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Mark Dominik Will Focus On In-House Free Agents, Or So He Says

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Mark Dominik told the St. Petersburg Times that he will focus on re-signing the team's own free agents. For anyone following Dominik's claims these past seasons, this should be no surprise:The Bucs have consistently said that they want to build their team through the draft, re-signing the players they have groomed in-house.

The Bucs have plenty of players they could re-sign: Davin Joseph, Barrett Ruud, Quincy Black, Adam Hayward, Cadillac Williams, Tim Crowder, Stylez G. White, John Gilmore, Maurice Stovall, Jeremy Trueblood, James Lee and Micheal Spurlock are some of the players who could earn long-term contracts. In addition, the Bucs could decide to offer players still under contract like Josh Freeman and Roy Miller extensions. But don't think that this means Mark Dominik isn't going to sign a couple of free agents. 

Despite his insistence that the Bucs should build through the draft, he has not consistently run this franchise like that. His first act as General Manager once free agency opened in 2009 was to trade away draft picks for Kellen Winslow. After that he tried to get Albert Haynesworth to come to Tampa. Once that failed, he signed Byron Leftwich for a quarterback competition, and added the best most overpriced running back on the market: Derrick Ward. In addition, he re-signed Michael Clayton - the first of a grand total of two re-signings of drafted players. 

In 2010 he re-signed a second player, but only after a lengthy holdout: Donald Penn got a decent but not premier contract as the starting left tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But that's it: that's all the re-signing of drafted players he has done. And in 2010, the free agent signing continued, although at a much lower pace. Sean Jones was brought in and the Bucs traded for (and swiftly cut) WR Reggie Brown.

Was there ever a plan to build through the draft and sprinkle in select free agents? I don't know, but history doesn't suggest there was. Signing Derrick Ward and Byron Leftwich while going after Albert Haynesworth sure doesn't look like 'building through the draft' to me, and it doesn't look like focusing on the team's own free agents either. In fact, the team has been much more active in free agency than with re-signing its own players these past two years.

This could change this year, of course, but it would surprise me if it did. I don't expect Mark Dominik to swing for the fences and go for the biggest names out there, and I do expect him to re-sign at least Davin Joseph. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Bucs sign some second-tier free agents when they can in lieu of re-signing some of their own players.