Bucs right guard and soon-to-be free agent Davin Joseph said that he hopes to remain a Buccaneer. The sixth-year pro helped organized Tampa Bay's three-day mini-camp at IMG.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made it clear throughout the offseason that the team would like to re-sign veteran guard Davin Joseph. Although he has just five years in the league, the Bucs tendered him a high-value one-year contract in case the players need six years of experience to become unrestricted free agents. Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik also had some talks with Joseph’s agent prior to the NFL lockout about an extension.
Most projections of a new collective bargaining agreement have Joseph as an unrestricted free agent, and while he understands the NFL is a business Joseph's preference is to remain with Tampa Bay. Predicting whether he will actually be back is too hard for Joseph to estimate right now.
“Gosh, it is tough. If you ask me what I want to do versus what is going to happen it is two different scenarios,” said Joseph. “I want to stay. I want to stay, but I have to do what is best for me and my family. That is the hard part about free agency. You build something here. You love your coaches. You love the players. You love the community but at the end of the day it is a business, so it is a tough decision to make. Hopefully everything makes sense for me to stay here.”
Joseph assisted Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman in arranging the Bucs three-day player run and organized practice sessions. Even though Joseph is an impending free agent, he said it was an easy decision to help and participate because he could be around his teammates. Tampa Bay had just over 50 players at the first day of their mini-camp.
“I just made sure we could get my guys,” said Joseph of the offensive linemen. “I tried to make sure that we’re all here and not missing anybody. I think one guy maybe didn’t get the word. I really just tried to get my guys and anybody I ran into I tried to influence them to come. We had a phenomenal turnout today. I’m really pleased with how competitive it was.”
Tampa Bay selected Joseph with their first-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. In the second round of the same draft the Bucs drafted right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. The duo has been the Buccaneers regular starters on the right side of the offensive line for much of the past five seasons. Trueblood also projects to be entering unrestricted free agency. They are close friends and are hoping to continue to play together with the Buccaneers, or possibly another team if things don’t work out with Tampa Bay. Joseph struck an overall hopeful tone that the NFL lockout could be nearing a resolution.
“It is 100 days now into the lockout, and we’re still looking for a solution,” said Joseph. “We remain positive, though. I think we are going to get a deal done and be back playing football soon. We can’t let everybody around football down. It takes some negotiations and it takes some time. I believe we have the right men in the right places to get it done.”
Joseph played in 11 games last season. He broke his foot in the Bucs' Week 12 game at Baltimore, and as a result Tampa Bay placed Joseph on injured reserve.
Joseph broke into the starting lineup in 2006 as a rookie. His first three seasons were under former offensive line coach Bill Muir and head coach Jon Gruden. Some felt that Joseph was a better fit for the offense that he was drafted for, which was primarily a man-blocking, power scheme. After the 2008 season in which he played in 12 games, Joseph made the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
In 2009 and 2010, Joseph played for offensive line coach Pete Mangurian in primarily a zone-blocking scheme. After the season, the Bucs fired Mangurian and hired veteran offensive line coach Pat Morris. The 6-foot-3, 313-pound Joseph appears to be a good fit for Morris, who likes bigger and more powerful offensive linemen in a power man scheme. Joseph has the sound of player who would like to play for Morris.
“You start building something here. You start building something solid,” said Joseph. “You start building something that you’re confident in and it is hard to leave. At the end of the day it is a business. It is hard to leave a place you call home. You love the coaches. You love the players. You love the community. That is the hard part and the heartbreaking part of free agency in the NFL. It is a business, but you spend so much time here working, growing, experiencing different things and then you’re maybe saying goodbye. It is tough.
“The guys here, with me here or not, they are going to do well. You look at Donald Penn and the progress he’s made throughout his career. Josh Freeman and the jump he made last season. The young guys like Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount and it is positive vibes here.”
One negative thus far in Joseph’s career has been injuries. In 2008, he suffered a broken leg that caused him to miss the first four games of the season. The leg, in addition to his broken foot injury from last year, could hurt his market value in free agency. Joseph played and started 16 games in the 2007 and 2009 seasons. Right now Joseph is 100 percent healthy and hoping that he will be back in pewter and red in 2011.
“Hopefully everything makes sense with getting back here in Tampa, and bringing my buddy [Trueblood] back and making sure that things work out well for the team,” said Joseph. “And make sure everything is right going forward. After having such a great year last year, I would hate to make too many changes.”
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