Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik addressed the local media about the team's plans regarding free agency, which involves re-signing Tampa Bay players more than signing other team's free agents.
Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik surprised a few members of the media Wednesday morning when he sat down for an impromptu, state of the team question-and-answer session before the afternoon practice.
Asked about the overall impressions of his young team and dealing with the chatter from some Bucs fans that feel he hasn’t taken advantage of a deep and talented group of free agents, Dominik was candid with his answers.
“I think the entire organization has been extremely excited about the new members that we have brought onto this football team whether we drafted them, or claimed them, or signed them,” Dominik said. “I think they have brought a lot of energy and juice into the organization. “
Putting a foundation in place and sticking to a game plan is something Dominik said was important to him personally, but also to the organization. Tampa Bay’s general manager talked about how his pieces of the puzzle are beginning to reap rewards.
“Obviously, 2009 was important because of Josh Freeman, and the foundation of the entire football team,” Dominik said. “2010, as we talked about prior to the draft, through the draft and all through the season, we wanted to take advantage of that class and those young guys stepped up and played valuable time on the field. They were productive and really set a new tone in our locker room for who we were [and] in terms of who we are.”
Dominik has taken some criticism for not spending money on high-profile free agents this offseason, but said his goal and plan has been to build through the draft and take care of re-signing players that the Buccaneers selected and have developed.
Looking at the sheer amount of money Tampa Bay has committed to re-signing its own players, the team has spent over $100 million dollars in free agency on the contracts for Joseph (seven years, $53 million), linebacker Quincy Black (five years, $29 million) and punter Michael Koenen (six years, $19 million), in addition to deals for right tackle Jeremy Trueblood (two years, undisclosed), linebacker Adam Hayward (three years, undisclosed) and others, according to a league source.
“Guys like Freeman and Gerald McCoy are what we want to be,” Dominik said. “And as people continue to see them grow, along with their respective classes, there are going to be hopeful we re-sign most guys to long-term deals.”
The 132-day NFL lockout changed little in the Buccaneers’ approach to free agency.
“I still think we would have stayed with our own plan, and re-signed our own guys,” Dominik said. “I don’t think a lot would have changed from our perspective. We still wanted Davin Joseph prior to the draft and post-draft. Obviously, you can’t predict who will be at [number] 20 [in the draft]. You have to look at that a little different.”
All practice, preseason, and regular season games are filmed, and the coaches and Buccaneers management spend hours reviewing the film, looking for the little details that might make a player standout. Dominik explained how the process of evaluation takes shape behind closed doors at One Buc Place.
“Every decision we make is based off of tape at the end of the day at the end of the day,” Dominik said. “That’s how we do everything. We step back, watch the tape again, and evaluate our players and what they are doing. And so when you get done you can say, ‘Hey, we really like how we use Quincy Black. I really see him as an up-and-coming player and being more productive, and is a guy I don’t want to really lose.’”
While the PewterReport.com message boards and sports talk radio audience have been mixed in their reviews of how the team has spent money, Dominik has had a lot of good feedback when interacting with the fans on the street and at training camp.
“I hear from fans that talk to me and they are really excited about what we are doing,” Dominik. “For the most part, I think our fans understand the plan and get it. We want to get that core together, and keep the core. Our goal is to keep as much of that core together, understanding we have to bring in the right players in the draft. Those guys have got to come in and be productive players for us, and over the last couple years they have been. And in 2011 it is going to have to be the same. Those players will have to step up and be productive players for us.”
The youth movement surrounding the current group of Buccaneers is obvious, but even as the second-youngest team in the league last season, Tampa Bay still notched 10 wins and just barely missed out on the playoffs. Dominik sees this as some validation for the path he has taken in running the organization.
“I’m more proud of what our football team did, and what our coaches did,” Dominik said. “So if anything, it makes me more and more confident that we are doing it our way, and knowing we can play with young guys. Again, a couple of years ago, the Packers were one of the youngest team in the league, and they’re still one of the younger teams in the league. So it’s not like you can’t be young and can’t win.
“I’d just like to think about where we are from two years ago. That’s really the way I look at it, and I’m really excited about what we changed in two years, and what we are hopefully going to be able to do in 2011. There is no way to forecast that until we get there. But the bottom line as I look at our own football team in our own eggshell, in our own box, and say, ‘How do we look?’ And I feel a lot better than I did two years ago.”
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.