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Saturday, October 31, 2009
Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

We'll start today's mailbags off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have a bye this weekend.

Chris in Harrisburg, Pa., writes: Pat, any news out of Tampa regarding the contract talks for Barret Ruud? The Bucs' organization simply isn't dumb enough to let their leading tackler walk will they?

Pat Yasinskas: There’s no real urgency to this. The Bucs still have Ruud locked up for another year. I think they want to keep Ruud, but there are several factors at work here. First, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the Collective Bargaining Agreement right now. There could be a new labor deal in place before next season or we may be looking at an uncapped year, which would have lots of implications across the entire NFL landscape. Second, I think the Bucs want to see a bit more out of Ruud as a player and a leader before they invest a fortune in him. Ruud was very good in Monte Kiffin’s scheme last year. I haven’t seen him do anything spectacular in Jim Bates’ system this year. Might be wise to make sure he truly is a great fit before locking him up.


Dave in Palmdale, Calif., writes: Pat, do you believe there's something to the story about the Glazers and their financial health? Maybe it is pure rumor, but certain moves seem to make it more believable. Getting rid of high-priced vets, Gruden (yes I know he's still being paid) and not taking some of that cap money they have available to bring in some proven talent? Is MANU really that much of a financial drain?

Pat Yasinskas: The rumors about that have been out there for a long time before this week’s flap really got going and forced the Glazers to issue a very strong statement that the team is not for sale. Rumors are rumors and there have been no concrete reports that the Glazers are having any financial trouble. I know it’s easy for fans to look at the fact the Bucs are $23 million under the salary cap and say the team is being cheap. But I think people who say that need to actually be able to back it up and not just say it. Fact is the Bucs started with $30 million more in cap space than most teams because they carried over cap money from last year. They also spent a bunch of money signing players like Kellen Winslow, Michael Clayton, Luke McCown and Derrick Ward to big contracts. Obviously, not all of those moves have worked out. The Bucs also may be saving some of that money to sign Ruud, left tackle Donald Penn and some other young players to contract extensions. Finally, I know it’s easy to look at all that cap room and imagine how the Bucs could have used it to bring in more high-priced free agents. But the fact is they decided to enter a rebuilding mode. They didn’t want to go with the patch-work approach of recent years and sign veteran free agents. They wanted to go with youth. Yes, so far it’s not looking too good. But I think people need to at least thing about some of the reasons behind all this before simply accusing the Bucs of being cheap.


Krutch in Dallas writes: Do you think any member of the Bucs front office or coaching staff are superstitious? The beginning of the Josh "Franchise QB" Freeman era will be in the Orange Creamsicle, winking Bucco Bruce throwbacks that represent almost 2 decades of ineptitude. If I were in a position to be making decisions, I'd mix up some other roster spots before throwing a 21-year old out there to get sacked and watch his receivers drop passes.

Pat Yasinskas: Ha! Good one. Just about everyone I know in the NFL has some sort of superstition and the Creamsicle colors weren’t always good to the Bucs. Freeman has to make his starting debut in orange against Green Bay on Nov. 8. But I don’t think the Bucs are too worried about superstitions or the past right now. It’s simply time to start finding out if their franchise quarterback can help them.