The Buccaneers have been quiet in free agency, and while they may add some role players like a third-down back, it's clear at this point that they aren't going to sign any big names in free agency. Instead, they re-signed Davin Joseph, Quincy Black, Jeremy Trueblood and Adam Hayward, and brought in punter/kickoff specialist Michael Koenen. They gave all of these guys good contracts and perhaps even overpaid for them. But in free agency proper they've been quiet as a mouse. They appear to be sticking to their philosophy: draft well and re-sign your own. While some Bucs fans aren't happy, this is a philosophy that has worked well for other teams.
When was the last time that the Pittsburgh Steelers made a big investment in free agency? They've run their team using that philosophy since the 1970s. Free agency is not for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it's hard to argue with success. Of course, the Steelers can afford to stick to that philosophy without criticism because they've been so successful.
A better example would be the Green Bay Packers. Since GM Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy have taken over the Green Bay Packers, they've rebuilt that team through the draft. In 2008 and 2009 they were known as the best young team in the NFL because of that, a title now handed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For the Packers, that transition was a little easier than for the Bucs. When the Packers started their rebuilding process, they still had a lot of veteran talent on the roster. In 2007, that team reached the NFC Championship, and it didn't start its rebuilding process in full until 2008, when Aaron Rodgers was handed the reins. Their transition was fairly seamless, with only a down year in 2008, but they have stuck to that same philosophy: draft talent, re-sign their own players and ignore free agency.
The Bucs weren't so lucky. They scrapped most of their old roster in 2009 and 2010 as the team lacked talent to compete, which was exacerbated by poor coaching in 2009. They had to accelerate the transition because of that, but their philosophy has certainly shown results so far. They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball right now. For most of these players, inexperience is the biggest issue, and that can only be resolved by giving players opportunities in games.
The Buccaneers have embarked on a plan, and they appear to not be wavering. They have added exactly one impact player in free agency these past three years: Kellen Winslow (via trade), Sean Jones and Michael Koenen. They will continue to draft their own players, shying away from free agency no matter the state of their roster. That's the plan, and it's worked for other teams. It'll be interesting to see whether it works for the Buccaneers.
Of course, there's one caveat: there are reports that the Bucs have tried to sign a number of free agents this year, including Doug Free, Johnathan Joseph and Nnamdi Asomugha. If those are true (and we don't know if they are), that means that the Bucs have a plan they are willing to deviate from if the price is right. The price may not have been right for those free agents, but perhaps the Bucs aren't as inflexible in their plan as they seem.