Mark Dominik: Not signing unrestricted free agents is about budgeting right

Appearing on W620DAE, Mark Dominik talked about a lot of things (listen to the full interview, it's worth it), but one thing stuck out to me: His reasoning for not being active in free agency. 

"We just had what we believe is the best rookie running back and the best rookie receiver in the National Football League. Well one day I'm going to get phonecalls and I'm going to get door-knocks," explained the Bucs' General Manager. "And then we've got this young quarterback who's actually younger than both those guys and he's going to want his payday also. So, we have to budget right."

The Bucs have to budget right for the future, so they don't run into salary cap problems when they need to re-sign their own young stars. That's a valid argument, actually. It's very easy to go over the salary cap quickly, and we all know the problems the Bucs had with the cap in the mid '00s. The Bucs have to make sure that they aren't forced to say goodbye to their own stars in a couple of years. And with a new, lower salary cap the ramifications of handing out big deals aren't clear yet. A little caution is appropriate. Unfortunately, I'm not buying Dominik's reasoning. 

Now, admittedly I'm no salary cap expert, but it seems to me that when you have $30.2 million in cap room (fourth in the NFL), that bringing in a free agent or two isn't going to cripple your salary cap. No, what can cripple your salary cap is giving big deals to players that probably aren't worthy - like Davin Joseph and Quincy Black. Joseph and Black are solid players, but they both got more than solid contracts. Now, the Bucs can afford to do so, and it won't hurt them for the next couple of years, but it's not very logical to hand out those contracts when you talk about budgeting right. 

If Mark Dominik was so concerned with budgeting right, he could have made that a lot easier on himself by not handing out those big contracts. Budgeting right is important, but I doubt getting in a free agent aside from a punter would have caused the Bucs problems in two years. Then again, it is also clear that some of the possible targets got some very good deals. Both Johnathan Joseph and Doug Free got very good deals, and I could see why the Bucs would pass on those kinds of numbers. 

Of course, he did go on to explain why he wanted to retain his players: because the Bucs want to create a homegrown team. A team where you know every player, because they've been in Tampa for a long time and are lifelong Buccaneers. Like, dare I say it again, the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's a good argument not to bring in stopgaps and backups in free agency, but it's not really valid when you can add young, quality starters to the team. And in the most loaded free agency class ever, the Bucs failed to do just that. 

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