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The Truth About Free Agency

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There seems to be some sort of misunderstanding when it comes to free agent spending

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Bruce Arians Press Conference Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This is an open letter to the groups that comment on social medias, message boards, and any other way they can voice their displeasure about the signings that the Buccaneers - or any NFL team - make this off-season.

See, there seems to be some sort of misunderstanding when it comes to the money NFL teams spend versus a fan’s wishlist or preference. I thought I would use this time to sort of clear the air on some topics that really frustrate the majority as well as to educate those that are the offenders.

BREAKING NEWS: NOT EVERY PLAYER THAT IS SIGNED IS DONE SO TO BE A STARTER.

BREAKING NEWS: NOT EVERY PLAYER THAT IS SIGNED IS OR WILL BE A PRO BOWLER, AN ALL-PRO, OR A HALL OF FAMER.

BREAKING NEWS: NFL TEAMS DO NOT CARE WHICH PLAYERS YOU FEEL ARE BEST FOR THE TEAM. THEY KNOW MORE THAN YOU DO - THAT’S WHY THEY’RE PAID TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS.

*Sigh* - okay, now we can begin to move on.

What started all this was the flood of all these “original” comedians calling the Bucs the “Tampa Bay Cardinals” following the signing of Andre Ellington. Let’s stop there for a moment - knock it off with that nonsense. News flash: every coach in history brings in coaches and players he is familiar with once he joins a new team. It has been happening since the dawn of time. It is not exclusive to the Bucs. Also, it’s not funny or original.

This team, prior to the Ellington signing, had Ronald Jones, Shaun Wilson, and Dare Ogunbawale under contract for 2019. That’s it. Ellington was signed to compete for the Jacquizz Rodgers role - third down back, and veteran familiar with the offense and coaching staff.

For some reason, people were ready to jump off a ledge because they see the signing and assume that Ellington was automatically gifted the starting position. That’s not how this works. On top of that, free agency hasn’t even actually started yet, so all these people screaming for Le’Veon Bell or Mark Ingram, or whoever - those players can’t sign anywhere until the new league year starts in March. Chill.

The running back room is one that garners a lot of attention, so a veteran familiar with the coaches and system isn’t a bad thing. It’s going to help everyone out in the long run. The Bucs may even be able to cut him before the season depending on how the contract is structured and whether or not he’s performing.

The other thing to bear in mind is that there isn’t some sort of endless supply of money. If a player like Adam Humphries signs elsewhere that does not mean the Bucs didn’t want him, just that someone else was willing to pay more. Or, and this is something people tend to forget all the time, is that free agency isn’t a trade market. The player has to WANT to play somewhere to sign a deal. If he’s traded, he has no say. Free agency? The world is his oyster.

So if the Buccaneers don’t sign a player you wanted, that doesn’t mean they’re idiots, or didn’t want him, or anything like that. These players have plenty of options and other franchises have far more money. It’s about building the best TEAM, not acquiring the most divas or marquee names.

So, when all is said and done, stop overreacting to every single move. There are 53 spots on the roster and only 22 of them are starters. Teams need reliable depth, they need team cohesiveness, and the desire to push each other to be the best. Not every signing is for a starter, not every signing is going to make you want to run out and buy a jersey, but every signing happens for a reason - and those decisions are made by people who are far smarter about the world of football than you or me.