NFC South: Matt Cassell

TAMPA, Fla. -- Leslie Frazier came to speak with the media about the Buccaneers’ defense. He wound up fielding questions about the Minnesota Vikings’ offense.

It’s understandable. Frazier, Tampa Bay’s new defensive coordinator, was Minnesota’s head coach this past season and the Vikings were the landing spot for quarterback Josh Freeman after he was released by Tampa Bay. But Freeman appeared in only one game and the results were ugly.

A big part of the reason things didn’t work out for Freeman in Tampa Bay was because he repeatedly was late for meetings and team gatherings. That got him in former coach Greg Schiano’s doghouse. But Frazier said tardiness wasn’t an issue for Freeman in Minnesota

Still, Frazier had good things to say about Freeman.

“He worked as hard as he could every week to prepare and be ready to go,’’ Frazier said. “He was a pro in every sense of the word. But we made a decision to try to figure out where Christian Ponder was and also take a look at Matt Cassel because we were trying to determine and get some answers regarding our quarterback position. Josh got caught up in the shuffle. It probably wasn’t a fair situation for him. It made it difficult for him. It made it difficult for all of us when you’re trying to evaluate quarterbacks in an NFL season. That’s not a wise thing. Nothing to do with Josh. He prepared and worked as hard as he could to get on the field. It just didn’t work out.’’

When Frazier did get to talk about Tampa Bay’s defense, the most interesting thing he said was about how the team plans to use cornerback Darrelle Revis. Since the hiring of head coach Lovie Smith, there’s been some concern among fans that Revis’ talent could go to waste in Tampa 2 coverage.

But Smith has made it clear the Bucs won’t be using the Tampa 2 on every snap. Frazier echoed that and said the Bucs will play to Revis’ strengths, which would indicate a willingness to use him in man-to-man coverage.

“He’s a terrific player, without question,’’ Frazier said. “There’s always room in any system for great players. We’re going to do all we can to maximize his talents and utilize his gifts. He’s going to be one of the key guys to our success without question. We’ll do whatever we have to do to maximize his talents.’’

Mailbag: Special Cutler edition

April, 2, 2009

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

As we sometimes do here when one topic is dominating your thoughts, I've decided to do a special edition of the mailbag.

This one is dedicated entirely to Jay Cutler. Will he end up with the Bucs? The Panthers? Or somewhere else? We'll take a look at the Cutler situation from several angles.

Martin in Tampa, FL writes: I have a question I have yet to see asked...why did the Bucs proposed trade fail? Denver would have gotten the QB they wanted in Matt Cassell, instead of being forced to trade Cutler a month before the draft, Patriots would have received a 1st round pick (as opposed to the 2nd rounder they got from KC) and obviously the Bucs would have landed Cutler. My only guess would be the Pats were reluctant to trade Cassell to another top contender in the AFC. Your thoughts?

Pat Yasinskas: As I understand it -- and this is based mostly on what's come out of the Patriots about how the Matt Cassel deal with Kansas City came down -- the Bucs jumped into the Cutler talks at a very late stage. There's also some discrepancy over whether they actually made an offer or just an inquiry. I don't know for sure. But all indications are the Patriots and Chiefs already had the deal finished are were very close to that. Maybe they're covering their own tails, but the Patriots have made it sound like they never truly had a firm offer from the Bucs.

Frank in plantation writes: Pat, Why havent the bucs pulled the trigger on the cutler deal? If its 2 first rounders they want why havent the bucs given them up yet?

Pat Yasinskas: All indications are the Broncos want more than two first-round picks -- maybe something like two first-round picks and a second- or third-round choice. That's a very high price tag and that's why I think Tampa Bay is a very long shot to land Cutler. The Bucs have a first-round pick this year (No. 19 overall) and next year. But they don't have a second-round pick this year because they traded it for Kellen Winslow. I think there are some other teams out there with more to offer. If the Bucs really want to make this happen, Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik essentially will have to mortgage the future of the franchise. Not sure they're ready to do that because they've got plenty of needs to fill in other places.

Chance in Evanston writes: Pat, i have a question that hasn't really been addressed. What would it take for the Bucs to trade for Quinn/Anderson and Rogers. I mean for Cutler we are talking alot of high picks. Why not fill two needs at once with those same high picks? In my opinion either Quinn or Anderson will make a good Qb with the O-line and running game we have in place and Rogers fills a huge need on the D-line. I'm i way off or would this make sense to you to?

Pat Yasinskas: No, I don't think you're way off at all. In fact, I think the Bucs would be better off trying to trade for Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson than they would be trading for Cutler. The price tag wouldn't be nearly as high. Trying to get Shaun Rogers in a deal with one of those quarterbacks also makes a lot of sense because defensive tackle is probably Tampa Bay's biggest need. Not sure what they exact price tag would be on a deal like that and I have no indication the Bucs have even talked to the Browns. But I think it's safe to say it would cost less than two first-round picks.

Will in parts unknown writes: Is there any chance that Jay Cutler could be traded to the Panthers for Julius Peppers and our 59th selection in the second round?

Pat Yasinskas: I don't see it happening. The Broncos need to come out of this with a quarterback. That means that even if Julius Peppers were part of a deal, Denver still would need a first-round pick to get a quarterback. The Panthers don't have a first-round pick in this year's draft to offer. Besides, I just don't think the Panthers are really interested in Cutler. Not saying I agree with that thinking, but I'm just saying I have a tough time seeing John Fox and Marty Hurney making a deal like this.

JM in Charlotte writes: Between the bucs and the Panthers, who's more likely to land Cutler?

Pat Yasinskas: I'd say the Bucs. But I still think they're a long shot. The Panthers are an even longer shot. I'm thinking Cutler lands somewhere outside the NFC South.