1. Make a very competitive offer for WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Yes, I know I said make a competitive offer for Housh, not necessarily sign him. I don't think you offer ANYTHING out there to bring in a player ($100 million for Haynesworth was stupid and anything more would've been really stupid), but with far and away the most cap room, the Bucs should at least match or slightly one-up the best offer he receives (unless completely ludicrious)... really put that "I only want to play for a team with an established QB" to the test. That theory looks even more like a fallacy now, with Housh set to visit both the Bucs and the Vikes... teams certainly without established QBs. Carson Palmer is apparently doing everything short of laying down in front of Housh's car to keep him from leaving town, too. As such, it'll really be interesting to see just how aggressive the Bucs get to try to snare the best free-agent WR on the market. Due to shedding starters and creating so many glaring roster holes, the Bucs will have to address some holes in free agency, as they simply can't part with too many draft picks in the offseason trying to trade for starters. Housh is the kind of player you want to have in any offense: a solid, route-running, deep threat WR. What a compliment he'd be to HR threat Bryant on the other side and pass-catching Kellen Winslow in the middle. Suddenly, the winner of the QB training camp sweepstakes has some potent toys to throw to. That doesn't sound too bad. Quid pro quo... if the Bucs are looking to build long-term, does it make sense to sign a guy like Housh to a team that might not compete for a few years? Might he get ornery like last year? Also, he'll turn 32 during the season... by the time the team turns the corner, could he be too old? Those are questions Dominik will likely ponder before making a major investment in a guy that some don't view as a #1 WR (I think he's borderline, but would become an impact player here). That said, I personally hate it when you don't go after a guy because the team might not be competitive right now. Don't you always have to TRY to field a competitive team and win?
2. Re-sign secondary mates CB Phillip Buchanon and S Jermaine Phillips. You just paid 2.35 mil for one year to backup S Will Allen, so why not get your starters locked down? Dawkins, Atogwe, Gibril Wilson, and Phillips are the best S UFA's this offseason. Dawkins and Wilson (arghh!!) are gone and Rams' S Atogwe will demand probably more money than most would like to pay. Phillips' market should be somewhat tainted by his injury history. I'm not writing off his injury history with that statement, but he's probably the best option out there for the Bucs right now and worth the risk. I'm not ready to go into the season with Sabby starting at SS. I just don't think he's ready for that role. At corner, with Dunta Robinson and Asomugha effectively removed from the market, Buchanon, Jabari Greer, and Chris McAllister remain the best UFA CBs on the market. Greer is a stick to em like glue cover guy. That said, he's coming off a strong campaign in Buffalo and is a relatively hot commodity right now with Buchanon kind of being looked at as the other guy. McAllister is up in years and doesn't jive with the team's youth movement. Get our guys signed.
3. Kick the tires on UFA DT Colin Cole. Come on, Craig T. A backup, fat guy like Cole? As we all know, this team needs a big undertackle. Looking at the free agent options, there are few and far between that meet the type that fits Bates' system. While Cole may not have started last year, he's a robust 6'1 330 and logged some important time in the Packers' DT rotation last year. He might not start in Tampa, depending on who the Bucs acquire, but he should certainly help plug some beef in the middle of that line. He's visiting defensively-challenged Seattle this weekend, so if the Bucs want to bring him in, they need to avoid dragging their feet on this one.
4. Trade down/stockpile picks. This goes without saying, IMO. Due to our mass exodus of starters and role players, the roster looks like swiss cheese. Now without a second-round pick, the Bucs will need to get creative to manufacture some picks, with both starters AND depth now being sought. Unless a can't-miss player is available for the Bucs at 19, they would be very wise to trade down and acquire more day 1 picks. If they trade out of the first round altogether, they should be able to pick up at least 2 first day picks, which would go a long way towards refueling the lineup. Like I said... it all depends who is out there for the Bucs (I'd pull the trigger on Malauga) when they pick because almost every position is a need position now (thus they should be able to help their lineup by trading down, acquiring picks, and still nabbing a good player at most any position).
5. Avoid Kurt Warner and any other stop-gapper/journeyman. Some people around the office are talking about the prospects of chasing Kurt Warner for some reason. Hell to the no. I'm sure our readership here is bright enough to realize the folly that would be without me needing to explain. No way the Bucs should or will sign another aging hipster QB, based on "the plan" or whatever vague term Morris and Dominik call the direction of the team. Clearly, it's time to toss our little boys in the water and teach them to swim. DISCLAIMER: Jay Cutler is not old, nor is he a stop-gapper/journeyman. If he could be had, the Bucs should seriously consider taking a run at him. Depending on whether you believe Adam Schefter or Vic Lombardi, the Broncos are or are not actively shopping him right now.
These are some things that strike me as important. Please feel free to add your suggestions. What else should our braintrust do?