When Mark Dominik took over as general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he brought with him a plan to build the team through the draft. The idea was to bring in players who would be with the Bucs for their entire career. The plan looked genius in 2010, when the Bucs won 10 games and nearly made it to the playoffs despite numerous injuries and an extremely young team. In 2011, though, that all collapsed as the Bucs lost their last 10 games in increasingly embarrassing fashion. The team responded by replacing the entire coaching staff and spending big in free agency.
Don't expect that spending spree to become a yearly occurrence, though. Head coach Greg Schiano made it clear when he appeared on PFT Live that his philosophy is not to constantly add premium free agents, but to build a team through the draft. That fits in nicely with what Mark Dominik has tried to do, and it's a strategy that makes sense: every perennial winner has built its team through the draft, not free agency. The Packers, the Steelers, the Patriots, the Giants - they don't go out and sign big names year after year. They're patient, they draft well, and they let their players develop. Compare that to the number of perennial winners who have built teams through free agency: they don't exist.
It's clear that the Bucs need to draft well, not be free agency winners, to build a long-term winner. Here's what Schiano had to say on that topic on PFT Live:
My belief is the way you build an NFL franchise is you draft and develop, and in college I believe it's you recruit and develop. But there was an opportunity here this year where we all new starting together, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do what we did: go out and spend money in free agency, get players. Because it doesn't matter if you're new with the Bucs coming from San Diego, or if you're new with the Bucs coming from Tampa Bay. Everybody was new to each other. I think this was the year to do it.
Moving forward, I hope that we can just continue to draft and develop and pay our own players. Keep them here and have guys that spend their career here, like a Ronde Barber and a Derrick Brooks and a John Lynch and a Warren Sapp. All those guys that play their career out here. I think that's the way you do it. And it's hard to do in this day and age, but I still believe that's the way to do it.