THE OPTIMIST: Rosy 2011 Without Free Agents

January 17th, 2011

THE OPTIMIST says paying out the nose for a free agent like the Bears did for Julius Peppers could be catastrophic for the Bucs.

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also wants you to know THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

Let’s hope Bucs fans don’t have complete amnesia after this successful 2010 season. I’m concerned by the grumblings I’m hearing/reading about the front office’s recent comments regarding free agents in 2011. As in, there won’t be many, if any at all.

How anyone can find fault in that is beyond me, given what we learned about our team this past season.

The Bucs came out in the 2010 offseason and said straight up: We will NOT be getting expensive free agents this season. Instead the Bucs picked up players via the draft and other formats, and struck gold with them.

They didn’t do that as a stop-gap measure, they did it as a pattern of things to come. And we should be fine with that as the results were nothing but miraculous. Practice squad players like Frank Okam, Al Woods, LeGarrette Blount, and others.

The draft is now two years deep full of talent, and there is no reason to believe that’s going to be any different in 2011’s selection tool.

High priced free agents are fools gold. They sound like they woud get rid of all of your troubles, but the problem is on a team like the Bucs all they would do is take away valuable playing time from a younger up-and-coming player. And that young guy more than likely would be here for a decade as opposed to a free agent who will probably be signing a new contract in a few years.

Sometimes they help, but what the Bucs have going on right now, expensive free agents would just ruin that.

Besides, go over the list of 2010 Free agents, notice their contributions don’t really add up anywhere near to the totals they signed for? Yes, this year’s list is more impressive, but the Bucs havn’t finished putting their foundation together yet. Once they do, I’m sure that’s when they will make a little more of a splash into the pool.

Just don’t expect a Belly-Flop!

27 Responses to “THE OPTIMIST: Rosy 2011 Without Free Agents”

  1. Gary Says:

    We aren’t expecting a belly-flop, or a cannonball… but can we atleast stick a finger in the damn FA pool?!?!

    This young talent argument works everywhere except MLB. Starting a rookie MLB will take our D back a few notches.

    Grab the best DE and LB in FA available in our price/value range (obviously will mean no major FA’s) and combine that will a DE and LB we got in the draft and lets roll!

  2. Capt.Tim Says:

    As always, Nick, love reading your post. You always bring the common sense element to the teams transactions. One point I disagree on. Some positions take years to excell at. Really, I’m talking about D-Line. More than any other spot, D-Linemen take 2-4 years to really show their skills. You see teams give up on DT and DEs, just to see them “bloom” with their next team. Draft a DE, but Freeman is ready to start his playoff run NOW. Bring in a Ray Edwards, who is an effective pass rusher now.
    Of course, this is probably a mute point. I think we have our DEs. Crowder,Bennett,and even Magee showed that they have the Speed, Power, and agility to play the position. What they lacked was the technique. PRt if that might be blamed On Todd Wash. But I think mostly it is experience. Again, it takes several years to suceed on the D–Line. I expect major improvements in all our Young DEs next year. Obviously our DTs too!
    Don’t get me wrong, I still think we need a premier talent DE. But as a Rookie, he’s a few years out.sign a DE who is rocking now. Then hopefully our young guys, with better coaching, will surprise everyone

  3. Dave Says:

    GARY: just say no.

    Big name free agents flop WAAAAY more than they succeed. No reason for it.

    I am not against signing Ray Edwards De from the Vikings however. He is a very good pass rusher and only 26. Pair him with a DE they draft.

  4. nick Says:

    Is ray edward really that good? He did have the williams wall and jared allen on the line with him

  5. sunrisejeff Says:

    He’s not a dominant pass rusher but he is a GOOD pass rusher as well as playing the run well. Definetly an upgrade to what is currently on the roster.

  6. Travis Says:

    Ray Edwards is good, but there are better options noone ever mentions…
    how about the best pass rusher in the league not named DeMarcus Ware? Tamba Hali, after that there are other quality targets… Mathias Kiwanuka, Kamerion Wimbley, & Charles Johnson. All are better than Ray Edwards

  7. Dave Says:


    Good point. I didn’t really look at the free agent list. I just know that Edwards is a young guy, good at rushing the passer and good against the run.

    If those guys you mention are free agents, then you are right, they are all just as young and better.

    Either way ANY of them would be an upgrade. I hope they draft a DE 1st and sign one of these guys.

  8. Derf Says:

    There isn’t going to be a 2011 season ANYWAY!

    Free Agents coming to Tampa? NO WAY. The reputation of the tight fisted Glazer Boys is what will keep agents from pimping their clients.

    Meanwhile next year our kids will get LOTS of experience and we’ll have some new rookies to throw in the mix as well.

    Unfortunately after watching Atlanta get whomped and New Orleans getting stompped I guess the NFC South just had an easy schedule after all didn’t we?

  9. Travis Says:


    New Orleans getting Stomped? you mean the same New Orleans team that beat the same Seattle team in week 11 34-19?

    Or the same Atlanta team that beat the same Packer team 20-17 in week 11?

    The fact of the matter is Seattle played their best game of their season, give them credit, they played great. New Orleans played bad.

    Atlanta played terrible and the Packers had their best game of the season.

    Nothing more, nothing less

  10. JayBuc Says:

    Dear Mr. Dominik,


  11. espo Says:

    I vote we draft a DE or 2 and also rotate our DTs along with Quincy Black. I really like the thought of Okam and Mccoy in the middle with Price, Miller, Black, and whoever we draft taking turns outside. Sure we’ll lose some speed (except for Quincy) but look at how well our faster, lanky ends have fared recently; Gaines Adams/Tim Crowder.

  12. gitarlvr Says:

    Yeah signing Julius Peppers is really hurting the Bears right now. Either that or it is exactly what helped put that defense over the top to make a Super Bowl run that is now at the NFC championship game as we speak.

  13. gitarlvr Says:

    Travis- people talk about Ray Edwards for a reason. He is the guy who is pretty unlikely to resign with his own team. The Panthers are like the one team who has a payroll as low as the Bucs and unless Charles Johnson just doesn’t want to be there the Panthers will pay whatever it takes to resign him. Tamba Hali is not a better DE than Ray Edwards. Tamba Hali was a total bust as a DE. He is a great pass rusher now that he plays outside linebacker but he is totally one dimensional and has no pass coverage ability. He would not fit the Bucs scheme at either position. Kamerion Wimbley is also an outside linebacker. The reason no one is talking about Wimbley or Hali is because we ARE talking about Lamarr Woodley who is the better linebacker of those three. The fact is that Edwards is the best free agent DE that is worth speculating about at this time considering the fact that the Vikings almost assuredly can’t resign him if some team like the Bucs makes him a big offer.

  14. gitarlvr Says:

    Kiwanuka could possibly end up being available too though. Cullen Jenkins of the Packers too.

  15. gitarlvr Says:

    Just looked it up and Kiwanuka only had 3 sacks in 2009. 2010 he was hurt most of the year. Its hard to want to sign a guy who only had 3 sacks his last full year. He had 8 sacks one year and that was the most he’s had. Edwards has had 8 the last two years in a row and is still on the upswing. I think its safe to say Edwards has the more upside over Kiwanuka at this point.

  16. Joe Says:


    Cullen Jenkins plays in a 34 defense. If you’re going to dream, be reasonable dude. 🙂

  17. Capt.Tim Says:

    Didn’t Hardy Nickerson play in a 3-4 prior to us signing him?

  18. gitarlvr Says:

    Yes he did Capt. Tim. Just because guys play in a 3-4 doesn’t mean they don’t know what the 4-3 is all about. The majority of guys playing in 3-4 defenses in the NFL played in the 4-3 in college. The fact is that the NFL is rapidly moving away from the 4-3 defense. The Bucs have already done so. The Bucs are using 3-3-5 as their nickel D more than Cover 2. In case anyone doesn’t know the 3-3-5 is the nickel version of the 3-4 defense. At 305 lbs. Cullen Jenkins isn’t too big and slow to play 4-3 defensive end. Our own Alex Magee would be a good comparison to him. Besides I wasnt recommending Cullen Jenkins. Certainly not over Ray Edwards. But the fact is people need to stop looking at players from 3-4 defenses and thinking the Bucs play some polar opposite scheme. Not anymore folks. That 3 man front is here to stay in Tampa.

  19. Travis Says:


    Hali is not a bust as a DE, he played it @ Penn State where he was 1st team All American, and living in KC i see as many Chief games as Buc games, i wount say 1/2, but 1/3 of his sacks this year came with his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 front. Hali is stud either way you put it.

    Same thing goes for Wimbley, i cant say what of his sacks came with his hand in the dirt, but when he played in Cleveland he was an underated DE causing alot of hurries when not getting sacked, and always playing the run well.

  20. gitarlvr Says:

    If thats the case Travis I have no problem with the Bucs pursuing 3-4 outside linebackers tweeners who can play DE in the base 4-3. I do know that Hali is still considered poor at pretty much everything other than pass rushing. Thats why I like Lamarr Woodley so much. He can do everything. He can stuff the run\rush the passer with his hand in the dirt. He can stuff the run\rush the passer standing up as a linebacker. And he is about as good in pass coverage as a 265lb. man can possibly be. I don’t know anything about Wimbley but I will agree with you that 3-4 OLB tweeners can easily be adapted to Raheem’s scheme. I am in the midst of having that argument with Joe that guys like that cant fit in Raheems scheme. Im glad someone else besides me thinks the Bucs should at least be considering the possibility of signing a massive pass rushing 3-4 type linebacker.

  21. MichiganBucsFan Says:

    I don’t buy this article. I agree what they’ve done has worked so far and like the direction of the team. That being said, that doesn’t mean free agency won’t work also. The key is finding the balance of both

  22. gotbbucs Says:

    gitarlvr, I’m interested to know what you think the Bucs are going to run for a base defense? 3-4 or 4-3?
    You talk constantly about the 3-3-5 and the 3-4, but this team still ran their base 4-3 probably at least 80% of the time. When they did run the 3-3-5 it was pretty much a disaster as far as I could tell.
    Look, I know you love Lamarr Woodley. He’s a good player, but their not going to switch the entire identity of this teams defense to sign one high dollar free agent. Come to think of it, you love Ray Edwards too, but he’s a 4-3 DE, so now I’m confused.

  23. Capt.Tim Says:

    Gotbucs- I bet they played a 4-3 less than 20% of the time. Sometimes they lined up initially in a 4-3, but White dropped into coverage.

  24. Travis Says:

    Woodley is no doubt #1 on my free agent wish list, but im sure alot of teams will pursue him. David Harris is #2. If we can get 1 of these guys it will greatly help the defense and fill 1 hole that the draft wont need to address with a high pick.

  25. gotbbucs Says:

    capt. tim, when they dropped white or any other d-lineman, those were usually zone dog blitzes. i still consider that a 4-3. thats exactly what jim johnson used to do in phily, and im guessing thats the style of defense morris is going for.

  26. Capt.Tim Says:

    GotBucs-check out Steve Whites Break downs of our Defense. He’s a former Buc,who thru out the season did in depth breakdowns on our defense. He’s frequently had post here at our Beloved JoeBuc. He also pointed out that our Primary Base defense was a 3-3-5. It was an intelligent way to play to the defense’s strength. With 2 rookie DT, and a 1st year DE, that defense was soft against the run( would have been anyway we played), but ferocious against the pass. I suspect that we will drift to a more traditional 3-4 as our young DT begin to grow into their jobs. But if you look at Powell, McGee, and Worthington, you can see that we are acquiring larger DEs, which is typical of a 3-4, not a 4-3. Last year’s formation was a matter of hiding defiencies inheriant in playing multiple rookies on the D-Line. I think this year we get a good look at the real Tampa 2.1. And I think it’s gonna be a 3-4

  27. niko (The Optimist) Says:

    Derf, the only reputation the Glazers have of being tight fisted is an imaginary one that only exists in this area among misinformed fans.

    The Glazers only two years ago threw the dough at the best TIght end, best Running back, and best place kicker on the market. They also spent a lot of money to resign Michael Clayton (25 Million)l The problem was Derrick Ward, Mike Nuggent and Clayton did not work out.

    Given those facts, its no wonder the Glazers are gun shy about spending big bucks again in free agency.

    the “Glazers dont spend money on Free Agents” is a myth ive disproved many times on

    Bucs front office spends money renewing contracts of their own free agents that make up their core group of players. Its been half a decade now since we’ve had a core like that : IE Sapp, Lynch, Brooks, Rice, Alstott, etc. Now that a new group of Bucs players has been established, Williams, Benn, Blount, Freeman, Etc, those guys will make up the bulk of the salary cap when it is restored.

    Once this CBA is done, youll see more money spent.

    This is a LEAGUE WIDE thing too, its not just the Bucs that are watching the wallet until the CBA is redone.