After all the feel-good vibes of the rookies following the draft and rookie minicamp, there's been a spiked level of discussion, both here at Buc'Em and in the blogosphere, as to what the future holds for the marriage between Michael Clayton and the Buccaneers.
I'd say that marriage could at least use some counseling right about now.
To call the Michael Clayton signing a mistake would be like saying Jon Gruden is slightly critical of quarterbacks. It was a head-scratcher at the time he signed and reeked of desperation to keep him from boarding the plane and going to Seattle for a visit. Going over Clayton's stats would be one of the greatest exercises in futility this site has ever seen, so I won't go down that road either.
So, rather than look at the past, what's worth discussing is his future and his place on this team. No doubt, his forte is getting a good block on a receiver and helping out in the running game. However, this roster now has two new guys suited for the outide WR slots who have good size and strength (although it's a worthless stat in my book, Benn did lead all WRs at the combine with 20 bench press reps). An improved Stovall is back and gives the Bucs another outside receiver with size and (some) downfield ability. Reggie Brown, while not as big as the other receivers, has shown the ability to play at a solid level before taking a backseat role in Philly. As such, Clayton's going to have to go out and win a roster spot in what will amost certainly be an open competition. Although it's outrageously early to prognosticate camp results, I have little faith that he will earn a starting spot, although he could remain on the roster in a reserve role....if he doesn't get the axe beforehand.
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As for the media who have chimed on on the issue, Clayton actually is getting some arguments in his favor to stick around. As Roy Cummings points out, money could be a significant factor in the decision:
Oh yes, the writing is on the wall. The thing you have to remember, though, is the Bucs paid Clayton an awful lot of money last year. His new contract is for five years and is worth $24 million. More than $10 million of that is guaranteed. That's a hefty investment and I doubt the Bucs will cash in at a loss after just one season. My guess is that Clayton is back for 2010.
The flip side of that coin is that Clayton is due a base salary of $3 million if he's around this fall. If the Bucs keep him around for depth, in a reserve role, or in a short-lived starting position, they're basically paying top dollar for one of the least productive receivers on the roster. Is that good business? I don't think so.
Brad Biggs of the National Football Post muses over whether the Bucs would be willing to let Clayton walk for nothing after giving him an albatross of a deal:
That leaves the Bucs with a decision to make. Do they dump Clayton now knowing he will not bring anything in return? Or do they keep him around and ensure that injuries don’t take a toll on their depth chart that includes Reggie Brown, who they picked up this offseason from Philadelphia?
Again, to me it's a matter of being willing to recognize a bad business deal and move on for the better. It's pretty clear that the Bucs have determined that Michael Clayton is a spade they're not going to be able to play.
So I put it to you....... do you think Michael Clayton will be cut and do you think he should be?