Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik made a brief, unscheduled appearance at the Pewter Report Get2Gether at Champps restaurant and sports bar at International Plaza on Saturday and held an informal question-and-answer session with the Bucs fans in attendance.
Dominik touched on a wide array of topics and disclosed that the team will in fact get a seventh-round pick for quarterback Luke McCown, who was traded to Jacksonville in August. At the time of the trade, the pick was conditional and undisclosed. It was thought to be a possible sixth-round pick by many media outlets, including PewterReport.com, but it turns out it that will indeed be a seventh-rounder.
McCown was in contention for the starting job last summer along with Byron Leftwich, but when Leftwich narrowly beat him in that preseason competition McCown was dealt because the future quarterback of the team was always going to be 2009 first-round pick Josh Freeman and McCown at least had some value on the trade market while Leftwich supposedly had none.
The Bucs will have three picks in the seventh-round – Jacksonville's (for McCown), Baltimore's (for DE Marques Douglas) and their own.
Tampa Bay's general manager also cited the need to improve the depth at weakside linebacker and find some more core special teams performers as the reason for signing linebacker Jon Alston on Friday. Many of the team's prior special teams aces, such as linebackers Geno Hayes and Quincy Black and wide receiver Maurice Stovall and running back Earnest Graham have seen their playing time increase significantly on defense and offense, respectively, so there was a big need to ensure that Tampa Bay's special teams units would stay strong by being fortified with the likes of Alston.
Dominik noted that the Eagles liked wide receiver Reggie Brown, whom Tampa Bay acquired in a trade last week, enough to sign him to a seven-year extension a couple years ago before injuries stalled his career, and Philadelphia found other playmakers in the draft in high-round picks DeSean Jackson (second round, 2008) and Jeremy Maclin (first round, 2009) that made Brown expendable. The Bucs expect Brown to compete for a starting job and Dominik said he may could emerge as the team's primary, secondary or third receiver on the depth chart depending on his performance.
The offensive line was also discussed at the Pewter Report Get2Gether and Dominik noted how left guard Arron Sears, who went AWOL last year for personal reasons while missing the 2009 campaign, is still working out regularly at One Buc Place to get back in shape and that should be viewed as a good sign. Tampa Bay plans on returning more to the power running game on offense next year with more pulling guard plays and Sears played a big role in that scheme as the team's starting left guard during his first two years in the league.
The strong safety position was also discussed and free agent Sean Jones, who visited Tampa Bay on Friday, is still in the picture. He is taking two more visits this week, including one to Tennessee, and will then decide where he wants to play. Sabby Piscitelli is still in the mix to be a starter, according to Dominik, but the team definitely would like to get a veteran to compete with him this year and either push Piscitelli to be better or push him aside.
Dominik also revealed that the team is still speaking with free agent linebacker Angelo Crowell and free agent defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson and that there is an interest in re-signing both players. Crowell is fully healed from his torn biceps and Dominik said that Wilkerson is ahead of schedule with his ACL rehab.
It appears that backup QB Josh Johnson is also in the teams plans for 2010 in more ways than one. Dominik hinted that the Bucs may be using some Wildcat offense with Johnson to make better use of his athletic ability and the team's entire 53-man roster.