Don Banks of Sports Illustrated wrote some front office power rankings. The day free agency starts. Okay then. He talked to "current league club executives and veteran agents" to get some opinions on front offices around the league. He then proceeded to list the top 12 (no Buccaneers), and four special cases. One of those would be the Buccaneers. The verdict? Good front office, cheap owners.
The budget-conscious Bucs -- Reality or fiction, the perception within the league is that the Bucs have a quality young general manager in Mark Dominik, and a solid head coach in Greg Schiano, but they're limiting them both by trying to win on the cheap. Tampa Bay does a pretty respectable job in the draft, and they're seen as a franchise headed in the right direction. But the league also implemented new rules a few years back to make teams use a good bit of their salary cap, in part with light-spending Tampa Bay in mind.
The culprit, as many see it, is the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs in addition to their other professional sports holding, the legendary Manchester United soccer team in England. The question you hear around the league is whether Tampa Bay is committed to winning at the same level as most of their NFL opponents?
The reference to the salary floor is amusing, because it is a largely impotent measure that won't have a huge effect on the team's spending. More interesting, though, is the fact that this opinion rules around the league. Whether that's fair or not remains debatable. There are good reasons to build teams through the draft, and it's not like the Bucs have had some huge draft successes to re-sign over the years.
Still, it's undeniable that the Buccaneers used to be one of the lowest-spending clubs in the NFL, at least when it came to player salaries. The same can't be said anymore, though. The Bucs were the biggest spenders in free agency last season, and were near the top in total salary. They looked poised to do the same this season with rumors of another big free agency push focused on the secondary. Whether or not the perception of the Glazers was fair, I don't think it's fair anymore.