After Tuesday's storm-shortened organized team activity, Bucs cornerback Phillip Buchanon discussed numerous topics with Pewter Report. At the forefront of the conversation, Buchanon indicated that his representatives are discussing a contract extension with the Buccaneers.
Buchanon is in the final year of his contract with Tampa Bay. He is scheduled to hit free agency next February. Sources have indicated to Pewter Report that the contract discussions are ongoing.
"Yeah, there are talks going on. Right now they're just talking," said Buchanon. "Right now I'm just playing football and doing what I do, but hopefully we'll get something done. I got one year left on the deal and I'm going to play it out, so hopefully we get something done cause I like being here in Tampa."
After extending fullback B.J. Askew last week, the Buccaneers have been attempting to retain some of their players for seasons to come. One player who has been in negotiations with the team is Jeff Garcia. The Pro Bowl veteran quarterback has been displeased with the pace of the contract talks, and expressed that to the media. Buchanon shared his view on handling his contact, and Garcia's potential new deal.
"Personally for me, if I was younger I would speak out," said Buchanon. "Now I'm more mature, and now I'm just one of those guys that feels that things will work out [with a new contract]. If it doesn't work out, well, it's a business. Sometimes things work out for the best and sometimes they don't. I'm just approaching this season as hopefully it's not my last, but on my deal it says it's my last. I'm going to go out there and give it my all, and play hard, and focus on the things I need to focus on because I only control so much.
"The whole thing with Jeff Garcia, I sure hope they come to a deal, because Jeff is definitely a good quarterback, hopefully they work it out. I'll just focus on me."
Last season, Buchanon started 13 games at left cornerback. He made 63 tackles with three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As a punt returner, Buchanon fielded 16 balls and averaged 3.4 yards per return. His longest return was 24 yards against Jacksonville on Oct. 28.
Entering 2008, Buchanon will have competition at the starting left cornerback position opposite Pro Bowl corner Ronde Barber.
Tampa Bay has many players competing at cornerback. The Bucs used their first-round pick on cornerback Aqib Talib, signed free agent Eugene Wilson, and re-signed Sammy Davis. In the 2007 NFL Draft, the Bucs selected cornerback Marcus Hamilton in the seventh round, who will also compete for a roster spot.
"It's definitely a big competition," said Buchanon. "I going to go out there and do what I do, and get better, and focus on the things that I can focus on. We got Talib, Eugene, Sammy Davis, we got a lot of guys out here working trying to make things happen."
Buchanon harbored no bitterness to the organization for drafting a player at his position. In fact, Buchanon was eager to help Talib with the transition to the NFL.
"I was pretty much aware that they were going to draft a corner, so I knew it," said Buchanon. "It wasn't a surprise to me it's a business, and the Bucs, they draft on what they need.
"I'm just going to take him in and embrace him. If he has any questions that he wants to ask me on film or anything. I was a first-rounder too, so I'll definitely be able to help him. At the same time I'm going to go out there and do what I do, and I have to play better than I did last year. That's what I'm focused on."
Buchanon entered the NFL as a first-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, 17th overall. Bucs general manager Bruce Allen was part of the Oakland front office that selected Buchanon. After three seasons with the Raiders, Buchanon was traded to the Houston Texans for second and third-round picks in the 2005 draft.
The Texans released Buchanon during the 2006 season, and he was signed by the Buccaneers in mid-October of that year. With Tampa Bay, Buchanon has turned his career around and has become a dependable starter. After experiencing some of the hardships of the NFL, Buchanon views the situation with the Bucs to be exceptional for young players like Talib and Hamilton. The organization has a legendary defensive coordinator in Monte Kiffin, and a highly regarded defensive backs coach in Raheem Morris.
"I personally think this is one of the better systems for a corner to come up in, to come up under Monte Kiffin and Raheem," said Buchanon. "When I was in Oakland it was more of me just being me and doing my thing. I made mistakes, but playing in Tampa, man, I won't even lie to you, these guys [Talib and Hamilton] are blessed to even come into this situation. I think the coaching here is just better. The quality of coaches is better. Just the other day I was talking to him and I said ‘Man Talib, you're in a good situation, just listen and learn, and do your thing.'"
For Buchanon, not only have the young cornerbacks come into a great organization, but the veterans have as well. Buchanon discussed one of the reasons why he enjoys the offseason workouts, and how Wilson is looking as a Buc.
"Eugene is looking good," said Buchanon. "He's still learning, so he's taking it day to day, so [Morris] is giving him a hard time, but Raheem is definitely one of those coaches that you like because he has personality, and he makes coming to work fun. That's one thing that I like about Raheem. It's rare that you get coaches like that. He makes it fun even during OTA days when some guys don't want to be here. For me its cool to come in, because I know Raheem is going to be here and we can talk and we can joke and we laugh and we have fun, so it's cool to me. Eugene is looking good, he's definitely looking good."
Coming off of a solid 2007, in his first full season with Tampa Bay, Buchanon indicated that he is looking to make a lot of splash plays for the Bucs in 2008. If Buchanon makes good on his goal, the team could possibly save some money by signing Buchanon to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent next February.
With returning starters Buchanon and Barber, and with the additions of Talib and Wilson, the Buccaneers look to be very strong at the cornerback position despite losing long-time starter Brian Kelly in free agency. In the weeks to come the Buccaneers may retain Buchanon with a long-term contract extension, and have him to pair with Talib to be a quick athletic cornerback tandem for years to come.
Want the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2008 offseason plans? Want to find out who the Bucs are targeting in free agency and the NFL Draft this year? Subscribe to PewterReport.com's Pewter Insider by clicking here.
WATCH Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds and Jim Flynn on select Sunday nights at 11:30 p.m. on Sports Zone with Al Keck and Tom Korun on ABC Action News in Tampa Bay for Bucs game highlights and the latest Bucs news. And for the best local coverage of Tampa Bay sports and Tampa Bay news, check out ABCActionNews.com.
LISTEN to Pewter Report's Jim Flynn each Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. on the Pewter Pulse with Dan Sileo on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal, and catch Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds each Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. on the PewterReport.com Buccaneer Blitz with Steve Duemig on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal.