table of contents
- Secondary-Driven Defense Still Not A Finished Product
- Tampa Bay's Identity Is Now Offense - Not Defense
- Pewter Report Conversation: TE John Gilmore
- SR's Fab 5 - 1/21
- Pewter Report’s 2010 Buccaneers Season Awards
- The Glazers’ Approach Was Right After All
- Buccaneers' 2010 Season Grades
- Bucs' 2011 Draft Will Revolve Around Freeman
- In The Lab: MLB Tyrone McKenzie
- Pewter Prospect: OLB-DE Justin Houston
- Pewter Prospect: OL Mike Pouncey
NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora wrote a column called Moneyball, NFL style, which detailed the spending of committed cash for each franchise from 2004-08. With Tampa Bay fans already upset with the Glazers for their perceived “cheating” on the Buccaneers by acquiring the Manchester United soccer club with a debt at one point of 1.1 billion pounds instead of pouring all of their resources into the football team, seeing ownership spend the least amount of money during that time span angered fans even more.
The result was the lowest attendance in Raymond James Stadium history for a Buccaneers season with all of the home games blacked out in Tampa Bay for the first time in nearly two decades. Fan angst over the Glazers coupled with a ticket price – also propelled by ownership – in 2008 that drove fans away led to apathy towards the Buccaneers, especially after the least active offseason in recent memory with linebacker Jon Alston and safety Sean Jones being the only free agent signings and wide receiver Reggie Brown being the only player acquired via trade.
Yes, there was still interest in the team, evidenced by a record year of web traffic on PewterReport.com in 2010. But fans would rather read about the team and watch the games on pirated Internet feeds than pay hundreds of dollars in ticket prices, parking fees and high concession prices to actually go to the games – despite the fact that the Bucs had a winning record all season long after beating Cleveland in Week 1.
Yet through it all, the Glazers’ approach for this team, which was to dismantle an aging roster and rebuild through the draft while eschewing free agency for the most part – was right, even though it likely pushed some fans away. Bucs fans equated not spending in the offseason with not caring, even though spending money on a mostly underwhelming free agency was not part of the plan.
Fans may not want to believe this but the Glazers got tired of wasting millions in free agency on players like Todd Steussie, Derrick Deese, Charlie Garner, Angelo Crowell, Mike Nugent and Derrick Ward – none of whom helped the Bucs get to the playoffs. The Glazers’ approach, which was agreed to by general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris back in 2009, was to purge the team of overpaid older players with little to no upside and focus on the draft.
Through the years the Glazers had no problem building through the draft and then re-signing those star players, such as safety John Lynch, linebacker Derrick Brooks, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, cornerbacks Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber, and fullback Mike Alstott among others to lucrative extensions once they proved themselves. Once the Bucs became a consistent playoff-caliber team, the Glazers invested in some top-shelf free agents like quarterback Brad Johnson, defensive end Simeon Rice and wide receiver Keenan McCardell and okayed a trade that made wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson one of the highest-paid wide receivers in football.
With a core group of players like quarterback Josh Freeman, cornerback Aqib Talib, wide receivers Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, tight end Kellen Winslow, running back LeGarrette Blount, left tackle Donald Penn, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and others, the Bucs have their foundation for future success. In a year or two I have no doubt that the Glazers will sprinkle in some top-tier free agents if they don’t add one or more this year in an effort to get up to the salary cap floor that will undoubtedly be mandated by a new collective bargaining agreement.
“We’ve owned the team for 16 years and our stated philosophy was to build a team that was going to be good for the long haul – not a team that was one year good and one year bad,” said Buccaneers co-chair Bryan Glazer. “We sat down with Tony Dungy. It was his first year and our second year [as owners]. I remember the conversation. We were playing a young quarterback at the time in Trent Dilfer. We said, ‘Tony, we’re going to lose some games in order to win for the long term. You do what you need to do. He did that and built a team that was a winner for a long time. A couple of years after that we lost our way, and I take responsibility for that. But when we brought [Morris and Dominik] in, they understood the plan and what we want to do. We’re not going to put band-aids on and win one year and then go back to losing. We are starting to rebuild a team for the long term that will be a successful, Super Bowl winning team. It’s painful at times, but the ride is fun. That’s what we’re doing right now, and we’re going to do it together. I promise you.”
That’s what Glazer said at a Tampa Chamber of Commerce function this summer before the 10-6 finish this year. Turns out he and his family and the Bucs’ brass were right all along.
“We are excited about building a lasting contender for our fan base,” Glazer said. “We’ve done it before and we’re going to do it again. We have a commitment to you and we’re going to get there. I have nine more fingers that need rings. We’re going to get there one at a time.”
With the league’s top spending teams in 2010 – Washington and Dallas – failing to make the playoffs, expect more NFL teams to rely on good scouting and a more fiscally conservative approach to building teams. This approach was detailed in a recent article the Tampa Tribune’s Ira Kaufman, who received some great reaction to the Bucs' turnaround from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL owners.
It’s interesting to note that both Tampa Bay and Kansas City – the league’s least spenders last year – finished with 10-6 records and the Chiefs won the AFC West and hosted a playoff game.
Fans may note how cheap the Glazers appear to be by going with a team full rookies because they cost much less than seasoned veterans – with the exception of the contracts of Freeman and McCoy. But the current Buccaneers roster is laden with a lot of cheap talented players – and talent is the most important word to remember in this approach. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Looks like the Glazers’ approach wound up being right.