This is not something that most people will remember, but when the NFL lockout happened in 2011, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were fined over $100,000 for having contact with players. At the time, it was reported that the Bucs called Kellen Winslow, Niko Koutouvides and Aqib Talib, specifically. Two weeks ago, Dominik went into some detail about those issues and the ridiculously extensive league investigation into the issue on Sirius XM.
While Dominik says the fine was over congratulation a player (Kellen Winslow) with the birth of a child, he also notes calls to seven players for 60 minutes. So yeah, they broke the rules -- the rule may have been petty, but that's how this stuff works.
That ties into another thing Mark Dominik talked about recently on Sirius XM: he went on the record to express his disgust at some of the players he signed as a general manager, naming Jerramy Stevens explicitly -- and maybe referencing Mike Williams, who turned into a largely useless player after signing a contract extension in 2013. JoeBucsFan has the full transcription, but this bit stood out:
When you do that, sometimes you end up either signing players that two years later is on your resume that you regret, saying, ‘I was just doing what everybody wanted' and/or making these decisions [signing dirtbags]. I was guilty of both of them.
"I signed players to extensions where I look back and say, ‘You know what? I should have just stood my ground.' But I didn't. It is what it is. That's on my resumé. Or, we gaveJerramy Stevens an extension, I gave him a two-year extension and he made a poor choice right before a game [chuckles]. I sat there - it's on my resumé. I didn't sign Jerramy Stevens the first time but I did give him a small deal to come back. That's on my resumé.
The Bucs have largely stayed away from adding controversial players to the roster since Mark Dominik left, with the exception of Jameis Winston -- a pretty large exception, given that he's the number one overall pick. And the team did at least entertain the notion of signing both Greg Hardy and Richie Incognito, while they've also been tied to Adrian Peterson -- all players with significant off-field question marks, or even outright criminal behavior.
So far, nothing heinous has happened under Lovie Smith's and Jason Licht's watch -- and so far, they haven't actually signed any controversial players, changing their minds at the last minute or losing out to other teams, depending on the case. But the team hasn't really steered clear of these players either, and as Dominik notes and Ray McDonald shows, those players can come back to hurt you later on. Is that worth the added value of those players on the field? That's a tough question to answer.