The QB Blast: Sitting Out Free Agency A Gamble

March 9th, 2010

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson


Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes the weekly QB Blast column here at Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback

I have a 12 year old son stepping up in competition next season. He is moving from the tackle football program at Idlewild Baptist Church to the South Pasco Predators in Land O Lakes. I have volunteered and have been accepted as the head coach of the 11, 12 and 13 year old Junior Midget team.

Of course, I want to be a role model and example for the young men that I will be in charge of and give them a positive experience…..yada, yada, yada. Do I want to win every game we play? Oh yeah! 

I train quarterbacks all year long on the proper fundamentals and techniques of throwing the football, and we talk about both offensive and defensive strategies, but I don’t need to worry about all the aspects of what it takes to actually win a football game.

Now, as a head coach, I will be drawing up my ideas of the best way to win a football game and realize more than ever, no matter what I draw up on paper, it won’t matter much unless the horses show up.

This is especially true on defense, because if we can’t stop the other team, our offense must be perfect and that’s a tall order for any team.

Offensively, there is still room for imagination, even at the pro level. The Wildcat, Run-and-Shoot, shovel passes and empty packages are all relatively young concepts. Some have already gone away, some are yet to be designed, but more will come.

I will bring a few new concepts to the little league level to try and win games no matter what players show up the first day. The Bucs, on the other hand, have a roster and know what players are going to show up. They are busy now and for another six months designing up offensive and defensive strategies that they think will be successful for them next season.

In the NFL, the salary cap is supposed to act as the ultimate equalizer, giving everyone the equal chance to spend the same amount of money on the available talent. It has worked to give more teams opportunities to compete on the field and give more teams hope later in the season.

The draft is designed to give the bottom finishers a chance to gain better talent to more successfully compete. The draft system didn’t help teams like the Bucs, Bengals, Bills, Cardinals, Lions, Falcons or Saints for many years, but is being pointed to as the model for success, based on teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Bucs’ one successful run to the title came with significant contributions from free agents Brad Johnson, Joe Jurevicius, Michael Pittman, Keenan McCardell, as well as others and even Keyshawn Johnson’s expensive trade.

The growing labor dispute is throwing a bit of a chink in the system that has been with us since I retired from the game, more than 15 years now.

But, the Bucs are telling us that the model for success on the field is through the acquisition of kids out of college, not the players that have found success at the NFL level and are on the open market. 

I’m not saying there aren’t teams that have done better jobs building their own talent than filling holes with veterans than other teams. But with the holes that I would think most of us would agree the Bucs have on both sides of the ball, finding guys that can immediately contribute, would seem to be of pretty high importance. Especially since there are fewer paying folks showing up on Sundays and fewer discretionary dollars for most of us.

It will take some real signs of hope for immediate improvement for those dollars of “joe bucs fan” types (not a stereotype, just a good descriptive name) to be gambled on only the Bucs’ draft picks.

I will have to hope for the best and wait to see who shows up for my little league team in July.  The Bucs will have to wait to see who is available before each pick during April’s draft, which is a much bigger gamble than paying players that have already competed at the top level, when improving next season is of top priority.

7 Responses to “The QB Blast: Sitting Out Free Agency A Gamble”

  1. Sander Says:

    The core of the Super Bowl team was built through the draft, not free agency. Free agency was used to complement the core of the team, not to be the core of the team. It’s hard to argue that the core of the team wasn’t the defense with draft picks like Sapp, Brooks, Lynch and Barber.

    Free agency can be used to complement a team, and every once in a while a key player can be picked up in free agency. But you can’t build a consistent contender on just free agency.

    And more specifically, this is very true for this year’s free agency class. Due to the CBA, there are many fewer unrestricted free agents, and all of them are old and won’t be able to contribute with any team for more than a few seasons. The restricted free agents, on the other hand, all cost valuable draft picks – draft picks that are even more valuable this year because the draft class is so deep due to many more juniors coming out.

  2. RahDomDaBest Says:

    He is not saying JUST SIGN free agents and noty draft anyone… all teams still will draft players… well except for Chicago… the draft is a given.

    What he is saying is that you need to also add free agents when possible to help provide quality talent onthe field. Otherwise, yu put all your eggs in one basket, and HOPE in several years that the drafted rookies will pan out… that the young players will be able to compete against the rest of the NFL teams. And young players alone can’t compete alone. Which will equal losing. Which will equal a team lacking in confidence. Which stunts players growth. Which makes players “test” free agency. Whuch makes players leave. Which turns you organization INTO A FARM LEAGUE FOR THE REST OF THE NFL.

    Just like the Buccaneers used to be.

  3. Louie Says:

    As Jeff points out, free agency has proven to be a valuable tool to help teams be competitive or even win Superbowls. Before everyone jumps on that statement, I’m not saying free agency is the primary tool to build a team. That’s not possible from an economic standpoint.

    Years ago, when there really was no free agency, the only way teams could improve was via the draft. The only way to get players from other teams was via trades. If a team didn’t draft well year after year, they were perpetual losers. New head coaches would talk about a 5 year plan to build a winner.

    When the NFL adopted true free agency, it became possible to build a winner more quickly. So, why would the Bucs say they aren’t going to use a valuable tool that will accelerate the process to winning? Why prolong the losing?

    From some of the posts I’ve read, some people are saying free agency should only be used if the Bucs need 1 or 2 players to get to the playoffs or Superbowl. I say that’s bull. Free agents are necessary for a young team like the Bucs to provide players who have leadership, good work ethic and most importantly, playmakers.

    Jeff, thanks again for the insightful and thought-provoking article!

  4. Radio Mushmouth Says:

    We don’t need any free agents . We have Reggie Brown.


  5. RastaMon Says:

    Jeff you seem like a nice guy…actually I am sure you are a nice guy… word of Warning…..
    and you thought you knew cruel…..
    good luck dude !

  6. Jeff Carlson Says:

    RahDomDaBest and Louie: Thanks for saving me the time of writing the column again. Good job.
    RastaMon: Thanks for the heads up! I haven’t had any trouble with parents coaching various sports through the years, but I have come close with some opposing coaches over a few issues.

  7. Nick Says:

    Thanks Jeff i called our local paper in Tampa today to tell the sports editor to get off their butts and start calling out the Glazers for what will soon be a disaster unless some philosophies change. How convenient that this new course of strategy is to get rid of any expensive talent (except Clayton) no matter how good they are. The cutting of Antonio Bryant to me was the last straw. We have now officially hindered Josh Freemans development and we replace him with Reggie Brown?? We now have NO deep threat unless Brown has a 40 time I am unaware of or we find another Dexter Jackson (sorry I had to throw that in because Dominick was in the draft room for that one) in the draft. I like Raheem as a person but he is taking marching orders from the Glazers and talent is not what we are looking for obviously in 2010. Well maybe marginal talent at bargain basement prices. Mark Dominick will never be confused as a master GM and thats what we would need both in the draft and finding good inexpensive free agents. He is way over his head now and his firm stance that we will not contact restricted free agents is complete stupidity. Dear Glazers please sell the Bucs to someone who cares about the fans. Now you are not even making good business decisions as no matter who you draft the fans will be disgusted by the lack of talent especially at WR. I am a sad sad Buc fan and its only getting worse. Thanks Jeff for speaking the truth when only this website has the guts in Tampa to tell it like it is.