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January 3, 2014 @ 3:04 pm
Current rating: 3.00 Stars/2 Votes

SR's Fab 5 - 1-3

Written by Scott
Reynolds
New Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith
New Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith Getty Images
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Who will new Bucs coach Lovie Smith bring to Tampa Bay? Will the Bucs target some Bears free agents in March? Which Bucs unit was poised to be completely overhauled in 2014? Did Mark Dominik leave the Bucs in good salary cap shape? Why are the Bucs interested in KC director of player personnel Chris Ballard? Get the answers and more inside scoop on the Bucs in this edition of SR's Fab 5.
SR's Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:

FAB 1. THE HIRING OF SMITH BRINGS OPTIMISM, EXPECTATIONS TO TAMPA
Whenever a new coach is hired there is usually a lot of praise, hope and optimism thrown around in the media and in fan outlets like Internet message boards, social media and on sports talk radio. That’s true of the hiring of head coach Lovie Smith to succeed Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay. There is plenty of praise, hope and optimism for two reasons.

The first of which is because Smith is the genuine article and comes with ties to the Buccaneers’ glory days while he was on Tony Dungy’s staff as the linebackers coach from 1995-2000, and a proven track record outside of Tampa Bay by posting a winning record of 81-63 in Chicago. Smith took the Bears to the postseason three times, including a Super Bowl berth in 2006. In nine seasons in Chicago, the Bears only finished with double-digit losses once, and that was in his first season in 2004. Smith’s Bears had five winning seasons over the next eight years despite both injuries and a lack of stability at the quarterback position.

Former Bucs linebacker Jeff Gooch, who played for Smith in Tampa Bay and later interned with him in Chicago during training camp years later, spoke about Smith’s leadership style and said he will quickly be admired and respected by the Buccaneers players when they first meet him due to his credibility.

“I think it’s a credit to him, and just like Tony, he was always genuine from the day he came in there,” Gooch said. “Our first meeting wasn’t what you expected. It wasn’t an overpowering thing, he was just a genuine person, and you knew that he cared about you.

Gooch said that Smith put high expectations on everyone in the linebacker room, and used veterans like Hardy Nickerson and Lonnie Marts successfully in getting the rest of the players to quickly buy into the new defensive scheme that Dungy and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin were implementing in 1996.

“He did put expectations on you, and I believe that our veterans at the time, Lonnie and Hardy, accepted that they wanted those expectations placed on them,” Gooch said. “Lovie let them know that the expectations for them were high, and they were drawn to it. And not to go so much on to those two guys, but I say this all the time – both those two gentlemen Hardy and Lonnie – they were two perfect people for that transition. And I give both of those guys so much credit, especially Hardy. They were really like the wand in Coach Dungy and Coach Lovie’s hands. It was like they were orchestra leaders standing up there, waving the sticks and getting the rest of the band to play along. Hardy from Day One, that’s how he was, he was just like Lovie was, as far as being disciplined, and doing things, and Lonnie was, too. So when they came in they had pads, they had pencils. Then when we went to practice those guys really ran to the ball. They wanted to win so bad. They knew Lovie and Tony were going to be two people that could get them there.

“From that, as young players – myself, Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles, and Al Singleton and all those guys  – when we all came in, we saw Hardy doing these things the right way. So what Lovie did was use those expectations he would have for Hardy, and turn them around and say, ‘Look guys, look how Lonnie and Hardy are practicing. Look how hard they are preparing. Now I need more than that from you guys. You guys just got here. You’re young. You should be studying harder and you should have more energy than those guys.’ So we took that and ran with it.”

As you can see by Gooch’s account, the second reason for all of the praise, hope and optimism is because that’s Smith’s coaching style. He never uses fear as a motivational coaching tool. The laid back, Southern-speaking native of Big Sandy, Texas has the right amount of intensity without being passive or overbearing. That’s a quality and a personality trait Smith shares with Dungy, who is his mentor.

“The funny thing is that one of the similarities between him and Tony Dungy, is that I’ve never seen Lovie scream too loud,” Gooch said. “He would try to take it one octave up from Tony, but that’s about it. I’ve been talking to other people about this, how was he disciplined in that? It started from his expectations and what he allowed us to do even during the week, every single day, what time we came into the meeting, how were we sitting in the meeting? We had paper, pencils, pens, notebooks – everything. How were we dressed? There was constantly a high level on expectation and the fact that – I believe this was the secret of it all – that he, as a player or somebody that is trying to learn from somebody else, if you still look for that consistency, even though somebody might place their expectations on you, you look at them to see ‘Okay, are you consistent? You’re telling me to play at this level or be this way, let me see if you’re going to work as hard as you’re asking me to.’ And he would without a doubt. He’s a hard worker. I would say that it created a belief, and it created a want-to where you got to the point where you didn’t want to disappoint him – let alone be a disciplinary problem. That was part one of it.

“Part two of his whole style of discipline – and I think Tony was the exact same way with this – was that it was still no-nonsense. There were very few rules about things, but you knew that if you weren’t doing things the way that they wanted things done, no matter who you were, it didn’t matter how long it was going to take, you were not going to be a part of this whole Bucs Nation – this whole 53-man moving forward. Tony told us that early on, and Coach Lovie would reiterate those things, and that’s how you knew that it was not a joke, that it was serious. You knew that they were 100 percent serious about you not being there if you did not do things the way that they wanted you to do.”

The only fear that Smith’s players will have with him in charge is not to disappoint him. When that type of environment is created you have a true leader, which is what Smith is, and not just a boss – to steal the line from former Bucs employee Joe Bussell.

Smith brings instant credibility and expect him to put high expectations on his players and coach with praise, hope and optimism. And with the high degree of character in the locker room that former general manager Mark Dominik and Schiano help acquire over the past few years, expect the Buccaneers to rise to meet those expectations. When they do, plenty of wins will follow.

FAB 2. INTERESTING TIDBITS ABOUT SMITH AND THE BUCCANEERS
The Buccaneers made a big splash with hiring former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith on New Year’s Day. Here are some interesting tidbits about Smith that Bucs fans might find interesting.

• The Bucs just happen to play the NFC North division in 2013, which means that Smith will get the chance to visit Chicago once again and beat the team that fired him after a 10-6 season in 2012. Tampa Bay hosts Green Bay and Minnesota in 2014, and travels to play Chicago and Detroit. Smith obviously has some familiarity against NFC North personnel, but Detroit and Minnesota fired their respective coaches this offseason, which will mean new systems will be in place this year.

• The names of Rod Marinelli, Leslie Frazier and Lane Kiffin have been rumored as possibilities to join Smith’s staff in Tampa Bay. If that is the case, the Bucs could have as many as four men, including Smith, with prior head coaching experience in the NFL on staff.

• The Bears were so scared of losing quarterback Jay Cutler to Tampa Bay that they made a mad dash to sign him to a seven-year contract extension right after word broke that Smith was in negotiations to become the Bucs’ new head coach. Smith was part of the regime in Chicago that acquired Cutler in a trade with Denver. Because Smith is so well liked by his players, the Bears were afraid of Smith and Tampa Bay, which could use a quarterback to challenge Mike Glennon, putting on a full-court press to land him in free agency.

• The Bears have a slew of free agents the Bucs may target in March, and have already locked some of them up, signing guard Matt Slauson and cornerback Tim Jennings to four-year deals the same day they re-signed Cutler. Smith could target receiver-return specialist Devin Hester, defensive tackle Henry Melton, defensive end Corey Wooton and cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman. With the Bears recently signing Cutler, Jennings and Slauson, their salary cap room is dwindling and they won’t be able to keep all of their soon-to-be free agents.

• Despite the fact that Smith is known as a Tampa 2 disciple and a believer in zone-based defensive scheme, the Bucs won’t be an entirely Cover 2 defense under Smith. That’s a big misnomer, dispelled by former NFL safety Matt Bowen, who played under Smith in St. Louis in 2001, on Twitter the other day: @MattBowen41 “#Bucs will play much faster on D under Lovie Smith + they have the talent to produce...Look for Cover 1, 3, zone/man-pressure & 2-Deep.”

• In the modern day of the NFL with the advancement of so many offensive systems, the introduction of the spread offense over the years and more teams having their quarterbacks go to three-step drops, the Bucs will play plenty of man coverage under Smith, which will suit Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis just fine. Any rumors about Revis not being a good fit in Smith’s defense should be discounted and dismissed. Good coaches can make great players fit in any scheme, and great players can adapt to any scheme. Revis and Smith should be able to work just fine together.

FAB 3. BIG CHANGES WERE COMING TO TAMPA BAY’S OFFENSIVE LINE
Tampa Bay’s offensive line could be due for an overhaul in 2014. Once viewed as a potential strength due to the number of Pro Bowl berths the unit has produced in the past, the offensive line was actually a weak spot for the Buccaneers, especially during the final quarter of the season when the Bucs lost their final three games and struggled in both pass protection and run blocking.

PewterReport.com has learned that the previous regime of general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano was contemplating releasing left tackle Donald Penn, who gave up too many sacks at the age of 30 and is set to make $6.4 million in 2014, and move right tackle Demar Dotson to the left side. The 28-year old Dotson played left tackle during the 2010 offseason when Penn held out, in addition to the 2012 preseason when Penn suffered a calf injury. Dotson was Tampa Bay’s best and most consistent offensive lineman during the 2013 regular season, just as he was during training camp and the preseason.

The Bucs were also contemplating releasing Nicks, who has been paid over $19 million despite only being able to play in nine games over the past two years due to two toe surgeries and a MRSA infection. Releasing Nicks would free up $7 million, which is what his 2014 base salary would be.

At $6 million, the Bucs were prepared to make right guard Davin Joseph, whose play slipped noticeably while coming back from a serious knee injury that cost him the entire 2012 season, take a pay cut this offseason or risk being released. The team did that right before training camp two years ago with former right tackle Jeremy Trueblood, who took a $1 million pay cut from $6 million to $5 million for the chance to remain a Buccaneer.

The previous regime was not expected to re-sign reserve offensive linemen Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith, who are unrestricted free agents in 2014, which meant as many as five of the Buccaneers’ offensive linemen, including three starters, may not have returned next year.

Here’s a look at the current Buccaneers offensive linemen under contract and where they stand from a financial standpoint:

LT Donald Penn – Completed eighth year (turns 31 on April 27)
Penn signed a six-year, $41.7-million contract in 2010 that saw his first year’s salary of $4.5 million guaranteed, in addition to receiving a $2 million signing bonus that year. Penn made $7.2 million in base salary in 2011, followed by base salaries of $5.1 million in 2012 and $5 million in 2013. Penn’s 2014 salary of $6.4 rises at the wrong time as he is coming off an inconsistent year at age 30. Penn is due to make $6.5 million in 2015, which is the final year of his contract. If the Bucs release him this year, the team will have $666,666 worth of dead salary cap room. Penn has the chance to earn $1 million in workout ($400,000) and weight bonuses each year ($600,000).

LG Carl Nicks – Completed sixth year (turns 29 on May 14)
Nicks signed a five-year, $47.5-million contact in 2012 that included a base salary of $6.5 million and a roster bonus of $6 million. He was also given a restructure bonus of $11.785 million in 2012 to help the team free up some salary cap space in 2013 as his base salary was reduced to $715,000. Nicks is scheduled to make $7 million in base salary this season and $7.75 million in each of the last two seasons on his contract.

C Jeremy Zuttah  – Completed sixth year (turns 28 on June 1)
Zuttah signed a four-year, $16.3-million deal in 2012. The first two years of the contract totaled $7.5 million and were guaranteed. Zuttah has a base salary of $4 million in 2014 and a base salary of $4.25 million in 2015. Zuttah has been a versatile player for Tampa Bay, but has yet to develop into an upper echelon NFL center.

RG Davin Joseph – Completed eighth year (turns 31 on November 22)
Joseph signed a seven-year, $52.5 million contract in 2011 in which his first two years’ worth of salary, totaling $19 million, were guaranteed. Upon his return from missing the entire 2012 campaign due to a severe knee injury, Joseph made $6 million in 2013 and is scheduled to make $6 million in 2014 in a year in which he’ll turn 31. He has base salaries of $7 million due in 2015 and ’16 and $7.5 million due in 2017.

RT Demar Dotson – Completed fifth year (turns 29 on October 11)
Dotson’s agent did not do a very good job with his latest contract, as the Southern Mississippi product got robbed on a three-year, $6.5-million extension this past year in which he received $1 million roster bonus in 2013 in addition to a $2 million base salary in 2013. But Dotson’s base salary falls to $1.25 million in 2014, and rises slightly to $1.5 million in 2015 and $1.75 million in 2016. Dotson, who is the most talented offensive lineman, is a bargain for the Buccaneers.

OL Gabe Carimi – Completed third year (turns 26 on June 13)
The Bucs traded a sixth-round pick in 2014 to Chicago for Carimi, a former first-round pick. Tampa Bay inherited Carimi’s rookie contract. After making $1,016,458 in 2013, Carimi enters the final year of his contract with a $645,000 base salary, a $592,187 roster bonus and a workout bonus of $100,000 in 2014. The previous regime didn’t think too highly of Carimi, who struggled with his conditioning in the Florida heat, but he’ll get a fresh look from new head coach Lovie Smith, who helped draft him with the Bears in 2010.

The hiring of Smith and a new general manager puts the overhauling of Tampa Bay’s offensive line on hold for now, as every member of the Buccaneers will receive a clean slate and a new start. However, 2013 film will be evaluated by the new staff, in addition to director of player personnel Dennis Hickey and director of pro personnel Shelton Quarles, and the offensive line has to improve next year. The only way that might happen is with new personnel.

FAB 4. DOMINIK LEAVES THE BUCS WITH TALENT, GREAT CAP SITUATION
It pained former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik that this team had not been to the playoffs since losing to the New York Giants in a home wild card game in 2007. It pained him even more that Tampa Bay had not won a postseason game since Super Bowl XXXVII.

For 19 years, Dominik was a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Learning from Rich McKay, Tim Ruskell, Jerry Angelo and Ruston Webster – all of whom became general managers – since his arrival in Tampa in 1995, and gaining some much needed salary cap wisdom from former general manager Bruce Allen, Dominik was rising up the ranks on the pro personnel side of the organization and on his way to becoming the team’s general manager sooner than he thought.

Imagine just having your appendix burst on January 15 and a day later the Glazers contacting you in the hospital and saying, “We’ve fired Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen and we would like you to be our general manager. You have until the morning to decide.” Of course if Dominik didn’t choose to become the Bucs general manager he would likely be fired, too.

So he naturally took the position – and the immense challenge that came with it. Unfortunately for Dominik, he didn’t get to hire his own coach. The Glazers arranged a football marriage in 2009 that consisted of Dominik as G.M. and hot assistant coach Raheem Morris, who replaced Gruden.

The directive at the outset was daunting. Dominik was in charge of completely overhauling the roster. He had to tell the likes of linebacker Cato June, popular wide receivers Ike Hilliard and Joey Galloway, very popular running back Warrick Dunn and living legend Derrick Brooks, arguably the franchise’s best ever player, to hit the road, and that the team was undergoing a much needed youth movement.

With less than a month on the job, Dominik was immediately put into the unenviable position where he became public enemy number one with many Buccaneers fans by cutting a lot of fan favorites, most notably Brooks. The problem for Dominik was that he grew up in the organization and was part of drafting Dunn and acquiring the likes of Hilliard and trading for Galloway. He started with Tampa Bay in 1995, which was the same year Brooks became a Buccaneer.

The moves were the right ones, and in the best interest in the franchise, as every player that was cut was over the age of 30 and past their prime. Then Dominik had the unenviable task of working with the youngest roster in the NFL for three seasons from 2009-11.

Outside of trading for Kellen Winslow and making him the highest paid tight end in the NFL at the time in 2009, the Glazers didn’t open their checkbook much over the next three years outside of a couple of fateful re-signings and the failed acquisition of running back Derrick Ward, who was Dominik’s first free agent bust.

For three years the Glazers wanted to build through the draft and wait until those players developed before green-lighting any big spending in free agency. While time ticked, losses began to pile up on Dominik’s resume and Bucs fans grew more impatient with him, apathetic to the team and hateful towards the Glazers.

Dominik got his shot at drafting a franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman in the first round of 2009, and it looked like a good move early on. In fact it was too good to be true. Dominik, like the Glazers and most of us, bought in too hard to the team’s 10-6 record in 2010, and too much into Freeman’s promise after a season in which he threw 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

The Bucs had to use four fourth quarter comebacks to beat the likes of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Arizona and St. Louis that year to win 10 games. Instead of being primed to win and make a playoff run in 2011, the realization that the Bucs used smoke and mirrors to go 10-6 the previous year was fully realized after a 4-12 record that cost Morris his job.

If Dominik had a fault early on in his career it was trying to please the coaches too much – and thinking that the Bucs coaches at the time could properly evaluate talent. In 2009, respected wide receivers coach Richard Mann frantically begged and implored Dominik to re-sign wide receiver Michael Clayton. Mann said that Clayton, who played the flanker position, was a vital component to the passing game and the running game with his blocking ability. Dominik caved and not only re-signed Clayton he committed the cardinal sin of overpaying him.

In 2011 when linebackers Barrett Ruud and Quincy Black were both heading towards free agency, Morris, who was also the defensive coordinator, wanted both back. When Dominik said that wasn’t happening because Ruud was a shell of his former self, was losing step and getting beat up, while Black lacked instincts and intelligence, Morris became livid. Dominik finally relented and asked Morris to pick one and that he wasn’t going to re-sign both.

Morris chose Black, which was the more expensive decision because Black’s youth and athleticism were going to make him a more attractive commodity in free agency. Dominik gulped as he reluctantly signed Black to a five-year, $29-million contract with $11.5 million guaranteed. After a disappointing year and a half, Black suffered a career-ending neck and shoulder injury against San Diego in 2012 and was released this past offseason.

Also in 2011, offensive coordinator Greg Olson was adamant about re-signing right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. Dominik vetoed the move because of Trueblood’s declining skills and penchant for penalties, and that upset Olson. Dominik reconsidered though because the team didn’t have much talent at the right tackle position outside of the raw Demar Dotson, who was coming off a knee injury, and the contract of right guard Davin Joseph, who was close friends with Trueblood, was also up. Joseph had only been to the playoffs once in six years, and he was considering moving on to a playoff-ready team in free agency until Dominik told Joseph that he would re-sign his buddy Trueblood and make Joseph one of the highest paid guards in the NFL if he would stay in Tampa Bay.

Trueblood got a two-year deal worth $10 million, while Joseph cashed in on a seven-year, $52.5 million contract, and Dominik’s mission was accomplished. Dominik regretted signing Trueblood so much that on the eve of training camp in 2012 he went to the veteran right tackle and made the ballsy move of telling him to take a $1 million pay cut down to $5 million or that he would be released on the spot. Dominik saved the team $1 million, Trueblood relented and was beaten out by Dotson for the starting right tackle position three games into the 2012 campaign.

In 2013, Dominik listened too much to new wide receivers coach John Garrett, who raved about Dallas wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, whom he had recruited to and coached at the University of Virginia, as well as with the Cowboys. Dominik regretfully signed Ogletree in free agency and he was a bust, as many predicted, and released a few games into the regular season.

Dominik was fired for several reasons. First and foremost, he was 28-52 as the team’s general manager without any playoff appearances and four losing seasons during his five-year reign as general manager. Secondly, Dominik ultimately didn’t nail the Freeman pick and that set the franchise back in 2013 when it had to release the troubled quarterback. It wasn’t Dominik’s fault that Freeman’s personal life was in the downward spiral as the supposed franchise QB was making some bad decisions off the field that affected his on-field play, but that was his pick.

Third, outside of drafting McCoy with the first-round pick in 2010 and wide receiver Mike Williams with the fourth-round pick that same year, Dominik missed badly with a lot of premium draft picks from 2009-11 and that stunted the growth of the franchise. After cutting Freeman, not a single Bucs draft pick from 2009 remained on the roster. While McCoy and Williams were hits, wide receiver Arrelious Benn and defensive tackle Brian Price were both bad misses in the second round, as was cornerback Myron Lewis in the third round of 2010.

In 2011, the Bucs picked Adrian Clayborn, who has Erb’s Palsy that affects the strength in his right arm, instead of defensive end Cameron Jordan in the first round. Jordan went after Clayborn to New Orleans where he had 12.5 sacks this season and made the Pro Bowl. Dominik took a big gamble on defensive end Da’Quan Bowers in the second round and lost. Bowers was able to recover from offseason knee surgery, which caused his stock to drop to the second round, but he lacks passion for football, failed to win a starting job for the third straight year and looks nothing more than a backup defensive end.

Finally, Dominik also had a knack for leaving the Bucs maddeningly thin at a position or two each year. He left the Bucs too light at running back in 2011 and regrettably too thin at defensive end, tight end and wide receiver in 2013.

As time went on, Dominik learned from his past mistakes and became a better talent evaluator and made more promising acquisitions. He worked well with head coach Greg Schiano, whom he had a hand in hiring after Schiano wowed the Glazers in an interview after Morris’ firing.

Despite the fateful move of signing shady cornerback Eric Wright to a big contract, Dominik was able to lure Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson and Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks to Tampa Bay in free agency. And the Bucs may have had a draft for the ages in 2012 with the selection of strong safety Mark Barron and Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin in the first round, and then Dominik dealing up in the second round to select linebacker Lavonte David, the team’s most talented player.

Dominik pulled off a huge trade in 2013 by acquiring Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis from the Jets, and then signed Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson away from San Francisco. The Bucs then had another incredibly solid draft with the addition of several starters, including cornerback Johnthan Banks, quarterback Mike Glennon, nose tackle Akeem Spence, defensive end Will Gholston and running back Mike James.

Just when Dominik’s best talent acquisition work was looking like it was ready to pay off, he ran out of time as the losses unexpectedly mounted in 2013, beginning with a 0-8 start to a season once filled with high expectations. As Allen once told me when he was Tampa Bay’s G.M., there is a feeling of absolute helplessness that a general manager experiences when injuries mount during a season. Most of a general manager’s job is done in the offseason in terms of talent acquisition, and it’s rare to find an impact player on the streets in the middle of the season.

Dominik was fortunate to find free agent running back Bobby Rainey at midseason, and he gave the Bucs running game a boost when Martin and James were placed on injured reserve, but there just wasn’t enough ammunition left as Tampa Bay placed a league-high 16 players on I.R. in 2013. Injuries are never a general manager’s fault, but it didn’t help Dominik’s cause when Williams was placed on injured reserve with a torn hamstring with just 22 catches and two touchdowns after receiving a $7.2 million base salary and a $1 million roster bonus this season.

And the Glazers had to be disappointed by the fact that Nicks had been paid close to $20 million and only played in nine games over the past two seasons. Not to mention the fact that left tackle Donald Penn, who made $5 million in 2013, and right guard Davin Joseph, who made $6 million, underperformed. Add in the fact that Goldson underwhelmed in his first year in Tampa Bay despite making $8.735 million, and the Glazers probably weren’t too thrilled with their return on investment from several players in 2013.

Even after a 4-12 season, Dominik leaves the Buccaneers much better than they were in 2009 in his first season as G.M. following a 3-13 campaign. The team has some real talent on the roster and more than a handful of Pro Bowl-caliber players, which is a far cry from the first roster he presided over. Perhaps more importantly to the future of the franchise, Dominik learned from Rich McKay’s mistakes with the salary cap and learned the art of salary cap manipulation from Allen.

The next regime will have around $17 million worth of salary cap space, and almost every contract Dominik handled did not include signing bonuses, which can create dead salary cap dollars if a player is released and the rest of the signing bonus money prorates and hits the cap. Dominik’s style of paying out big base salaries and front-loading deals with a year or two’s worth of guaranteed money instead of signing bonuses is a trend-setting approach that is being mimicked across the league by some franchises, such as St. Louis.

Dominik’s approach to salary cap management kept the team out of the salary cap hell that McKay once put the Bucs in prior to his departure in 2003, and sets the Bucs up for a worry-free future from a salary cap perspective. Quite frankly, the next general manager would be wise to continue on this business practice and the Glazers should actually demand it because it works.

Dominik’s innovative salary cap management style is the seldom known and rarely talked about part of the legacy that he is leaving behind, but perhaps the most impactful as the franchise moves forward without him.

While he wasn’t popular with every Bucs fan, he cared deeply about the fans’ perspective, and was a frequent reader of the PewterReport.com message boards, where he would get the pulse of the fans. Some might bristle at that revelation, but as the team’s general manager he knew that the Bucs fans were the paying customers and it was his way of trying to perform some customer service.

Dominik truly cared about every aspect of Buccaneers from the players and coaches he worked with, to greeting the fans at training camp and making numerous public appearances, including several Pewter Report Get2gethers, to his work with the local military and adoption services.

Dominik also cared about the way the team was portrayed in the media, and that’s why he came down to the media workroom at One Buccaneer Place hours after he was fired on Monday and took the time to look each Bucs beat writer in the eye with tears welling up in his own eyes, shake their hand, and with a choked up voice, personally thank them for their reporting on the team before walking up to his office one last time to collect his personal belongings that were boxed up and leave One Buccaneer Place for the last time.

He didn’t do enough to get the Bucs to the playoffs or finish the job as he desperately wanted to, but thanks to Dominik, the cupboard is not bare for Smith and the new general manager, and the team is flush with salary cap room to operate with in 2013 and beyond.

FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:

• When former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said that Tampa Bay’s next head coach would inherit a great situation he wasn’t kidding. Former general manager Mark Dominik has acquired talent that will fit Lovie Smith’s defense like a glove. The two most important pieces to Smith’s version of the Tampa 2 defense are naturally the three-technique defensive tackle and the weakside linebacker. Thanks to some great drafting, the Bucs have a two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle in Gerald McCoy, whose game is approaching Warren Sapp’s level, the league’s best 4-3 weakside linebacker in Lavonte David, who is off to a hotter start to his career than Derrick Brooks, and a couple of John Lynch-like safeties in Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson.

The defense also has a version of former defensive ends Marcus Jones and Regan Upshaw in Will Gholston and Adrian Clayborn. Gholston has more upside and athleticism than Jones did, and Clayborn is already better than Upshaw. Akeem Spence has the chance to develop into a Brad Culpepper-type tilted nose tackle, and the Bucs also have a great cornerback tandem in Darrelle Revis and Johnthan Banks that could mimic the duo of Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly if Banks continues to develop.

New Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford needs a very intelligent quarterback, a big-play wide receiver that can go deep, a couple of short, quick, muscle-bound backs that can move the chains with their speed and power and catch the ball out of the backfield. Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and the trio of Doug Martin, Mike James and Bobby Rainey all happen to fit the bill perfectly.

• If the Buccaneers decide to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, keep an eye on Fresno State’s Derek Carr. New offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford was the Fresno State offensive coordinator when David Carr, Derek’s older brother, was the Bulldogs quarterback, and knows the Carr family well. With 5,082 yards, 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions this season, Carr became the most prolific passer in Fresno State history, and threw for 12,842 yards, 113 touchdowns and just 24 interceptions while completing close to 70 percent of his passes in his storied career.

Mobility isn’t as important as intelligence and read progression in Tedford’s system, which is why he had success with several non-scrambling quarterbacks like David Carr, Trent Dilfer, Joey Harrington and Aaron Rodgers among others. There will be faster quarterbacks available in the 2014 NFL Draft, such as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and possibly UCLA’s Brett Hundley. But a prolific passer like Carr would likely be the top choice for Tedford and the Buccaneers if the team was going for a quarterback with the seventh overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.

• In their search for a general manager, the Bucs are very interested in Kansas City director of player personnel Chris Ballard, who spent 12 years in Chicago from 2001-11 where he was the team’s Southwest area scout (11 years) and the Bears director of college scouting (2011) prior to being lured to Kansas City with a promotion. While in Chicago, Ballard became friends with new Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith, who had a nine-year stint with Chicago from 2004-12.

During his time with the Bears, Ballard was the team’s best scout, evidenced by how many players the team drafted from his territory and the quality of some of those players. Ballard was instrumental in finding Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman (second round, 2003) out of Louisiana-Lafeyette and Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte out of Tulane  (second round, 2008), in addition to mining the states of Oklahoma and Texas for Pro Bowlers like defensive tackle Tommie Harris, cornerback Nathan Vasher and wide receiver Johnny Knox.

From 2004-11 when Ballard and Smith, a native Texan, were on the same staff, Chicago drafted more players from the state of Texas than any other state, and more players from Oklahoma than any other school.

BEARS DRAFT PICKS FROM TEXAS SCHOOLS (2004-11)
2004 – Round 4 – CB Nathan Vasher – Texas
2005 – Round 1 – RB Cedric Benson – Texas
2006 – Round 2 – DB Danieal Manning – Abilene Christian
2009 – Round 4 – DE Henry Melton – Texas
2009 – Round 5 – WR Johnny Knox – Abilene Christian
2010 – Round 7 – OT J’Marcus Webb – West Texas A&M

BEARS DRAFT PICKS FROM OKLAHOMA (2004-11)
2004 – Round 1 – DT Tommie Harris
2005 – Round 2 – WR Mark Bradley
2006 – Round 3 – DT Dusty Dvoracek
2006 – Round 6 – FB J.D. Runnels
2009 – Round 3 – WR Juaquin Iglesias

• If Kansas City director of player personnel Chris Ballard lands in Tampa Bay as the team’s new general manager, don’t be surprised if former Bucs G.M. Mark Dominik tries to replace him. Dominik, a native of Lawrence, Kansas, went to the University of Kansas and got his NFL start working in the Chiefs scouting department.

It is believed that the families of both Dominik and his wife, Amy, still reside in Kansas, so that would be a great rebound location for Tampa Bay’s former head honcho. Dominik had some interest in the Chiefs general manager position when Kansas City fired Carl Peterson, but the Hunt family went with former New England general manager Scott Pioli instead. With Dominik the only NFL general manager fired as of yet, that potential vacancy in Kansas City may be the most intriguing and highest-ranking position available for him.

• Happy New Year, Buccaneers fans! Thanks for making 2013 a busy one for PewterReport.com, which grew in visitors last year despite a 4-12 record by the team. Now that the holidays are over, you might have some Christmas money you’ve received and need to plan for, or some Christmas bills you have to pay for. The good news is that PewterReport.com has a variety of Tampa-based partners that can help you.

Call Satya Shaw at the Shaw Tax Advisory Group for help with personnel accounting, business accounting, tax planning and retirement planning. He’ll help you make smart choices with your money for the coming year. Check out the services he offers by clicking here or calling his office at (813) 960-7429 and tell him that PewterReport.com sent you.

For wealth management and retirement investments, Harbor Light Securities and Investment Advisors can help. The stock market has had a nice run, but what’s next? Harbor Light’s CEO James Lockhart is a licensed and registered investment advisor and can help you manage and protect your retirement portfolio. Visit the Harbor Light website at HLSecurities.com or call James at (813) 345-2800 and be sure to mention PewterReport.com.

Unfortunately, the new year also brings some trouble with the IRS for some. If that applies to you, I have some good news. Gil Munoz, a long-time PewterReport.com partner, and Munoz and Co. are prepared to send you via mail a guide called “How To End IRS Problems” free of charge, and you won’t be solicited for tax and IRS help unless you request from the staff of Munoz and Co. You have nothing to lose, so click on this link and enter your name and address and receive a free tax and IRS help pamphlet. Munoz has a great reputation for helping clients and a great relationship with the IRS that can help you or your business eliminate costly penalties and reduce your financial obligation. If you would like more information other than the free pamphlet, you can call Gil Munoz at 1-888-856-1688 for a free consultation and him PewterReport.com sent you.

Last modified on Friday, 03 January 2014 17:42
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    I resubscribed because of this article. Well done, Scott.
  • avatar


    Spot on as usual, Scott. Your explanation on DOM explains my reasons for standing up for him while at he same time being one of the first to call for Schiano and Sherman to walk the plank. I predict that a smart franchise will pick up DOM and he will build them into an NFL powerhouse. I hope Tedford has watched in recent years and seen how poorly his not so mobile QBs have fared, such as with Kapernick's hundred yards on the ground by himself being the difference that beat his star QB who is woefully not mobile and a sack magnet. If Tedford makes that mistake with the Bucs, it will keep us from ever getting past the first round of the playoffs. He needs to pick QBs based on his spread experience with the Ducks!!! Mobile QBs dominate in the NFL now. Look at Seattle, San Francisco, and Charlotte. I predict right now one of those three will win the Superbowl this year and none of Tedford's brainy stick QBs.
  • avatar

    @Pinkstop+Dickens: Great reading your postings, seems like not everyone gets fooled and blinded. Scott is a hack and lost his credibility with this article. He is a (story)writer and this is not (good) journalism as there is so much misinformation and a trend in writing, which makes it obvious, that he wants to "brainwash" people = to make them feel informed, by writing believable BS (it just has to sound profesional).(1) Example "good cap management by Dom". Every PR reader could free up Cap - again its about team building. True would be "left the Bucs in good position for re-building". But that wouldn´t paint Dom in the right light i guess. Taking good care of cap would mean we have a high talent level here and still have the resources (cap and draft picks) to keep it up, at that certain level. Perfect example was shown by 49ers, letting go of overprized Goldson (letting morons overpay) and getting a good/cheaper replacement (Reid). Bucs don´t have the resources, nor the talent level - well good job Dom. And there are lots of examples like that, in this very article, in which Scotty describes Doms´ body of work for the better, than it realy was. Another is: It realy doesn´t matter who said anything to Dom, in the end, he signed Clayton and Black to contracts, that nobody with the slitest bit of knowledge, would have signed them to. Dom may have had an good eye for talent (like Shiano) but still was not worth the position by any means. It wasn´t called Shianomik Demon for no reason. Scott´s man crush for Dom is beyond any reason.. I guess its the same thing as this Vanilla pop-group, who sang "live" with playback. Its all about selling BS to the people. I would be ashamed of myself Scott. People spend hard earned dollars for that kind of BS. Thats why Americas economy is so bad. People just eating SSSSHHHH but don´t get IT. You reach a lot of people, but instead of educating them about AmericanFootball, you give a shhh. To few people who understand.. You are writting a bunch of lies-- I call you out liar. Tampa in better situation than before Dom was GM? C´mon. Every NFL team has few good players.. We all know how good of a measureal point "ProBowl"(ers) are. Don´t be freakin kidding us. Wasn´t our best player a ProBowler this year..? i see.. think, and this complete site stinks (Scott even is the "best" writer here). Scott - same as most of the GM´s out there, 2 possibilitys: Either he has no clue and no business writting for money about Football(IMO); or he knows exactly what he is doing and therefore is an a hole (these aren´t two articles)
  • avatar

    shame on you
  • avatar


    Thanks for the insight on Mark Dominik. I was pulling for him to stay on with Tampa. I think he has a bright future as a GM somewhere in the NFL, too bad he couldn't complete his maturation with the Bucs. Let's go 2014 Bucs with Tedford, Fraizer, and Lovie. Let's hope not to hear about "being close" and actually win games we should've be able to finish! No Schiano, that just makes me smile!
  • avatar


    Scott, this is why you are the leader in Tampa Bay Buccaneers news. The other "guy" has as much access as you but obviously your trusted more. Congrats on a great article.
  • avatar


    Great article Scott. Very informative. Let's hope this team is going in the right direction. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    You could be damn sure that Scott was going to take another opportunity to try and spin Dominik's job. The Bucs are actually in a worse cap situation than what he inherited when he offered Haynesworth $100 million. Dominik overpayed for all those free agents and that is going to come back to bite the Bucs in the years to come. His drafts sucked and that's why the team went 28-52. Mark Barron is overrated and Doug Martin already has injuries. He could be done in four years and then all that remains from that draft is David. Glennon is just a backup. Banks got picked on all year. Spence and Gholston would be backups on a good team. Reynolds loves to slurp off Dominik and you can bet he'll do it at every opportunity in the months/years to come. Reynolds bias for Dominik is endless.
  • avatar


    Mark Dominik will be missed more than any other GM we've had in the past. He is coming into his own and is finally starting to consistently find the right players and he will make some team better as a whole. Good Luck Mark and thanks for being a class act from start to finish!
  • avatar


    Wow... Great article, SR. Might be your best ever. Full of inside information and heart.
  • avatar


    Great article SR. I hope everything in Fab 3 comes to fruition. As for Fab 4, I don't know how anyone reads that and doesn't come away realizing Dominik deserved to be fired. He blew damn near all of his draft picks and FA signings...and the team's record sucked.
  • avatar


    Bones we had no tight ends period, Stocker can't catch and has never been healthy, yes this is clearly Doms fault . Banks may be a good corner in time but was abused this year and to go into a season with him being your # 2 corner against the likes of Jones, White, Gonzo in your own division twice a year is a Joke and gives you little if no chance ,this will get you fired, as I stated bEfore the season. L Johnson has some ball skills but was abused as was Banks down after down game after game.Going up against Bree's, Ryan ( with his weapons) and the fleet footed Newton you had better have a pass rush and three very good ends to rotate and account for injury, Dom thought he had a pass rush through his draft picks , he did not, this is his fault ,a tremendous miss calculation on his part.Add this together at 5 k per season ticket holder and when the ticket office report comes back that is negative you will get fired. Dom chose to do none of the above!! Several NFL talent evaluators echoed these same sentiments before the season , not just me !!! But everyone has different opinions and also drink different koolaid, I believe mine is backed by results and record.Let me know where you buy yours it sounds fun!!
  • avatar


    Well said, tbsteph2, and I totally agree with you. Thank you, Scott, for an excellent article.
  • avatar

    Great summary of Dominick's GM tenure. I wish him the best of luck.
  • avatar


    @Kino. Please 're-evaluate your facts. The only TE that stayed healthy was T Wright. The others broke like glass. Dom's fault? The Revis signing was for long term and agreed to by the owners. Every Bucs fan and Ray Charles saw that. J Banks was the best corner in the draft position we were allotted. Freeman's meltdown caught everyone in the NFL buy surprise. The kid was on par to land a big time money contract. The jury is still out on what happened there. Dom's decision to delay that renewal was swift damage control. I have heard a few blame situations that contributed to his release but more fans than none are scratching their heads about that decision. I admit to having had to read your post three times before disagreeing with most of what I could understand.
  • avatar


    Scott, one of the best and informative articles I've read...............thank-you
  • avatar


    Scott - I've read you for many years and never left a comment but this piece is more than deserving. The Dominik piece is the best and most informative article you've ever written IMHO. Dom had his flaws, but overall I think was on his way to being one of the leagues best. I was upset he was released and I truly feel that was the way wrong move. Classic Glazer over correction. Naive Bucs fans don't get it but he will be sorely missed. Thank you for allowing his side of the story be told.
  • avatar


    Buc-UP.... Agree 100% that Hickey has to go, have been saying that for years !
  • avatar


    My friend who works for the Bucs told me that both Morris and Schiano were responsible for setting the final rosters. Dominik signed the number and type of positions that the coaches wanted and after that it was their decision on who they kept. So their being thin at positions was their own doing. Hasn't PR previously reported that Dominik passed on DE's Abraham, Freeney, & etc.. because Schiano didn't want them because they weren't his type of players? Dom had his faults but the final roster wasn't it. His major fault was keeping his buddy Dennis Hickey around to evaluate college talent for the draft, which whoever the new GM is needs to correct immediately!
  • avatar


    Another well typed and informative Fab 5! I certainly agree it must be a nightmare for a GM to watch players go on IR he is responsible for drafting or trading for. Given the last two years it seems Mark had really turned the corner as far as the draft goes and his CAP work HAS left the team in a good position. Personally I think it's a shame he had to take the fall but the W-L record does speak for itself. Given what we know about Ballard the Bucs might have to hire a capologist to work with him. I believe the Bucs are a QB away from being highly successful and must take a chance on the draft with the first pick. I'd certainly keep Glennon as well. I don't know enough about Derek Carr to comment but Fresno State reference reminds me of the much demeaned Trent Dilfer! LOL I'd love to see the Bucs take a chance on Johnny Football myself, do whatever it takes to find the QB we thought we had in Freeman and have missed on for so many years. The draft is the ONLY way to get there these days and risks have to be taken. Again Scott, great job and I'm looking forward to another busy and exciting off-season including the day by day reporting from Pewter Report. Happy New Year!
  • avatar


    I have always thought the GM was the head man other than the owners. It seems these days the coach has more power than the GM. We have the same thing going on now, the coach gets to give the OK to hire what GM. When things go bad with drafts, trades etc. we blame the GM. This time what ever happens Lovie should get all the credit if things go well and all the BLAME if things go bad. Then on the other hand we say if things go bad on the field we say the GM did not choose the coach. This looks like a structure built so everyone can avoid blame and yet blame someone else. If all else fails we blame the owners. Sure this is not GOV'T controlled!
  • avatar


    Please help me understand, other than sometimes the GM and coach are looked at as a pair, why Dom was fired. To my limited knowledge Dom brought some pretty good talent to Tampa. He also managed the contracts very well with his forward looking contract negotiations. Did he chap somebody's rump? And if so, how? Was backing Morris and bringing Schiano in as HC the back to back indicators he was suffering from cranial rigor mortis?
  • avatar


    Bones Bones Bones !! Because he ignored and entire position ,TE ,made even worse with a struggling QB position who's greatest success as a pro had clearly been through this position( unfathomable), spent 18 mil on the cb position and after that 18 mil we fielded two corners that were regularly targeted and abused and had no chance what so ever of covering any TE in the NFC south when given the assignment , nor any teams one or two rec and for that matter there #3. Foolishly rolled the dice on a pass rush showing to much stubbornness and pride in his draft picks ,anybody with any knowledge of the Bucs knew this was a train wreck a cummin and was widely questioned but Dom thought he had the answers and was smarter than everyone else. Never got A true QB guru/ coach and Josh the professional help he needed. I think Josh was beyond repair but the fact is he was handled poorly and Dom was never present , never took the lead.All this personnel help was readily available at a high talent level and could have been had for the price of Revis who maybe played up to his standard two times all year.This is why Dom was fired and should have been fired.We may end up with a Cap mess with Ballard , I can only hope we end up with a cap guy as good as Dom, Dom did however deserve to be demoted or fired !!
  • avatar


    Very good Article Scott and I agree about the analysis on Dominik and his contributions here. Dominik if you are still reading Pewter Report; thank you as you left the Bucs in a better place.
  • avatar


    Mark did a great job with the cap but his philosophy of winning with star players caught up to him with other areas of great weakness!! I Am sure Mark has learned from his mistakes and will become more confident in his own skin with player personnel evaluation just as he was with contracts.Over the years when asked about a contract or a contractual theory Mark was very quick and precise in his answers ,when it came to players, coaching , positions etc, he rarely spoke with the same confidence.The days of two good corners and no TE are over in the NFL .A pass rush has always been vital to a defense and with all the passing in the league is even more vital as is 3 quality rushers not two De's anymore.I also think Mark tends to overlook injury / depth.Mark did a great job in most areas but the areas above caught up to him.If Mark has learned from his mistakes he may soon be one of the best Gm's in football the ? Is where? Mark ,Thanks and Good Luck !!
  • avatar


    "Unfortunately for Dominik, he didn’t get to hire his own coach. The Glazers arranged a football marriage in 2009 that consisted of Dominik as G.M. and hot assistant coach Raheem Morris, who replaced Gruden." I really don't know if I believe this statement. I have heard from other reputable media members that the promoting Raheem Morris to head coach was Dominick's idea. I would like to understand what your basis is for saying Dominick had no say in that matter.
  • avatar


    Melancholy, because they were both hired on the same day!!!
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