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Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the third stop on our tour of team-by-team mailbags.

Brian in Oklahoma writes: Hi Pat was just wondering if it was true that Mark Dominik is the only one running the front office at the moment? If so I can understand why some of our big fish were never reeled in, good grief give the guy some help!

Pat Yasinskas: Scott Reynolds of PewterReport.com did a fine piece recently in which he detailed how the current structure of the front office may have caused the Bucs some problems at the start of free agency. Basically, the Bucs went from a system last year where Bruce Allen, Dominik and Kevin Demoff each had the power to negotiate a contract. Allen and Demoff are gone and that leaves Dominik as the only one who can negotiate a contract. At the start of free agency, Dominik had an awful lot on his plate. Personnel executive Doug Williams, scouts and assistant coaches were making calls to free agents, but, according to Reynolds, they didn't have the authority to talk money and that may have cost them some free agents. Dominik has been around the league a long time and I'm certain he's going to be a very good general manager. I suspect one lesson he's learned already is the importance of delegating authority and I think he'll do more of that going forward.


Jeff in Land O Lakes, FL writes: Hi Pat, I'm a little confused by the Bucs signing of Mike Nugent. Not a lot, but a little. In terms of 'production', as Mark Dominik explained it in their approach, Bryant seems as good as or better than Nugent on paper. Has Bryant given the Bucs any indication that he doesn't WANT to play this season? Or has his leg lost a little juice? I don't have the stat, but it seems he didn't record many touchbacks last season. But he fought through some incredibly tough personal trials last year and still produced very well. Are they thinking they can deal one of their two good kickers at draft day? If they just wanted to create a little healthy competition, a 22-year-old leg with lots of gas in the tank could have done the job in the 7th round of the draft. Any thoughts? Thanks - and keep up the great work!

Pat Yasinskas: I was as confused as you were by the Mike Nugent signing. The Bucs already have a very good kicker in Matt Bryant. The company line is that the Bucs just want to have competition at every position. But a veteran like Bryant shouldn't really need competition. We'll see how it plays out in training camp. But, one thing to keep in mind is that Bryant is making good money and Nugent is not. If the two are relatively equal in camp, the Bucs may elect to go with Nugent and free up Bryant's salary for something else.


Rich in Fort Myers, FL writes: Pat, I noticed you've mentioned the Cutler saga might not be over a few times. Is there any indications Tampa is working behind the scene on getting a deal done?

Pat Yasinskas: No, that's just my theory and I'm not saying anything will happen with Jay Cutler. I'm just saying I think there's a remote chance something still could happen with Cutler. The Broncos have come out and said they're not trading him and that may well be true. But there's also supposed to be a meeting between Cutler and the Broncos' brass. It was supposed to be this week. But the word now is it's been pushed back indefinitely. I'm just saying Cutler had his feelings hurt because he was the subject of trade talks. There's no guarantee that meeting will soothe his feelings. Maybe things get even worse when the two sides meet and maybe this thing can't be repaired. Again, just a theory. Even if nothing happens with Cutler, the Bucs are going to sign a free-agent quarterback, trade for a quarterback or get one in the draft.


Steve in Ontario, California writes: Hi Pat, None of the pay to read blogs can touch your understanding and effort. I am impressed. How come the Bucs folded last season?

Pat Yasinskas: Thanks for the kind words. I think Tampa Bay's collapse was due to a variety of circumstances. Some guys got old before our eyes and younger guys didn't step up. Some guys, particularly defensive tackles Chris Hovan and Jovan Haye, got banged up and that had a trickle-down effect on the entire defense. Jon Gruden got the Bucs to 9-3 using a lot of smoke and mirrors and the rest of the league caught on and Gruden didn't adjust. There also was the rocky relationship between Gruden and quarterback Jeff Garcia and that impact went beyond Garcia. I also thought Gruden made a huge mistake when he started Brian Griese over Luke McCown when Garcia was hurt late in the season. McCown had worked as the backup all year and going with Griese was an act of desperation. In summary, the Bucs weren't all that talented and they had a lot of problems behind the scenes. They were able to get by for the first three quarters of the season, but it all caught up to them.