Paychecks Tell The Story

June 19th, 2017


It was the most memorable line from “All the President’s Men,” and it still holds true today for All the Glazers’ Men.

Follow the money.

In stockpiling impressive young talent after years of draft-day goofs, the Bucs appear poised to end a nine-year postseason drought that has tested the patience of even their most dedicated fans.

The best way to gauge the franchise’s progress is the number of current Bucs either already on second contracts or well on their way.

That’s how you can tell Tampa Bay is ready to start a new cycle. It helps to be active and smart in free agency, but the foundation must come from the draft.

Instead of selecting knuckleheads like Aqib Talib and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Bucs are selecting character guys who can play.

Instead of taking prospects who don’t love football — yes, I mean you, Da’Quan Bowers — the Bucs are adding dedicated players who work hard to improve.

Instead of choosing Mark Barron without a plan to maximize his skills, the Bucs are tailoring their game plans to the strengths of their personnel.

And in the process, they are laying out the cash.

Fat Checks = Smiles

“Our football people have never been told no because of money,” Joel Glazer told me a few years back. “Money will never be an issue when it comes to building this team the way we think it should be built. Looking at our history, when it was necessary to spend to keep people or get someone to put us over the top, we didn’t think twice about it.

“And we won’t think twice about it, ever. Money is not an issue and that perception is false. Sometimes, I feel that charge is a scapegoat. It’s the one easy, tangible thing people can grab onto. But I grab onto not drafting well for many years. That’s like a slow cancer that builds and grows and eventually takes over. That is a major source of our problems and that’s the problem that has to be corrected. You correct that problem and you start writing a lot of big checks. And you’re happy to do it, because that’s a good problem to have.”

In 1997, the Bucs began their six-year run as a perennial NFL power. They drafted well and kept core players like Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Mike Alstott from reaching free agency.

That same blueprint is now in place.

Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David have signed lavish second contracts with Tampa Bay — and there’s a conga line gathering behind them.

It won’t be long before Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith and Kwon Alexander will approach the end of their rookie deals.

“Big contracts come along with this formula,” Glazer said, “because if you get it right, you’ve got to pay big salaries … and we look forward to that.”

Taking Out The Trash

The number of premium picks wasted by the Bucs in the past decade is astounding.

Gaines Adams, Arron Sears, Sabby Piscitelli, Dexter Jackson, Brian Price, Arrelious Benn, Bowers, Barron, Johnthan Banks, Seferian-Jenkins … stop me when you find a Pro Bowler.

Stop me when you’re finished throwing up.

“We said we’re going to draft and develop, keep our own players and, over time, add free agents,” Glazer said. “When you’re building a house, you don’t buy the furniture first.”

This rebuild has taken longer than anyone imagined, including ownership. By the end of the 2008 season, even after two more division titles under Jon Gruden, the Glazers acknowledged the end of an era by changing coaches and ordering a veteran purge.

Just like that, Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Ike Hilliard and Joey Galloway were history. And history hasn’t been very kind to the franchise since that somber day.

Now the cycle begins anew with fresh cornerstones in place.

“The one thing we say as an organization is we have a plan and we’re going to stick with it,” Glazer said. “This is the type of plan that historically builds sustained success. We all lived it once in Tampa. We drafted well, we developed those players and we kept those players. That’s why we had a great run.”

Follow the money.

Ira Kaufman, the most beloved and esteemed columnist in town, has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira’s columns pop here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays.

17 Responses to “Paychecks Tell The Story”

  1. Bucsfanman Says:

    Well said Ira. The blueprint is to build your foundation through the draft. This team’s cupboard has been laid bare through poor drafting. I don’t care how good the coach is, you have to have talent to compete in this league.
    I like the direction the team is headed in.

  2. Maze Says:

    Follow The Damn Licht

  3. Wausa Says:

    Jason Licht is one of the top GM’s in the NFL and the Bucs are very lucky to have him.

    I think the Bucs have made some very shrewd moves that a lot of other franchises including our own Bucs wouldn’t have done in the past and its paying off because of the Glazers faith in Jason Licht.

    Bad franchises would not have made the move to fire Lovie and promote Dirk to the Head Coaching position

    Bad franchises would not have recognized the GM was putting the franchise in a position to improve while Lovie was taking the franchise down a path of perpetual inferiority.

    Bad franchises would not have cut ASJ

    Bad franchises do not admit their mistakes in free agency or the draft and move on or bring in competition.

    For the first time in over a decade our Bucs are not a bad franchise and have the potential to be an elite franchise for many years to come.

  4. mark2001 Says:

    My God Ira…did you have to list those names? They sent a chill up my spine. Talk about the real dirty dozen…wow. I’d almost buried those names into my subconscious. I believed you… you didn’t have to do that.

  5. Pickgrin Says:

    Awesome piece Ira. Your stellar writing really classes up the joint.

    I understand Joel’s take about the spending – but contend there is also some history revision going on with his account as well…

    In 2004 – just over 1 year removed from our SB win – the Buccaneers released future HOFers Warren Sapp and John Lynch. Tell me that wasn’t about the $ Joel. Starting that same year, the Buccaneers initiated a run of 8 straight years with THE LOWEST PAYROLL IN THE ENTIRE NFL. EIGHT STRAIGHT YEARS!!

    Yea – Gruden’s choice (Allen) and then yours (Dom) for GM both sucked at identifying and acquiring young talent. That’s 10 years of bad drafting. But the downfall of this team started with the miserly decision to release 2 HOFers who both had a good 4 years left in their tanks and snowballed from there…

    Just sayin. “You can stick out your chest, you can puff out your cheeks – but you can’t fool the guesser” (Steve Martin – The Jerk)

  6. Cannon Says:

    A similar analogy would be buying Buc’s Jerseys…

    Back in the halcyon days of Sapp, Brooks, and Co., we had a stalwart playerbase that the fan’s could get behind. These guys were the “team”. They had an identity. Jersey’s could be spotted everywhere with their names on them.

    Then came 2003 through 2015, and with it, a revolving door of botched free agents and draft day failures. Players came, and players went. The identity was lost.

    This made it exceptionally frustrating to buy a damn Bucs jersey.

  7. Jim Says:

    Emphasis on “character”. Good, and thanks, Ira…

  8. thespiritof76 Says:

    @ mark2001: To add insult to injury, many of those players did well in their first year. 2007 especially, was a year where many Bucs fans boasted about their haul.

    Sadly, it all fell apart for these players in year 2 and beyond…

  9. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    Clearly Licht has drafted dramatically better than any of his predecessors. Thanks to a couple of home run years Licht has sped up our rebuilding process by about one year IMHO.

    I expected the Bucs to compete for the playoffs and then perhaps one and done but at least get the experience this year. SB next year. Now I think we can do it this year. Gotta be lucky with injuries but that’s true for most teams.

    Getting #3..Donavan, Ali and Kwon all in one year was like having three successful drafts.

    Same thing this year with OJ…Evans…and Godwin…I have high hopes for McNichols and if Beckwith heals completely and reaches his potential we have another grand slam of a draft…and that doesn’t count Stevie T who may also be a hidden gem as a role playing run stuffer.

  10. Pick6 Says:

    round 2 has been a special form of torture for bucs fans since about the time of Arron Sears. all that raw athleticism, but very little of the other stuff you need to make it in the NFL.

    Between the selection of modest success Shaun King in 1999 and Marpet\Smith in 2015, i count only 3 decent starters and one stud over a 16 year span of second rounders: Dewayne White in 2003, Ruud in 2005, Trueblood in 2006, and Lavonte 2012

    that is how you build a loser

  11. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Yeah historically R2 has been bad. Light’s done much better so far:

    ASJ (bust)
    Donavon Smith (starter – hit)
    Ali Marpet (stud – hit)
    Noah Spence (starter and potential stud – hit)
    Roberto Aguayo (? – terrible pick regardless lol)

    So 3 very solid picks out of 5. Batting 50% in that round would be dramatic improvement for this franchise. If Justin Evans eventually becomes a solid starter in the next couple years then he’s at 67% or 4 for 6. I’ll take that all day and that’s assuming Aguayo never pans out

  12. Lamarcus Says:

    Get aaron Sears should not count.

  13. Buc4Lyfe79 Says:

    To be fair, Talib can play the role of baller on the field, just as well as he can play the role of jackass off the field.

  14. JonBuc Says:

    Great article, Ira. It’s a shame it took Talib so long to develop into an All-Pro and no longer a menace to society. I don’t consider him THAT bad of a draft pick…as it was either him or Mike Jenkins. 🙂

  15. GhostofTedford Says:

    postseason drought that has tested the patience of even their most dedicated fans.

    Another year of Lovie ball and I would have spent Sunday afternoons working in the yard.

  16. ATLBucsfan Says:

    Well done Ira. I agree that the Bucs are on the right path. You forgot to add Jason Licht to the fat paychecks down the road. While not all drafts are good ones, his have been well done with lots of talent and he should be compensated.

  17. Mike Johnson Says:

    Bucs are getting close. Just how close we shall see this season providing there is no let down. Still think we are a..few pass rushes and a couple linemen away though. Great article here IRA. keep’em comin.