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Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are next in our series of team-by-team mailbags.

Chris in Lakeland, Fla. writes: Hey Pat, I am a Bucs fan and it is exciting to see them make some moves, I like our team now and realize it can only get better via free agency. Anyways I wondering (maybe you can do a blog about it) but what is to happen after free agency and the Bucs still have a lot of their money? Especially with no salary cap next year? Are they just saving for next year? Thanks

Pat Yasinskas: Good question about the salary cap and a lot of people are wondering about that. First, let's clear up one misconception that's out there. I know a lot of people think the Bucs are being "cheap." But I don't think you truly can make that argument because, aside from there being a salary cap, there's also a salary floor. The salary cap is $127 million, but every NFL team must use a minimum of $111 against the salary cap. The Bucs still have a lot of cap room (can't give you an exact number because it's still in flux with the Derrick Ward and Michael Clayton deals, but it's at least $40 million). It's still early in the process and I anticipate the Bucs making some more significant moves that will eat into that cap money.


Vegasbeefcake in parts unknown writes: Pat, Why do people think that the Bucs would be big players in FA? The Bucs are notoriously cheap from the very beginning. The Glazers seem to spend more money on the Bucs until they brought that stupid soccer team in England. I feel that they are saving all this money to pay for that. What do you think?

Pat Yasinskas: I know the theory about the Glazers and Manchester United is making the rounds. But the Bucs have shelled out some big cash to sign Derrick Ward and re-sign some of their own players. I think they're far from done in free agency. Also, one other thing I'll say here is, if the Bucs really are trying to save money, why did they fire Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen? They're still going to be paying those two combined about $25 million over the next three years.


Sir Pritam the Great of England in Death Valley writes: Do you think Niko Koutouvides could vie for something more than just a special teams guy......such as one of the linebackers spot? I know he was a backup Mike in Denver, and Ruud is clearly the Mike now, but do you think he could transition to an outside backer spot?

Pat Yasinskas: I wouldn't get your hopes up too high on this one. I'm pretty sure the Bucs view Niko Koutouvides as a special teams player and backup linebacker. I think your answers at outside linebacker will come from elsewhere.


Dustin in Coeur d'Alene, ID writes: Pat - love the blog. In regards to your comment that the Bucs will pursue Henderson or Washington for a down-field "burner" type threat, wouldn't they be able to stand pat with Dexter Jackson? When he came out of college, he was a return threat and a deep threat. Obviously with Gruden's "short only" passing game, he never got the chance at WR and of course he did not pan out as a returner right away. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bucs stay put with him as the deep threat and see what he can do. Gotta give a 2nd round choice a chance to prove himself more than Gruden allowed, right? What are your impressions?

Pat Yasinskas: Yes, you've got to give Dexter Jackson a chance in training camp with a new regime. But you can't count on anything for certain out of a guy who did nothing as a rookie. Maybe Jackson steps up and maybe he doesn't, but I still think the Bucs need to find a downfield receiver -- and the pool of those guys has dwindled since your note came in.


Tim in Fort Wayne, Ind. writes: You keep talking in your blogs about how the Bucs need a back to be paired up with ernest grahm but what is up with carnell williams do you think he will be anything like he was in college?

Pat Yasinskas: If Cadillac Williams comes back and is anything like what he was before two major knee injuries, the Bucs will be thrilled. But that's not something they can count on. That's why went out and got Derrick Ward to pair with Earnest Graham. Williams still has a long rehab ahead of him.


Casey in Phoenix writes: I'm sorry, but that news conference was pathetic. Raheem Morris does nothing to instill confidence in the Bucs fans. He seems so unprepared to answer questions from the press, as if the questions asked were too difficult for a High School football player. I don't even know that he comes close to answering the questions asked of him. How are the Glazer's impressed with this?

Pat Yasinskas: Living in the Tampa area, that's a sentiment I'm hearing from a lot of people. I think the Derrick Brooks situation could have been handled much better. I don't know if Raheem Morris is the right guy or not. But all we can do right now is wait and see how the rest of free agency plays out and how he fares next season. It will be interesting.