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Monday, February 23, 2009
Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaners edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Our third stop on the tour of NFC South team-by-team mailbags is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

JAD in Woodbridge writes: Hey Pat, do you think it is possible for the Buccaneers to sign T.J, Haynesworth, and Ward from the Giants, and have enough money to sign our own FA?

Pat Yasinskas: While I'm cautioning fans of the other three NFC South teams not to get too carried-away with their free-agency expectations, I'm not doing that with the Buccaneers. They've got a lot of cap space to work with and coach Raheem Morris has pretty much admitted the Bucs are going to pursue Albert Haynesworth. Makes sense because they need help in the middle of their defensive line and he's the best defensive tackle available. That doesn't mean for certain the Bucs will get Haynesworth, but I expect them to make a serious run at him. Keep one other thing in mind when you're talking about the Bucs and free agency: Florida has no state income tax and that's important to players (and their agents) when you're talking about multi-million-dollar deals.


J.J. in Denver, CO writes: Pat, As a Buccaneers fan I would love to get Albert Haynesworth in FA but what are the possibilities of obtaining WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh if we cant land Haynesworth? Or any situation that would land them both in Tampa? Thanks for the work you do with the NFC South Blog.

Pat Yasinskas: Even if the Bucs do get Albert Haynesworth, and re-sign their own free agents (Jermaine Phillips, Kevin Carter and Phillip Buchanon), they still could make a run at T.J. Houshmandzadeh. They've got enough cap room to do all that -- and even make several more moves. Picture Houshmandzadeh and Antonio Bryant together. You might see the Bucs throw the ball downfield more than they have in a long time.


Jeff in denver writes: I'm worried with Antonio Bryant not wanting to sign his franchise offer. He's really all we have on the team man thats really worth a damm. do you think they front office will give him a long term contract or what?

Pat Yasinskas: Relax a bit on Bryant. Yes, his agent is saying he's not happy with the franchise tag. But that's what agents are supposed to do and it's part of the game. The Bucs can keep trying to sign Bryant to a long-term contract up until July 15 and I suspect there will be a lot more talk about trying to lock him up.


Brian in Oklahoma writes: With free-agency looming around the corner, which free agent would you most likely see the Bucs making the a run for? And by the way like the blog very informative.

Pat Yasinskas: Well, we've mentioned Haynesworth and Houshmandzadeh already, so I'll give you another name I've hard some rumblings about. That's New York Giants running back Derrick Ward. I've heard the Bucs may pursue him and I think that would make a lot of sense. They clearly need another running back. They've got Earnest Graham and that's a good start. But Warrick Dunn's not getting any younger and nobody knows if Cadillac Williams will play again or be anywhere close to what he was before his two major knee injuries.


Chris in Arizona writes: Pat, first off, love your blog. Second, I know I'm just thinking way too far into the future here, but If Coach Jags wants to use Tight Ends more in the offense, and I know this is way too early to even bring this up but I'm doing it anyway. What are the chances the Bucs draft a guy like Rob Gronkowski out of Arizona, who many people think will be the best TE in the NCAA next season, in the 2010 draft? hey I'm a Bucs fan at the U of A, so I'm just getting over hyped aren't I?

Pat Yasinskas: Nothing wrong with looking into the future. But let's wait a year and see where the Bucs are at before we go making predictions on the 2010 draft. They might find an answer this year.


Daryl in Springfield, NJ: Hi Pat, As always, love the NFC South blog. I just was looking over Jagodzinski's comments, and I was wondering about his plans to use a zone blocking scheme. I've never been a fan of zone blocking and the Bucs built their line around maulers recently rather than the smaller quicker linemen you seen in zone blocking teams. How will this affect the Tampa o-line? Will there be a need for an overhaul just when it seems like the line it turning into a major bright spot for the team?

Pat Yasinskas: Good question. The one thing Jeff Jagodzinski and defensive coordinator Jim Bates said in their introductory meetings with the media is that they both have some things they like to do, but they won't put their players in spots where they're not playing to their strength. Tampa Bay's offensive line is a strength. Say what you want about former coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen, but they've invested a lot in the offensive line in free agency and the draft the last few years and it's the unquestioned strong point of this offense. Jagodzinski may insert some zone-blocking principles, but I don't think you'll see him go with the pure zone-blocking schemes we've seen in Atlanta and Denver in the past. It would make no sense to blow up a strong point and start all over.