Commentary | Buccaneers make safety Dashon Goldson $8M man; will it pay off?

adell@bradenton.comMarch 14, 2013 


When Dashon Goldson was a kid, his mother gave him $100 for his birthday. What he did with that money would earn him a spot in Greg Schiano's heart, though it would be more than a decade before they would meet.

Goldson took that money, sneaked out of the house and signed himself up for youth football because his mother was against him playing.

When Mom finally found out, Dashon was already entrenched with a team. She let it go.

You might say no $100 was ever put to better use.

The former San Francisco 49er signed a five-year, $41.25 million contract, with $22 million guaranteed, to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday. He will receive $8.25 million per year, which is the going rate for top-flight safeties.

"We are looking for guys who love to play football," said Jersey-bred Schiano, sounding as if he was going to send Goldson out on one of those Tony Soprano assignments.

Goldson's presence allows Mark Barron to play strong safety, which will compensate for his pass-coverage deficiencies, though Schiano slyly says the two players are interchangeable.

Coming off his rookie season, Barron was dubbed "The Assassin" for his hard hits. His pass coverage could've earned him the nickname "Phantom" because he looked lost many times.

The Bucs say Goldson

is good at hitting and covering, which would enable him to play free safety and give Barron more of role in run support.

"I think we'll fit together very well," Goldson said. "I was taking a look at this style of play on film, and I think we'll complement each other back here. I was fortunate to play with (safety) Donte Whitner and a couple of guys, Michael Lewis, guys like this, but he's a young stud. I think we can definitely help mold him into the kind of guy he wants to be."

This is not a slam dunk, and there are some who argue Bucs GM Mark Dominik overspent again.

Bucs Nation is celebrating, but those stat geeks over at Pro Football Focus see things differently.

Nobody breaks down stats better than PFF, and they have Goldson as the 20th-best safety in the NFL, though he finished 10th in their coverage-safety rankings.

"A good player, but worth over $8m per year? In our eyes the answer is most definitely not. The Bucs, who have a habit of investing big money in positions you wouldn't normally invest big money in, have done it again," PFF writes.

There is another consideration: At San Francisco, Goldson was playing with two first-team All-Pro linebackers in Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis, plus NaVorro Bowman, who was a second teamer.

It was the best linebacking corps in the NFL and made his job a lot easier, along with Whitner, who was a Pro Bowler. Goldson won't be surrounded by that kind of talent at Tampa Bay, and you don't know how that is going to affect his production.

Goldson recorded 69 total tackles, 11 pass deflections and three interceptions in 2012.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has some of those Roger Goodell letters that might have earned him a badge of courage in Schiano's eyes.

Last season, Goldson was fined $7,875 for taunting in a game against Seattle and later fined $77,500 for uniform violations and a helmet-to-helmet collision with Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

"I don't play timid. I think they were clean hits. I am just trying to play football and help my team get a W," Goldson said.

Schiano said Goldson and Barron are versatile enough to play free and strong safety.

"Depending on which formation it is, guys do both things," Schiano said. "I've watched both of these guys do both of those (jobs) well. That's why we as a coaching staff we really feel comfortable that we can do a lot of different things with these guys."

Bucs fans should feel good, but proceed with caution; don't quit your job believing you can feed your family by scalping playoff tickets next season.

Goldson will help, but he is not a savior and won't have the supporting cast that he played with in San Francisco.

The Bucs need two cornerbacks and a pass rusher who can apply pressure. If they don't get that, there won't be much improvement.

Domink says there is a lot more to come and those Darrelle Revis rumors out there are getting the fan base antsy. If Revis comes to town, then maybe you can think about quitting your job.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports and listen to him talk about his column and other sports on "Out of Bounds" every Tuesday and Thursday between 8 and 10 p.m. on WTMY 1280-AM.

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