Tampa Bay sometimes gets a rap as a region that doesn’t care all that much about the Buccaneers. You can point to attendance to back that up. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
It’s late February and one little bit of news has caused a pretty major buzz in these parts. With Mario Manningham saying he doesn’t expect to return to the New York Giants, there’s suddenly a lot of speculation that he’ll end up in Tampa Bay. I heard a couple guys talking about it at my gym earlier Monday and it’s making the rounds on sports radio.
In one regard, it makes sense. Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was the quarterbacks coach for the Giants the past two years. Before that he coached receivers. He knows Manningham and Sullivan’s offense is likely to be somewhat similar to what the Giants run.
Manningham to Tampa Bay certainly could happen, but I don’t think this is the kind of move that’s going to solve all the Bucs’ problems. Manningham is a good, but not great, receiver. He did play well in the postseason, but he never has caught more than 60 passes in a year.
He might be a good No. 2 or No. 3 receiver, but it’s not a good idea to project a guy like that into the No. 1 spot. The Bucs did that years ago with Alvin Harper and Bert Emanuel and neither worked out all that well.
Plus, Manningham’s style isn’t dramatically different from what the Bucs have in Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn. He could compete with them, push them and maybe share playing time with them. But what the Bucs really need at wide receiver is someone who can stretch the field.
Manningham could be a nice piece in Tampa Bay’s receiving corps. But the Bucs may have their eye on something bigger -- or at least faster -- in free agency. Adding someone like Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson or DeSean Jackson -- if they hit free agency -- could give the Bucs a piece they need even more.