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In this week’s Bucs Shots, Pewter Report editor-in-chief Jim Flynn sounds off on message board poster Simms2Clayton05’s take on Buccaneers cornerback Brian Kelly’s contract situation and his decision to participate in this week’s voluntary organized team activities.

Kelly Shows Up At OTAs – Posted On May 23, 2007 by Simms2Clayton05
I'm glad Buccaneers cornerback Brian Kelly is not holding out. He wouldn’t be smart to do that because he has seen what happens when you hold out. Look what happened to Keenan McCardell in 2004, and I think he and Kelly might have the same agents too.

Kelly is right that the media tries to make big deals out of these holdouts and contract disagreements. I think sometimes the media gets to the player’s head and can make them upset about something that they shouldn’t be upset about, in this case, the new contract.

He is being smart in that if he makes it a problem to the media then they are going to blow it out of proportion and make things worse than they are. Kelly saw Ronde Barber get a contract extension with a year left on his deal. Hopefully Brian Kelly is thinking that if he plays well that he can get an extension as well.

Jim Flynn’s response to Simms2Clayton05’s post
You make some great points, Simms2Clayton05. Brian Kelly has made it no secret that he’s unhappy with his current contract, but I do applaud his decision to participate in last week’s organized team activities, which were voluntary, and downplay his displeasure with his contract to the media.

Yes, Ronde Barber did receive a long-term, lucrative contract from the Buccaneers last year, but don’t expect Kelly to receive a new deal in 2007. Remember, Barber, a three-time Pro Bowler, had one year remaining on his deal, and Bucs general manager Bruce Allen hasn’t made a habit of giving players new deals when they have more than one year remaining on them.

Former Bucs wide receiver Keenan McCardell demanded a new contract from Tampa Bay in 2004 when he had two years remaining on it. He even held out of training camp, preseason and part of the regular season before eventually being traded to San Diego and losing a $1 million grievance to the Bucs.

That was Allen’s first year with the Bucs, and he made it known that holdouts would not be tolerated in Tampa Bay, or at least not on his watch. Had Allen given in to McCardell’s demands, he would have had several players, including Barber, Kelly, Dwight Smith and others, lined up outside the door right behind McCardell.

I’m not really sure why some in the local media speculated that Kelly was going to hold out for a new deal when he didn’t show up for the first few OTAs, which were voluntary. Kelly, who lives out West, has missed some OTAs for the past several offseasons.

Although the Bucs defense has missed his presence on the field when he’s been sidelined for any length of time, Kelly is coming of season ending toe surgery, which doesn’t suggest he has a lot of leverage to hold out right now.

One could make the argument that Kelly is underpaid, but you could also make the argument that his salary is just about right. It all depends on how you look at the situation.

League-wise, Kelly’s current contract numbers would suggest he might indeed be underpaid. But it’s not necessarily the Bucs' fault that some other teams have been a bit irresponsible in terms of the contracts they’ve handed out to free agent cornerbacks in recent years. Atlanta overpaid Jason Webster a few years ago with an $18 million contract that included a $7 million signing bonus. And although Nate Clements is a Pro Bowl-caliber player, it will be hard for him to live up to the $80 million contract he recently received from the San Francisco 49ers, which was complete with $22 million in guaranteed money.

It’s also important to note that it wouldn’t be fair of Kelly to hold Tampa Bay’s current regime responsible for his current contract. Kelly did, after all, sign a seven-year deal in 2001, which was before Allen and head coach Jon Gruden even arrived in Tampa Bay.

Kelly currently ranks seventh on Tampa Bay’s roster in terms of the money he’ll earn in 2007. Kelly, who received a $1 million roster bonus in March, is scheduled to earn $3.6 million, which certainly isn’t chump change. It’s also more than linebacker Derrick Brooks, who is a 10-time Pro Bowler.

Here is a list of Top 10 players on Tampa Bay’s roster in terms of the compensation they will receive from the Bucs in 2007:

1. DE Simeon Rice – $7.25 million
 
2. CB Ronde Barber – $5.9 million

3. QB Jake Plummer – $5.3 million*

4. DL Kevin Carter – $5.2 million
 
5. DT Chris Hovan – $4.5 million

6. DL Ellis Wyms – $3.9 million
 
7. CB Brian Kelly – $3.6 million
 
8. LB Derrick Brooks – $3 million

9. WR Joey Galloway – $3 million

10. DE Greg Spires – $3 million

(*only if Plummer reports to training camp)

Although he is currently ranked seventh on this list, Kelly would move into the top five should Plummer not report to training camp and Wyms be released or traded, both of which are possibilities.  

In 2008, which is scheduled to be the final year of Kelly’s contract, he will earn a base salary of $3.2 million and receive a $1 million roster bonus in March, giving him a total of $4.2 million in earnings.

Kelly, who not been voted to a Pro Bowl during his nine-year career, will need to stay healthy and play at a Pro Bowl-caliber level in 2007 if he hopes to receive a new deal in 2008. That formula worked well for Barber in 2005 and is why he landed a new contract during training camp of the 2006 season.

The Bucs have Kelly in a real predicament due to the fact that his contract has two years remaining on it, which means he would turn 33 before he would hit the free agent market in March of 2009. There just aren’t a lot of teams that are going to give Kelly the contract he feels he deserves at that stage in his career.

In hindsight, Kelly's agent should have made the last two years voidable or simply made the contract shorter. If Kelly would have signed a five-year deal back in 2001, he would have been a free agent this offseason and may have been the next in line behind Clements for a sizeable pay day.

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