A cashier at Publix says they didn’t do enough in free agency. A bartender at Applebee’s waits for the draft. A guy at Panera Bread, who always talks to me about football ten minutes longer than I’d like him to, thinks trading away draft picks for proven talent is a foolproof scheme.
If it were your team, what would you do? If you had to ink the checks, how would you spend?
From the recliner, the answer is easy: Whatever it takes to win. But there’s more to it than that.
Hindsight being 20/20, the Buccaneers lack of action in free agency doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. In fact, I’m excited about it. Perhaps, the draft is the perfect place to build a team. I mean, look at the 2002 Super Bowl team. Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, Brian Kelly, Dexter Jackson and Dwight Smith all came via the draft. Sure, the offense was scattered with veterans from around the league. But offense didn’t beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship or the Raiders in San Diego. That was the defense.
Now flash back to 2010.
Stay at No. 3 Tampa Bay, and take whoever is left out of Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Eric Berry. In the second round, address the receiver position and either defensive tackle or safety, whichever wasn’t there at No. 3. For the rest of the draft, the best player on the board on the defensive side of the ball should be priority. It’s a simple formula. Could the Bucs use another offensive lineman or take a chance in the later rounds on another receiver? Sure, if someone falls farther down the board than Mel Kiper thinks he should. Otherwise, draft defense so I can get back the Buccaneers I know and love.
In the uncapped year, which we should all get used to because it’s likely here to stay, too much money is being thrown at free agents. Consequently, teams are placing absurdly high tenders on restricted free agents, making many acquisitions unrealistic for a Buccaneer team looking more towards 2011 (if there is one) than 2010.
If it were my team, I’d hit the draft board hard. I’d be looking to unload some older talent to contenders to get more draft picks rather than send them away for receivers who caught as many touchdowns in 2009 as I did (Cough, cough, Reggie Brown). If it were my money, I’d rather spend it on another potential Sammie Stroughter in the 6th round of the 2011 draft, the choice the Bucs gave to the Eagles in return for Brown.
If it were my team, Michael Clayton would be gone, and in his place we’d find a draft pick, likely a late-rounder, and I’d admit what a mistake he’s been.
If it were my team, the last full weekend in April would be the biggest weekend of my year. It would be the weekend we get a glimpse at the future of a franchise with nowhere to go but up. It would be the weekned we finally get the draft right and generate a little excitement at One Buc Place.
If it were my team.