asking price – reportedly two-years for $10 million – shows that teams around the league have shunned the highly productive defensive end for a reason.

Tampa Bay’s management and coaching staff – and most NFL teams for that matter – put a ton of stock on how players fit into the organization. The old cliché “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel” is something Tampa Bay has taken to heart over the past two seasons. There has been a conscience effort to bring in not only talented football players, but also high-quality character players. Under head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, the duo have overseen two straight drafts consisting of several former college team captains. Players with questionable character, such as Kellen Winslow, Tanard Jackson, Brian Price and Aqib Talib, left a bad taste in the mouths of those inside the walls at One Buccaneer Place, along with a large segment of fans.

The concerns over Freeney are minor compared to Abraham, but management also has some questions about how the veteran would fit in with such a young locker room, and didn’t feel his production in 2012 (five sacks) warranted his asking price of $4-5 million per season.

And even if the Buccaneers, or any team in the league could overlook the unspecific issues, Abraham is closing in on 35, and Freeney is 33. Both are viewed as a situational pass rushers, most likely to just come off the bench on third downs. At $4-5 million per season, a player commanding that type of salary would be expected to be in the starting lineup. Paying a one-down player that much money is rare in the NFL, and is something the Buccaneers have no plans to start doing.

The fact that a Freeney or Abraham would be expected to start based on the salary and high profile of each player is also a factor in not signing one of the two. Tampa Bay is confident that Da’Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn can attain the same results – or even better numbers – than Freeney and Abraham. The organization views adding either player as a deterrent to the growth and development of Bowers and Clayborn, two players that the Buccaneers spent high draft picks on. Clayborn was a first-round pick in 2011 and Bowers was drafted in the second round of that year.

The final reason the Buccaneers aren’t interested in either Freeney or Abraham is the organization feels with Bowers and Clayborn, along with the addition of draft picks William Gholston and Steven Means and veteran Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, they have adequate depth at the defensive end position and the ability to get to the quarterback with their current roster of defensive linemen.

Defensive tackle Akeem Spence also factors into the equation to a degree, as Tampa Bay feels Spence will be an upgrade over Miller as far as getting pressure on the quarterback. While Spence may come off the field on some third-down passing situations, the fact is Drew Brees and Matt Ryan are just as likely to throw on first and second down as they will on third down. Tampa Bay believes Spence will develop into an excellent run-stuffing, space-eating player, but also one that can disrupt the quarterback – unlike Miller. The team expects Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to see fewer double teams in 2013, which should also help improve getting pressure on the quarterback.

There are still some that look at Tampa Bay's defensive line as a weakness and there is no question there is a lot to still prove an a bit of gamble to rely on mostly untested players. The Buccaneers will be keeping their fingers crossed that both Bowers and Clayborn will develop into the players they think they can be, and that Gholston and Means will also be able to contribute. While there is still a possibility that a veteran could be brought in before training camp, Bucs fans shouldn’t expect to see Freeney or Abraham in pewter and red this fall.
Last modified on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 08:05

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  • avatar

    Believe! Look at the improvement from 2011 to 2012. Schiano and staff will get the most from these players. They know the kind of player they are looking for. They understand player evaluation. Thank you Miller and Bennett for your contribution last year but they are not close to elite talent. Bowers, Clayborne, McCoy, Spence, Landri, Gholston, Te'o-Nesheim, and Means will be more than sufficient and be better than last year's group. I believe Schiano knows what he is doing and he and his staff will motivate these guys to greatness.
  • avatar

    Letting Miller/Bennett go, in additon with the 3rd round selection, left us thin(weak?) at D-line (which is worse than being thin at backup QB; what about win-now mode?). Still the season should be very fun to watch, because of the strong improved secondary(saving Dominicks job) and no matter what, the FO couldn´t fill all the holes by just this offseason (i agree with Horse, Bucs go around 8-8 with good upside).A season to look forward too, as last year, and next offseason will be the most important since a long time: Will Dominick get it done to fill the holes with just 2 high draft picks(as of right now), and/or will he be able to structure contracts in a way to get another key FA? Bucs aren´t in win now - but win 2014/15 mode. Why should have Dominick spend 1/3 of the high round picks of 2013/14 to get Revis, just to get "hopefully" to 10-6? Which takes us back to: how to save money>> don´t resign Freeman. Improve the rest of the team and if Glennon isn´t too bad, the Bucs should get into the playoffs, which would make Shiano look like a genius. Or they get Free cheaper. Or just hope we stay healthy and get there this year, hope because this team simply lacks the final touches. Or Godzilla comes to town and there won´t be a season at all. Go Bucs.
  • avatar

    I definitely agree with not bringing them in if they want 4-5 mil per season. No team will give them that. Once training camp rolls along and these guys realize their only shot to stay in the NFL is by taking a veteran minimum and being a backup, I would hope the Bucs could have some interest. Clayborn and Bowers definitely deserve to start and will start, but we have no depth, and those two guys have both had injury problems already in their young careers. And don't try to call Stephen Means and Teo-Neisham depth, Means is a developmental project, and Neisham is just a below average d end, very replaceable.
  • avatar

    WOW !! 4 mil for Freeney is the best money the bucs could spend in the off season.Remember we are paying 16 mil for Revis . So Freeney won't have a 4mil improvement and impact on our D ? R U NUTS ? He will have 7 - 10 sacks this year if he plays 50 to 60 percent of snaps in his old position.Clayborn doesn't even come close to being able to supply the pressure Freeney can and I am not so sure his knee healed the best? Remember you have to pay his back up so his hit isn't 4 mil more.His impact for next year would be Huge ask Brees and Ryan I will assure you they would be very concerned and now they are not. Bowers may surprise and I think he will, but we think Spence is gonna be better than Doms third round pick with several years of NFL experience ( Miller), boy I hope so ??? I think this defense has improved but to ignore major available upgrades for a year and think rookie late round draft picks are gonna be an improvement( this year) is just silly water . Really did someone actually say Freeney isn't a huge upgrade for this defense? Well there isn't many ex Buc def players alive that would agree ? Hope we are injury free so this at least has a chance but recent history tells you that is just not gonna happen, we may start well but do we have enough exp. depth at RT,LT,DT RBand DE ? Most are still avail for a year or two and well within our cap.DO ya wanna win 8 or 14 I say more than eight!!!
  • avatar

    The Bucs keep saying we like what we have and I think we fans have to face the fact that we got what we got and hope for the best. I wanted Dumerville anyway...not these old guys so much. That being said it still seems that DE has no quality depth. Rookies are not quality depth, they are at best short term band-aids that will fall off quickly, if the starters are out for an extended period. I hope we stay healthy.
  • avatar

    Quite frankly Chetthevette I had forgotten about Watson. He is better than Hayward overall. My main concern is in the red zone. We had the #1 run defense last year but we were ranked in the middle of the league in giving up rushing TD's. That's where a lot of those 12 snaps per game where we use a SLB that Sneedy16 alluded to occur...near the end zone. Watson is athletic and good in coverage and spying, but those thin calf muscles don't allow him to hold up against the run as well as I'd like.
  • avatar

    I was hard on Dom for most of the offseason - his strategy was not the one I would have employed, BUT, having seen it play out now I give him credit for a) having a strategy from the start of FA; b) in what can only be considered a minor miracle, managing to improve our secondary from league worst to one of the top 2, and c) while time will tell whether Revis honors his end of the 6-yr deal, I give Dom credit for negotiating a very flexible deal. Big kudos to Dom for those moves. I would still have preferred us going into the season with Bennett on the roster - I'm a little worried about the injury history of our DL, and I'm not sold on Means or Gholston (sorry fans but 31 teams passed repeatedly on these guys for a reason) - but Freeney and Abraham are not the answer either....glad to hear Dom is not interested....as I said this time last year the NFC South (like all divisions) will be determined by two factors: Injuries and Turnovers. If we can avoid the injury bug (it has bitten us hard the last few years) and Freeman can bring down those t/os, this should be our year....ATL has to get some injuries one of these years (Grimes being their first in several years)....GO BUCS!
  • avatar

    Geno Atkins was passed over multiple times too and look at him now. One of the best DT in football.
  • avatar

    I agree with not picking up these older guys. My concern was where we drafted for picking up DL. If we get by this year with minor injuries then there is no need to bring this up later. Lets all hope for an injury free season. I do feel like we are a solid 8-8 team and with some luck we can be a 10-6 team which will put us in the Play Offs.
  • avatar

    Knowing that Abraham is a locker room problem I definitely agree we shouldnt sign him under any circumstances. Dwight Freeney's price tag will come down unless he plans on sitting out this year and for about 2 mill on a 1 year deal Freeney would be a bargain. Moving Bowers inside on 3rd downs and rushing Clay, Freeney, Bowers and McCoy would be ideal even if Spence has more "push" than Miller. As far as SLB they must like Casillas, Heyward and Goode battling it out in camp for that job, not sure I agree but after getting Revis/Goldston its probably a luxury we cant afford to upgrade at this point.
  • avatar

    Great article Mark. I give the Bucs brass the nod here. I too can rationalize bringing in either player but the organizations has its reasons and for what it is worth, I support their decision and their vision to the future of the team. A good team with high character guys is something to be proud of.
  • avatar

    It appears that it is just not in the Buc DNA to hire older accomplished D-Line players on one year contracts. Belichick does this all the time and usually successfully, like Andre Carter, and now Tommy Kelly. John Abraham or Dwight Freeney, if used on a rotational basis still has something left in the tank. What valuable experience would Clayborn get if he could learn From Freeney how to spin off of a block? With the mindset that Abraham has now toward the Dixie Chicks, he would pay money to get his hands on Matt Ryan. This is useless rhetoric on my part to bring this up because they seem diametrically opposed to such moves. We’re spending an awful lot of money on Revis to win now. It’s just my opinion, but we’re putting a lot of faith and trust in a couple of rookie potential starters and two key defensive linemen coming off injuries when we could spend a few dollars more and buy some insurance!
  • avatar

    They only player who is coming off injury is Clayborn. Dwight moves and technique can be taught by the defensive line coach. To hire him for 4-5 million to hit the field 12 times a game and coach is pretty expensive.
  • avatar

    Our depth is even worse at LB and I don't hear anyone complaining. Also, we still don't have a SLB that I'm satisfied with. As for the guys in this article if Bowers or Clayborn go down with an injury before the season starts I'm sure we'll sign Freeney. We may even sign him during the season if we're in the playoff hunt and one of our starters at DE goes down.
  • avatar

    There's depth at SLB. Besides, Schiano plays so much nickel and dime that the third LB isn't on the field as often as the other two. Do you think it should have been addressed in the draft?
  • avatar

    hey pink, are you forgetting dakota? I really believe he would kick b**t in alot of situations. go bucs
  • avatar

    The SLB last year only played on average 12 snaps a game, and the 3rd CB played majority of the game. I think that's the reasoning why they didn't invest much into that position.
  • avatar

    it also makes since not to sign them, because any money not spent this year can be rolled over to next year and be used to keep key players who are up for new contracts.
  • avatar

    There's a great interview with Steven Means on Buccaneers.com, it's 7 minutes long, with good video of rookie camp. Mark's point of the locker room is right on. Bringing in a veteran would stunt the growth of our future stars. After watching the interview these are Schiano guys who love football, and want to be Buccaneer men.
  • avatar

    If Freeney comes down on his asking price after waiting too long, Dominik would be foolish not to pounce. Dominik may like what we have at DE but I think most of the fanbase would agree we could stand to add a little more depth, especially if that consists of a perennial Pro Bowler at a bargain price. Agree that Abraham is not worth the trouble, though.
  • avatar

    Should be interesting. Thanks MC!
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