While I was away for a couple of days, Pewter Report came out with some shocking news: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren't interested in Dwight Freeney and John Abraham. I couldn't have guessed from the fact that they hadn't signed those guys, drafted three defensive linemen and have all but anointed Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn as their starters.
All kidding aside, Pewter Report makes a few good but obvious points. Freeney and Abraham would both be relatively expensive for a team that will have cap room issues in the future (cap space not spent rolls over into future years). Freeney and Abraham are both old and there are no guarantees they'd perform up to standards last season. Only 11 players in NFL history have posted 8+ sack years from age 35 on, and half of those players were slam dunk Hall of Famers. A few others: Kevin Greene, Michael Strahan and Too Tall Jones. At some point both Abraham and Freeney are going to be done, and the team that signs them last will be stuck footing the bill for a useless veteran.
Other reasons exist, too. Abraham and Freeney aren't overly likely to join in for part-time roles and the Buccaneers don't want to take too many snaps away from Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, who have the talent to be a very good duo as starting defensive ends. The two veterans would also take away snaps from young developmental pass rushers Steven Means and William Gholston, whom the Buccaneers drafted this week. They didn't draft them to sit them behind a couple of veterans. In fact with Daniel Te'o-Nesheim on the roster as well, the Buccaneers have five defensive ends who they're almost certainly keeping on their 53-man roster. That doesn't leave much room for a veteran addition.
One point made in that Pewter Report article is ridiculous, though. Mark Cook was told that the Bucs think Abraham is a character risk, "evidenced by the fact that Atlanta doesn't want him back." The idea that a fourteen-year veteran who has been productive throughout his career and has been a model citizen in the past poses character issues is ludicrous on its face. The Falcons kept Abraham on board for a long time, and only released him this season because they saved $6 million in cap room by doing so. They then spent a smaller part of that cap room to sign Osi Umenyiora -- you know, a younger and cheaper player. Oh, and they actually did want him back.
I don't doubt that people inside the Buccaneers' building told Mark Cook that -- I just have a feeling they have a different agenda. All of the other reasons make sense and are adequate to explain the lack of interest. The character issues? That's just silly, especially so when you realize that the Buccaneers actually appeared to be interested in Abraham just a few months ago.
Freeney, Abraham and other veterans like them could easily wait until after training camp to sign with a team. Not only would they then miss a grueling camp so they can spare their bodies, the market would be a little better with a few teams undoubtedly finding themselves with a lack of pass rushers after injuries hit. And if Adrian Clayborn's recovery doesn't go according to plan or someone suffers an injury, they could probably turn to Abraham or Freeney at that time.