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Here are some random thoughts on five topics regarding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 2008 NFL Draft approaches.

IS SIMMS WISE TO SKIP VOLUNTARY WORKOUTS?
At first glance, Bucs quarterback Chris Simms' decision to skip voluntary workouts due to his belief that he does not have a future in Tampa Bay appears to be a questionable one at best.

In addition to Simms, the Bucs have five other quarterbacks – Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown, Bruce Gradkowski and Jake Plummer – on their offseason roster.

Simms, who turns 28 in August, hasn't thrown a football in a regular season game in nearly two years, and even before he suffered the unfortunate spleen injury the 2003 third-round draft pick hadn't played well, throwing one touchdown and nine interceptions in his last four starts, all of which were losses for Tampa Bay.

Even with Plummer retired, Simms appears to be on the outside looking in, especially since has has decided to skip voluntary workouts and organized team activities in hopes of being traded or released.

Some believe Simms is making a mistake by skipping voluntary workouts, but he might actually be wise for doing so.

Both Simms and the Bucs believe he is 100 percent healthy and ready to go, but the fact of the matter is the last time the public saw Simms throw the football, which was in training camp, he looked awful, and very few people have seen him throw since.

That might be the way Simms wants it, especially if he's hoping to be traded. The Bucs would be hard pressed to get anything in return for Simms if he came out on the football field and reports surfaced that he still was struggling to throw the football.

Not only that, but such an occurrence could potentially derail or even end Simms' career as teams could be hesitant to sign him if he isn't able to throw the football properly nearly two years after the injury occurred.

By having Simms and the Bucs state that Simms is healthy again, a team could take a chance on Simms by sending a sixth- or seventh-round draft pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for his services.

That might sound crazy given the uncertainty surrounding Simms' health, his long layoff and his poor play before he even sustained the injury back in Sept. of 2006.

However, Bucs general manager Bruce Allen has pulled off surprising trades for the team before, trading disgruntled wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson to Dallas in exchange for WR Joey Galloway, and sending underachieving defensive tackle Booger McFarland to Indianapolis for a second-round draft pick.

A sixth- or seventh-round draft pick might not sound too appealing to some teams, but it could be to the Bucs since they do not have a pick in either round this year.

This is also not a good draft class for quarterbacks, so a team might be willing to roll the dice on Simms and give the Bucs a trade offer they can't refuse.

Simms likely would prefer to be traded as opposed to being released since the team that acquires him would inherit the final year of his contract, which calls for him to be paid a $2 million base salary in 2008. That's a salary Simms probably would earn regardless of performance since his new team would have a draft pick(s) invested in him.

So after further review Simms might actually be wise to skip voluntary workouts, and his decision could benefit both he and the Buccaneers as early as draft weekend on April 26-27.

WHAT SHOULD BE MADE OF GRAHAM'S ABSENCE?
It certainly was noteworthy that Tampa Bay running back Earnest Graham elected to not participate in the Bucs' first three organized team activities of the offseason last week.

Graham, who rushed for 898 yards (4.0 avg.) and 10 touchdowns in place of injured running backs Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman, is in the final year of his contract that is scheduled to pay him just $605,000 in 2008.

While he stated that he missed the first set of OTAs due to a family vacation, some have speculated that Graham could hold out in an effort to help his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, accelerate the negotiation of a long-term, lucrative deal with the Bucs.

However, Pewter Report has learned that Graham, a 2003 undrafted free agent, has rarely participated in offseason workouts in previous years, opting to work out on his own instead.

Not only that, but Graham told Pewter Report publisher Scott Reynolds in an interview last season that he had no intention of holding out for a new contract.

"I would never hold out – I never would, "Graham told Pewter Report in November. "That's an absolute no-no for me. That's out of the question. You are just looking for you are worth. I know I can't go in there and negotiate what I'm worth. You can't cheat anybody in this game. Nobody is going to pay for something that you're not doing. I'm just trying to get what I'm worth, and everybody feels like [Drew] is the guy who will get that. That's the reason I went with Drew."

Contract negotiations between the Bucs and Rosenhaus are ongoing, so it will be interesting to see if Graham lives up to his comments from last November if a deal isn't finished by May, which is when Tampa Bay's next set of voluntary organized team activities will be held.

Although he probably does deserve to be paid more, Graham would not be smart to hold out for a new contract, and there are several reasons why.

The Bucs already have Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett under contract, and head coach Jon Gruden is itching to showcase Dunn's versatility and Bennett's speed in his offense. The Bucs are also high on fullback B.J. Askew, who has reliable hands as a receiver and is a solid blocker.

Gruden was impressed with what Graham did in 2007, but he wouldn't hesitate to move on without him if Graham elected to hold out, which would mean missing valuable playing time in the offseason and training camp.

Even if Graham opted to report to duty late, there's a chance Gruden will have already moved on without him, opting to have Dunn, Bennett and Askew carry the load instead.

That scenario could put Graham in a real predicament since he will turn 29 in January and is scheduled to hit the open market in February.

If Graham isn't the featured running back in Gruden's offense this year there might not be a lot of teams interested in signing him for the money he's looking for right now. As impressive as he was in 2007, Graham still only has 10 career starts at running back, so some would question whether he's a one-year wonder or a long-term solution.

If the Bucs get any kind of indication that Graham is going to hold out for a new deal they could re-sign Pittman, who still is on the open market, or even draft a running back, the latter of which is a more likely scenario.

Cadillac Williams' future is in doubt due to the torn patellar tendon he suffered last year. Dunn is 33 and Bennett and Graham will be 29 by next year, which is not considered young in NFL running back years.

That said, there's a strong chance Tampa Bay will invest one of its five draft picks in a running back this year, and possibly as early as the first round.

Should that happen it could dictate what the Bucs are willing to invest in Graham in 2008 and beyond.

BUCS SHOULD AVOID WR CALDWELL
Tampa Bay likely will select a wide receiver in the 2008 NFL Draft, and several players are on the Buccaneers' radar, including Florida's Andre Caldwell.

The Buccaneers met with Caldwell's agent at Tampa Airport Marriot on Tuesday evening, and Caldwell visited with the Buccaneers on Thursday.

Each team is allowed to have 30 players make pre-draft visits, but Caldwell doesn't count against that number since he attended high school in the Bay Area and is considered a local product.

Caldwell, who is the younger brother of NFL WR Reche Caldwell, caught the eye of NFL scouts and general managers when he ran a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash time at the Combine in February.

Tampa Bay is in the market for a speedy receiver, and Caldwell certainly fits that description. However, the Buccaneers need to steer clear of him for several reasons.

While he helped the Gators win a national championship in 2006, Caldwell wasn't that productive at Florida. His career-high for receptions (56 for 761 yards and seven TDs) came in his senior year, and he only had five 100-yard games during his collegiate career.

Even if they genuinely like Caldwell, the Bucs can't ignore the Florida Gator receivers' scary track record in the NFL.

Take a look at the last 10 Florida Gator wide receivers to be taken on the first day of the NFL Draft. Odds are you haven't been impressed by what most of these players have done at the pro level.

Chad Jackson – New England (2006 second-round pick)
Taylor Jacobs – Washington (2003 second-round pick)
Jabar Gaffney – Houston (2002 second-round pick)
Reche Caldwell – Washington (2002 second-round pick)
Travis Taylor – Baltimore (2000 first-round pick
Darrell Jackson – Seattle (2000 third-round pick)
Travis McGriff – Denver (1999 third-round pick)
Jacquez Green – Tampa Bay (1998 second-round pick)
Ike Hilliard – New York Giants (1997 first-round pick)
Reidel Anthony – Tampa Bay – (1997 first-round pick)

With the exception of Darrell Jackson and Hilliard, Florida wide receivers just haven't lived up to expectations in the NFL over the last decade.

The Buccaneers know this all too well as they've been burnt by two of those players – Green and Anthony.

The Gators have produced several great NFL players, including Emmitt Smith, but given the program's success one would think they would have produced more success stories than the school actually has in recent years.

Tampa Bay hasn't had much luck with Florida Gator players, period.

In addition to Anthony and Green, the Bucs invested a first- and second-round draft pick in tackle Kenyatta Walker in 2001, and he's currently out of the league.

Running back Errict Rhett entered the NFL with the Bucs in 1994 as a second-round pick, but an unsuccessful holdout led him out of Tampa Bay and his career was over after the 2000 season.

Tampa Bay also struck out on offensive lineman Jason Odom, who joined the Bucs as a fourth-round pick out of Florida in 1994.

As many failures as Florida has produced for Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers have a productive player in Earnest Graham and might actually have two of the best players to ever play for the Gators and make a significant impacts in the NFL in Hilliard and defensive end Kevin Carter.

However, Hilliard and Carter have been the exceptions, not the norm, which is one of the main reasons why the Bucs should steer clear of Caldwell, who is projected to be a second- or third-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

SHOULD BUCS EXECUTE DEAL FOR DE ALLEN?
Many pundits believe the 2008 NFL Draft class is fairly weak at several positions, including quarterback and wide receiver.

The Buccaneers are potentially in the market for a player at both of those positions as well as cornerback, defensive line and running back.

So, if you had your choice of taking any player in the 2008 NFL Draft or trading the Bucs' 20th overall selection and possibly a late pick and/or player to the Chiefs in exchange for last year's leading sacker, DE Jared Allen, which would you choose?

Tampa Bay's defense will be hard pressed to finish next year ranked No. 2 overall again if it doesn't improve its pass rush (see the Buc Update that will be published on PewterReport.com on Saturday), so if I'm Bucs general manager Bruce Allen I'm working my magic to execute the trade for Jared Allen, who is one of the league's best pass rushers and is only 26 years old.

BUCS OVERDUE FOR A FIRST-ROUND QB?
In last week's Flynn's Focus I mentioned the fact that Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has never worked with a former first-round quarterback during his six-year tenure in Tampa Bay.

That got me thinking — how many of the NFL's 32 teams have used a first-round pick to acquire a quarterback since 1995?

If you said eight teams you were partially correct, but you're technically wrong because two of those teams – Seattle and Kansas City – traded a first-round draft pick to acquire veteran QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Green, respectively, in 2001.

So, can you name the six teams that haven't used a first-round draft pick to acquire a quarterback since '95?

You are correct if you said Dallas, Miami, New England, New Orleans, St. Louis and, of course, Tampa Bay.

How long has it been since the Bucs actually used a first-round pick to acquire a signal caller?

Believe it or not, the Bucs haven't invested a first-round draft pick in a quarterback since 1994, which is when the team selected Trent Dilfer with the sixth overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft.

That was 13 drafts ago, so it's no wonder why the Buccaneers are considered a team interested in drafting a quarterback as early as the first round in the 2008 NFL Draft.

It might be long overdue given the fact that seven teams have actually used two first-round draft picks to acquire quarterbacks since '95.

Want the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2008 offseason plans? Want to find out who the Bucs are targeting in free agency and the NFL Draft this year? Subscribe to PewterReport.com's Pewter Insider by clicking here.

WATCH Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds and Jim Flynn on select Sunday nights at 11:30 p.m. on Sports Zone with Al Keck and Tom Korun on ABC Action News in Tampa Bay for Bucs game highlights and the latest Bucs news. And for the best local coverage of Tampa Bay sports and Tampa Bay news, check out ABCActionNews.com.

LISTEN to Pewter Report's Jim Flynn each Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. on the Pewter Pulse with Dan Sileo on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal, and catch Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds each Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. on the PewterReport.com Buccaneer Blitz with Steve Duemig on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal

 

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