Why did the Tampa Bay Bucccaneers draft Mike Glennon? The Buccaneers have stated that he both filled the need of backup quarterback and that he was the highest rated player on their draft board. I can certainly believe that, but Dominik gave us another reason when he spoke to Justin Pawlowski on 98.7 The Fan today: the economic aspect.
"It used to be $1 to 2 million dollars," said Dominik. "Now it's four to five million dollars for a really good backup. When you draft a player like Mike Glennon in the third round and you feel like not only is he not only going to have a chance to develop, but then be good value for you because now he's going to cost you $600,000 to $700,000 a year. That's how you can improve the frontline of your team. That's how Darrelle Revis is on this football team, that's how we get Dashon Goldson, that's how we're going try to continue to keep a lot of our players going forward."
This speaks to the team's philosophy, which is now to pay bucketloads of cash to truly elite players and use the draft and cheap free agency to fill out the rest of the roster. Whether that's a smart philosophy remains to be seen, but that does mean that you get to see every drafted player as a replacement for a more expensive veteran. It's how you let Roy Miller walk to draft Akeem Spence, and why you let Michael Bennett walk to give William Gholston playing time.
This also tells you what they think of Dan Orlovsky, who has a $905,000 price tag this season. Whether Orlovsky remains on the roster is unknown at this point, but clearly they did not see him as their primary backup going forward. That was why they reportedly pursued Carson Palmer earlier this offseason, too. Mark Dominik acknowledged that the Bucs felt like they had a very good team, and that if something happened to Freeman they didn't want their season to effectively be over -- and that was one reason for pursuing a high-level backup. Of course, that also implies that in previous years they didn't think they were good. Realistic, I guess.
The problem is that this puts a tremendous burden on your ability to draft well. The Bucs have tried to supplement the draft with some cheap, third-tier free agents as well -- but those guys aren't going to make a big impact, either. The burden for the draft comes in finding starters as well as depth. Eight of the Bucs' starters are now on contracts worth a combined $80 million. The leaguewide salary cap was just $123 million this year. Clearly that doesn't leave a lot of room for error in finding starters through the draft.
We'll likely start to see the first effects next season. Michael Koenen and Connor Barth could quickly be replaced, but players like Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah and Davin Joseph have seen or will see the guarantees in their contracts run out and have to fear for their jobs every year. The Buccaneers will likely try to find two or three long-term, cheap starters in the draft every year to replace more expensive veterans. This season Johnthan Banks, Akeem Spence and Mike Glennon (as a backup and insurance0 fit that bill. Who will be replaced next season?