In the end, the mouth is mightier than the hands.
While never really being a 'T.O.' on the team, Antonio Bryant was the lone voice in the 3-13 locker room calling for more plays, which pretty much equates to being an "I" kind of player, rather than a "We". To say the news of Bryant's release is unexpected would be pointless, as more than half of our own readers have commented in the past that he will not be here in 2010; yet the fact remains that the team is now one star down on about a 5 star team. No, not as in hotel and restaurants either.
When explained however, the move makes sense. A quarterback comes into his own in his third or fourth year. Bryant would be 32 by then, and ready to be replaced. Morris and the Bucs see Josh Freeman as a Troy Aikman type player, and all the great quarterbacks had wide receivers that grew into the offense with them. Aikman has his Michael Irvin, Montana had his Clark and Solomon. In many of the prolific offenses, the main three components of an offense grow together, and the Bucs right now are all about building a solid foundation like the team was built in the 90s under Tony Dungy, which resulted in a World Championship in 2002.
Bryant played his way out of the picture, by being seen as a selfish player who in a time of crisis, called attention to himself, even though it was not painted in the same light as some of the worst case scenarios we have seen in the NFL.
The move, or rather the non-move, regarding Michael Clayton is a little harder to understand. Dont get me wrong, if your going to go young at receivers, you need to keep a few that have been around for awhile. Clayton fits the bill now as having been with the team since 2004, but Clayton's production calls for some concern at the notion that yet another Wide Receivers coach can resurrect his career.
The problem is, the Bucs may be right in the fact that his up and down play is mental. Clearly Clayton is a head case, and his play shows a roller coaster tendancy at best over the last 6 seasons. We all know about 2004 and his rookie campaign, but we also know about the rest of history which now greatly outnumbers that magical season. Clayton started out the season with a bang in the opening game vs Dallas. His coach really put himself on the hot seat by alligning himself with him after that game in the press conference, only to watch the rest of the year play out the way it did. But there are some other circumstances that could be in play as to why Clayton will be on this team in 2010 but Bryant won't;
- Clayton just resigned a very lucrative contract last season. Im no expert in cap ramifications, especially in this crazy mixed up cap-less year, but I do know once an agreement is made, the cap goes back into place and there is no 'grandfather-ing' in of what you did in the 2010 season.
- Clayton has scored a couple TDs in the last 18 games and seems to have a better sense for the endzone than recent years.
- For a team that wants to establish the run, Clayton is still one of the premier physical receivers at the position, basically acting like a tight end with his blocking abilities, something we lack at the actual tight end position.