Bucs general manager Mark Dominik defended Tampa Bay's frugal ways on Tuesday. Dominik explained that the Bucs would spend money on players the team wants around long-term. The Buccaneers were tied for last in the NFL in payroll earlier this month, and have spent the least of any team on players since 2004.
ORLANDO – Bucs general manager Mark Dominik met with the Tampa Bay media at the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando, Fla. Dominik answered a variety of questions covering many topics. One of the topics he discussed was the Buccaneers sitting out free agency, and the perception that the team is cheap.
"With 11 draft choices, with what we did in a youth movement last year and now adding to the foundation you have to look at each scenario as it is," Dominik said. "Right now when you look at free agency and the players available, it doesn't mean we are never going to spend or we aren't going to do something. That's not been instructed and that is not the direction of this franchise. Our ownership has shown a history of buying players. Simeon Rice was the highest paid defensive player in the National Football League."
Since 2004 the Buccaneers have spent the least on players than any team in the league. Tampa Bay was in salary cap hell for a few years from 2004-06, but has had plenty of salary cap room starting in 2007. The Bucs and the Kansas City Chiefs were tied for the lowest payroll in the league earlier this month at $79 million. The minimum payroll last year when there was a salary floor was $107 million. Dominik understood how the lack of money spent would cause fans and pundits to label the Bucs as going cheap.
"It is a fair statement but you have to apply what this player is going to bring," Dominik said. "What is the cost of it? What is it going to be in 2010? 2011? 2012? And going forward, and does that make financial sense from my perspective of what we want to do. That is how we weigh it, and that's how we look it."
Last year in free agency the Buccaneers signed a number of players including: quarterback Luke McCown, quarterback Byron Leftwich, wide receiver Michael Clayton, running back Derrick Ward, and kicker Mike Nugent. Those signings did not go well for Tampa Bay, but the Bucs traded for tight end Kellen Winslow and made him at the time the highest paid tight end in the league.
"This same team last year used a second-round pick to trade for Kellen Winslow," Dominik said. "We made him at the time the highest paid tight end. A lot of people questioned that. I understand that. Then he goes and catches 77 balls. Sets a franchise record for tight ends. I'm glad we did that deal because otherwise now we'd be sitting here with him in the final year of his deal. At the time we spent the money because we saw a long-term goal guy. A long-term plan guy. It was important to make sure he'd be here full-time. We spent the money on a player we wanted to have here for a long-time. We will continue to do that."
Winslow finished the season with 77 catches for 884 yards and five touchdowns. Winslow, 26, started all 16 games. Dominik referred to the past as evidence that the Buccaneers owners, the Glazers, have spent money on players.
"I would say look back at our history," Dominik said. "We've built the team that won the championship in 2002 the core, especially defensively, was draft picks. They were brought in together and developed together and that is why we had that run that really went form 1997 to 2003. They were 7-9 but it was a good football team that just had a couple of tough loses early on. That is a very long time. It is hard to do that but I saw how it was done and that is the direction we are headed.
"I'd say we aren't alone in this venture. Everybody wants to get better through the draft. Everybody is saying it is a great draft class. There have been a lot of teams that haven't signed free agents as well. Regardless of if they were a final eight team or not."
At the conclusion of these week's meetings, Dominik said the organization would unlikely be conducting interviews as they are on lock down preparing for the NFL Draft. Dominik said the team is still have talks aimed at re-signing free agent defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson and linebacker Angelo Crowell.
Dominik was asked if the Bucs sat out free agency because the Bucs 2010 rookie class is going to be starting next year.
“Yeah I’d say we didn’t abandon free agency," Dominik said. "We tempered that fact because we were focused on the 2010 draft. We weren’t going to be heavy players in free agency. We did that after looking at the pool of free agents, and what we are doing in Tampa in terms of now adding to our foundation from last year with the youth movement we went through last year and now it is building on that group of core guys. To me that is why the draft is so important. To get all those picks together. This whole foundation can keep moving forward. We are still actively looking in free agency but we are going to be smart about it. What is the players short-term and long-term potential for our club? It is an avenue we will look at pre-draft and post draft.”
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.