We are now just over two weeks into the free agency period. It's been a relatively quiet free agency period, something that most league experts expected with a lower than normal amount of unrestricted free agents and a lack of concrete information on how future potential capped years may work. Most teams not named Chicago have been pretty even handed when doling out money, not breaking the banks and trending downards on spending. While the uncapped years signalled a free for all to many fans in terms of spending, it has been quite the opposite. With no floor in place, and many players either under contract or able to be retained via the one year restricted free agent tender, spending has been very lackluster to this point.
Some teams, like the Bears, have a coach and GM on the hot seat, thus the pressure is there to win. This is a potential problem anytime a team has a coach on the hot seat. The gut reaction is to go spend, pick up players and try to save the job. Afterall, if they win, they stay employed and collect paychecks. If they lose, they get fired and don't have to worry about the cap mess they left behind.
The other end of the spectrum are the teams who don't spend, but stand pat with what they have. A lot of fans have thrown Tampa into that mix, though they have signed a few players, the most notable (and recent) being Sean Jones. We don't know if this signals the end of the Bucs spending in free agency, but there are still some potential targets out there, mainly in the secondary.
When free agent spending isn't happening, there is always the chance to work out a trade. We've seen teams ship picks and players all across the league. The most interesting, and potentially foolish trade seems to have been consummated by Seattle when they gave up a 3rd rounder for Charlie Whitehurst, a quarterback who has seen zero regular season snaps. The trade itself isn't the bizarre part. It makes sense for Seattle to try and get a backup and heir to Matt Hasselback, especially after losing Seneca Wallace. The infuriating part of the trade, if you're a Seahawk fan is the $4-5MM a year given to Whitehurst.
What does this have to do with the Bucs? Afterall, we are a Bucs blog. Well, we've been harping on the front office for not spending, for not trading, for sitting back, but when we evaluate their activity, or lack thereof, it's important to keep a few things in mind. We all want the Bucs to sign players who will help us win. What we have to realize is that not every player will fit in with our scheme, our checkbook, or our direction. Additionally, I would much rather the Glazers sat on their wallet and be a bit "cheap" then start handing out fat deals to guys who don't deserve it. We've been down that road with Clayton, I have no interest in paying a backup level player like Whitehurst starter money. We certainly do need players to help us win, but at what cost? Bringing in a top tier or second level guy for good money is fine, but I'm in no rush to pay big money for a guy who may or may not pan out.
Free agency is going full speed right now, regardless of what we see happening down here in Tampa. It will be years before we can assess the Glazers success or lack of it in the 2010 free agency period, but thus far, it seems they have addressed a need without spending top dollar and have avoided blowing up the bank for minimal gains.