Brett Favre is a New York Jet, not a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said that the team had "no negotiations" with Green Bay regarding acquiring Favre. And starting quarterback Jeff Garcia is expected to be cool with all of this, right?
So what do we make of all the Favre-to-Tampa hoopla, not to mention Allen's press conference on Thursday morning? Here is Pewter Report's analysis of what happened (and what didn't happen) in the Favre-to-Tampa saga.
IS THE LOSS OF FAVRE A BIG LOSS FOR THE BUCS? No. The failure to get Brett Favre is not a devastating blow to the organization. The facts suggest otherwise. With five quarterbacks, including a Pro Bowler in Jeff Garcia, in camp, Favre was clearly a "want" and not a "need" for Tampa Bay.
The Bucs players haven't been distracted by the Favre story at all. If any one has been distracted, it's been the media covering the Buccaneers and having to chase every new development and rumor.
Rest assured that Brett Favre was the furthest thing from the players' minds on the practice field at Disney's Wide World of Sports. To say otherwise would be foolish.
Perhaps the only player who could have been distracted by the Favre saga was Garcia, but he has only practiced for four days during this camp due to his late arrival from Gilroy, Calf. and a calf injury that has kept him out of action for the last six days.
Do you think Garcia is devastated now that Favre is not coming and his job as Tampa Bay's starting quarterback is finally secure? Absolutely not. He's got to be happy that the Favre watch is over in Tampa Bay. This is a win for Garcia, who is no longer a "dead man walking."
Would Favre have represented an upgrade in talent over Garcia and every other QB on the roster? Yes, which is why the Bucs were interested in Favre to begin with. He's a future Hall of Famer coming off a season in which he was the league MVP runner-up and one game away from his third Super Bowl appearance. He has a stronger arm than Garcia and has proven to be more durable. You can't fault the Bucs for wanting to upgrade their team. It's Allen's job to do that.
The real question I had regarding Favre possibly coming to Tampa Bay wasn't the fact that he couldn't learn the playbook quickly. Favre is a smart guy with a supreme understanding of the concepts of West Coast offense. Rather, it was the lack of on-field and off-field chemistry between Favre and the Buccaneers. Favre had never taken a snap from Jeff Faine. He didn't know where Michael Clayton likes to catch the ball on slants. Favre had never thrown a bomb downfield to Joey Galloway.
It would have taken time to get in rhythm with the receivers in this timing-based offense and to learn the protection schemes of the offensive linemen and where his throwing lanes are. The offensive linemen would have also had to learn how he sets up and where he likes to move within the pocket and how he typically moves outside of the pocket from a protection standpoint. Every quarterback is different.
Also, Favre ruled the Packers locker room for over a decade in Green Bay. Derrick Brooks rules Tampa Bay's locker room and has done so for over a decade. How would Favre have fit in to the locker room hierarchy with Brooks? How would he have fit in with the offensive players, especially given the fact that Garcia was a popular and well-respected guy in the locker room and in the huddle?
Perhaps these wouldn't have been issues. Maybe they would have been. The fact that Favre is a Jet makes it all moot point now. The reality is that Tampa Bay is still 0-0 heading into the season and may be avoiding a big distraction without Favre.
DO THE BUCS OWE GARCIA AN APOLOGY? What do the Bucs have to apologize for? Garcia had to understand why the Bucs were interested in Favre – even if he didn't like it. Sure, Garcia is unhappy with the fact that he didn't get a contract extension, and may be upset over the fact that he missed out on a $1 million bonus last year from a playing time incentive. But he's a professional and understands the business side of football – however unpleasant it may be at times.
The reality is that Garcia is a 38-year old quarterback who is fortunate to have a starting job. There weren't too many teams interested in him as a starter in 2007 when he was 37. He was offered a contract extension by the Buccaneers and turned it down, likely because it did not meet his financial demands, which are unknown. However, rumors put those demands in the $7 million per season range.
Garcia has not been given a contract extension or a raise thus far, and the Bucs may be willing to let him hit free agency in 2009 to see what the market will bear for a 39-year old quarterback.
Keep in mind that the Bucs were very aggressive in trading for Brian Griese at the start of free agency. Griese was acquired on March 3 from Chicago as an insurance policy for Garcia in case his play dips or he gets injured. In his first and only season in Tampa Bay in 2007, Garcia missed three starts due to a back injury and missed time in the Seattle game (concussion) and most of the Redskins game (back injury), too.
Tampa Bay remains high on Luke McCown, whose 91.7 QB rating last year was just a few points behind Garcia's 94.6 QB rating. McCown has been getting most of the starter's reps in training camp and will start the Bucs' preseason opener against Miami on Saturday.
Perhaps the Bucs will be ready to move on from Garcia after this season and go with McCown. Like Garcia, McCown is in a contract year and could be the most sought-after quarterback in free agency in 2009 due to his good statistics, strong arm and athletic ability, according to an NFL source. The Bucs will have to money to re-sign McCown as they currently are $27 million under the cap.
Should injuries once again plague Garcia or the play of the 38-year old veteran begins to slip, head coach Jon Gruden won't hesitate to go with a younger arm like McCown, whom he is very comfortable with. That's what happened in 2004 when Brad Johnson looked shaky at the start of the season. Gruden pulled Johnson in just the second game in favor of Chris Simms, who was inserted as the permanent starter over Johnson in Week 5 at New Orleans before Simms was lost to injury.
Sure, Garcia may have been in mental limbo for a while over the Favre situation and may not feel appreciated by the organization, but he has to realize that the Bucs' situation is a good one for him financially and because it presents the opportunity for a 38-year old QB to start under center. The fact that Favre is now a Jet should ease Garcia's mind. We know that Garcia said he was not afraid of competition, but even he had to realize that if the Bucs traded for Favre and acquired his $12 million base salary in 2008 that the politics of such a deal would ultimately place the former Green Bay legend in the starting quarterback role.
Still, the reality is that no matter how superior Favre's skills may be, Garcia – not Favre – gave the Bucs the best chance to win at New Orleans on opening day due to his experience in the offense and his chemistry with the offensive players. That Saints game may be the most important game on Tampa Bay's schedule in 2008.
Garcia needs to do what he's under contract to do in 2008 – be a professional and win games for the Buccaneers. If he has a fantastic year, he'll benefit greatly in 2009 in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. In lieu of an apology, perhaps the Bucs should just give Garcia a $1 million bonus this year to make up for him missing last year's playing time incentive, but that's assuming he'd even accept it.
PACKERS DECIDED WHERE FAVRE WAS GOING Despite published reports suggesting that Favre had the decision to play wherever he wanted to regarding Tampa Bay and New York, the real power belonged to Green Bay. Once Favre publicly stated that he was comfortable playing for either team, the Packers simply honed in on the team that offered the greatest compensation, which turned out to be the Jets.
Green Bay also lucked out when New York was willing to offer more than Tampa Bay because dealing Favre to the Jets would get him out of the NFC and into the AFC. It was a double win. The Packers played the Bucs in Tampa Bay in 2008, a game that the Green Bay organization had to be dreading if Favre wound up playing in red and pewter.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Favre was more partial to Tampa Bay over New York, but at the end of the day, Green Bay didn't care about his preference and made the best deal for its own team.
WHY DIDN'T ALLEN END THE SPECULATION? Allen's policy is that he does not confirm nor deny rumors and he has maintained that stance since his arrival in Tampa Bay. Allen believes it is not his job to correct the record. Instead, he believes it is up to the journalists to get the story right in the first place.
There may even be a side to Allen that derives some pleasure over the media being whipped into frenzied rumormongering in situations like the Favre circus.
The only time where Allen did refute a rumor was in last year's camp when it involved a false report about Simms' alleged proprioception condition. Allen wanted to debunk that report because it dealt with the player's health.
In Pewter Report's opinion, Allen should be more forthcoming with his answers in press conferences and should not avoid debunking false reports. But it's Allen's prerogative to handle the media the way he sees fit.
DRAFT PICKS ARE PRECIOUS TO TAMPA BAY Tampa Bay learned the hard way that giving up first-round draft picks can be costly when the team traded for head coach Jon Gruden in 2002. Sure, the Bucs made out on that gamble and won the Super Bowl, but the loss of two first- and two second-round picks to acquire Gruden really set the franchise back in the years following their first world championship.
As a result, neither the Glazers nor Allen are fond of parting ways with first-round picks. In fact, in dealing for a player, Allen has never surrendered anything higher than a sixth-round pick for a player on another team (see below – BUCS' TRADE ACQUISTIONS INVOLVING DRAFT PICKS UNDER ALLEN) and that practice has served him well in Tampa Bay. Quarterbacks Luke McCown and Brian Griese, running back Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Ryan Sims are all expected to play significant roles in the Bucs' 2008 season.
If the Buccaneers really wanted Favre they could have gotten him. All they would have had to do is better their offer – and we still don't know exactly what Tampa Bay offered Green Bay (Allen said the Bucs didn't even make an offer, which is hard to believe). A guaranteed first-round pick and a player the Packers wanted – supposing the Jets wouldn't have come close to that offer – likely would have gotten Green Bay over the fact that they would have had to play Favre in Tampa Bay in 2008.
Don't buy the fact that the Bucs weren't interested in Favre. They were. However, their interest wasn't so great that they were willing to part ways with anything other than a mid-round draft pick in order to acquire him. At the end of the day, that's all that matters.
The one thing to keep in mind is that all of the reports about draft pick compensation from Favre could have been made public – or made up – by Green Bay in an effort to drive up the asking price for Favre. Given the Bucs' stance of not publicly commenting on rumors, the Packers would have had free reign to float whatever they wanted to ESPN or any of the reporters following this story in an effort to create a supposed "bidding war" for Favre. If true, this could explain Allen's comments about the Bucs not having any compensation discussions with the Packers from this morning's press conference.
BUCS' TRADE ACQUISTIONS INVOLVING DRAFT PICKS UNDER ALLEN 2005 – April 24 Traded fifth-round pick (144th overall) obtained from San Diego to St. Louis for a fifth-round pick (155th overall, WR Larry Brackins) and a seventh-round pick (231st overall, S Hamza Abdullah).
2005 – April 24 Traded 2005 sixth-round pick (203rd overall) obtained from San Diego to Cleveland for QB Luke McCown.
2005 – October 18 Traded a 2006 sixth-round pick to the San Francisco for QB Tim Rattay.
2006 – August 31 Traded a 2007 sixth-round pick to the N.Y. Jets for TE Doug Jolley.
2007 – March 3 Traded a 2008 seventh-round pick to Denver for QB Jake Plummer
2007 – April 29 Traded a 2007 fourth-round pick (102nd overall) to Minnesota for fourth-round pick (106th overall, FS Tanard Jackson) and sixth-round picks (182nd overall, LB Adam Hayward).
2007 – May 1 Traded a 2009 seventh-round pick to Kansas City for DT Ryan Sims.
2007 – October 16 Traded a 2008 sixth-round pick to Kansas City for RB Michael Bennett and a return of 2009 seventh-round pick.
2008 – March 3 Traded a 2009 sixth-round pick to Chicago for QB Brian Griese and a 2009 seventh-round pick.
2008 – April 26 Traded 2008 second-round pick (52nd overall) to Jacksonville for 2008 second-round (58th overall, WR Dexter Jackson) and fifth-round picks (158th overall, pick later traded to Chicago) and 2009 seventh-round pick.
2008 – April 27 Traded 2008 fourth-round pick (120th overall) and fifth-round pick (158th overall) obtained from Jacksonville to Chicago for fourth-round (115th overall, DT Dre Moore) and sixth-round picks (175th overall, LB Geno Hayes).
2008 – April 27 Traded 2008 fifth-round pick (153rd overall) to New England for fifth-round pick (160th overall, QB Josh Johnson) and seventh-round pick (238th overall, RB Cory Boyd).
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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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