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Monday, February 16, 2009
Mailbag: Tampa Bay edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The final stop on our team-by-team mailbag tour is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

MW in NY writes: Will the Bucs attempt to acquire Fred Taylor?

Pat Yasinskas: Wow, didn't take long after Taylor's release from Jacksonville to get Tampa Bay fans started on this path. Logical question (shared by many of you) based on Tampa Bay's way of doing things in recent years. The Bucs of Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen never were afraid to bring in a big-name veteran near the end of his career (perhaps the only one they didn't get was Brett Favre, and they tried like heck). But I'm sensing new general manager Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris are going to take a different approach in this area. Part of the reason Allen and Gruden got fired was because they were always looking to patch things together quickly and it never really looked like they had a long-term plan. Yes, Dominik did work for Allen and he'll take the good parts from him (mainly salary-cap management). But Dominik also worked with Rich McKay, Tim Ruskell and Jerry Angelo at the start of his career and he probably picked up some ideas from them as well. I think Dominik and Morris are going to be very deliberate in their moves and try to build this team with a younger core that can stay in place for a while. There might be some veterans, including some high-profile free agents, brought in. But I think the days of signing guys at the end of their careers are over. Taylor was a great player, but is he much different than Warrick Dunn right now? I'm not even sure the Bucs will be keeping Dunn.


Jim Wright in Tampa writes: Should Bucs go after a QB in the 1st round of the draft; perhaps Josh Freeman of KSU; most likely Stafford and Sanchez will be gone by the time the Bucs draft in the 19th spot. Or would they do better to take a WR or DT or DE. Hopefully, McCown will do well but we may still a a QB for the future.

Pat Yasinskas: I think it's a little risky to think you can get a franchise quarterback with the 19th pick. The Bucs have high hopes for Luke McCown and that's why they re-signed him. But I still think it's entirely possible Tampa Bay could add a quarterback in the draft or as a free agent. But I think a team picking in the middle or late first round can get more value by drafting another position. I agree the Bucs could use help at wide receiver, defensive tackle or defensive end and a new coach and general manager might get more rapid results by drafting one of those positions. I think the Bucs will add another quarterback to the mix, but I don't think it will come in the first round of the draft. Maybe later in the draft or maybe in free agency.


Brian in parts unkown writes: Just wanted to know with all of the players that the Bucs have becoming free agents, which of those would you expect the to retain?

Pat Yasinskas: Just looking at the list of Tampa Bay's potential free agents, I'd say receiver Antonio Bryant, cornerback Phillip Buchanon and safety Jermaine Phillips are the top three priorities. I also think there's a chance receiver Michael Clayton could stay because his problems were with Gruden and not the new regime. We already know the Bucs aren't bringing back quarterback Jeff Garcia. I think defensive end Kevin Carter, defensive tackle Jovan Haye and tight end Jerramy Stevens also will be allowed to test free agency.


Jordan in Orlando writes: Has the bucs released any info about resigning WR Bryant?

Pat Yasinskas: The Bucs aren't going to release any information on Bryant unless they have him signed. They're in the negotiating process and I'm sure the Bucs want to keep Bryant. He also has a desire to stay in Tampa Bay after resurrecting his career there last year. Morris was on Gruden's staff and got a first-hand look at how Bryant turned his life around. In a lot of ways, that's an advantage because Bryant wouldn't have to prove himself to another head coach. But we're at the point in time where it comes down to business and money. I think the Bucs are working hard to keep Bryant and my guess is you'll see him re-sign with Tampa Bay. Also, I think even if Bryant re-signs, the Bucs could be a big player for another wide receiver in free agency.