Commentary | Tampa Bay Bucs are stuck in gear or waiting to make a killing in free agency

adell@bradenton.comMarch 17, 2013 

TAMPA

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on a roller-coaster ride to points unknown.

Depending on how one views the landscape at One Buc Place, things have crashed to a standstill or Tampa Bay is about to make another climb.

Bucs GM Mark Dominik reached the pinnacle of good fortune by signing safety Dashon Goldson last week and then apparently fell asleep at the wheel.

NFL free agency is in one of its most bizarre states since the players won their freedom from the overlords 20 years ago in exchange for a salary cap.

This year's cap is too

low, agents argue, and that has caused the market value of players, such as those vaunted cornerbacks, to take a nosedive.

It's a buyer's market right now, and some are waiting it out for the price on certain players to drop even more.

It's a risk that could cost a team some valuable talent, which could prove devastating in the injury-heavy world of the NFL.

The Bucs lost defensive end Michael Bennett, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. His exodus cut short the celebration the Bucs held after signing the San Francisco 49ers' Goldson.

Quite a few knowledgeable people say making Goldson the highest-paid safety in the NFL ($8.25 million per year) is a mistake because he is not close to being the best safety and the position doesn't warrant that kind of money.

But Bucs head coach Greg Schiano is obsessed with tough guys, and Goldson fits that mold in his eyes, so show me the money.

Deion Sanders probably would've been cut by Schiano because of those "business decisions" he made when caught in the open field with an opponent carrying the football.

If the Bucs overpaid for Goldson, it wouldn't be the first time GM Mark Dominik recklessly threw his bosses' money around: See Eric Wright.

Paying too much for some players and letting others go because you are trying to do things on the cheap is not a good way to do business. It might be a reason Dominik hasn't made the playoffs and has had three losing seasons in four years as GM.

Allowing Bennett to walk for what is a mere pittance in free-agency dollars is inexcusable. If there was a communication breakdown, it's on the Bucs.

The word seeping out of One Buc Place was that Tampa Bay was concerned he was an injury risk.

That is probably more smokescreen than truth. They also let defensive tackle Roy Miller walk to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a pedestrian sum of money.

The Bucs' top priority is a couple of cornerbacks, and word is Dominik and Schiano don't see a whole lot of difference between the remaining free-agent corners, with the exception of Darrelle Revis. Now they need to shore up their defensive line again.

DRC gets fair deal

We are seeing that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie got about what the market is paying for top cornerbacks with the one-year, $5 million contract he signed with Denver.

The $10 million he originally sought was realistic, especially with the franchise tag hovering at that figure, but the market changed quickly.

All this has taken some of the muscle out of Revis' demands for $15 million a year. The Jets cornerback was the best at his position before ACL surgery and maybe still is, but it's risky to throw around that kind of money.

Jenkins to Indy?

Could DRC's decision not to sign with the Indianapolis Colts and go with the Denver Broncos open the door for his hometown buddy, Mike Jenkins?

Stranger things have happened.

Colts GM Ryan Grigson reportedly wanted to make a deal for Jenkins prior to last season, but Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones balked.

Now Grigson can scoop up Jenkins without dealing anything. The Colts picked up cornerback Vontae Davis from the Miami Dolphins for a second-round pick, and a healthy Jenkins would make a nice partner for Davis on the other side.

The Colts have $41.3 million in cap space, and if Jenkins' shoulder is not fully healed he is going to come even cheaper in a cornerback market that looks worse than the 1929 stock market crash.

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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