Arrivals Or Departures

February 28th, 2022

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Almost 50 years have passed and we can still recall that final scene in “Magnum Force” when Clint Eastwood gazed into the camera as Dirty Harry and uttered his immortal line: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

So do NFL franchises.

Every team’s fortunes have an arc that fluctuates with the talent on the roster and the man under center. From 1997-2002, the Bucs were playoff perennials because of a dominating defense led by Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch and Rondé Barber. Simeon Rice was added in 2001 and Tampa Bay would soon hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

But Sapp and Lynch would soon depart and Rice hurt his shoulder in 2006, effectively ending his career. By the close of the 2008 season, the Glazers had seen enough.

Tampa Bay fell apart in December, leading to the dismissal of Jon Gruden. Brooks was beginning to look his age and Jeff Garcia was 38.

Brooks was one of seven members of the 2008 Bucs with at least 10 years of NFL experience. The only one to survive a veteran purge was Barber as Brooks, Kevin Carter, Warrick Dunn, Joey Galloway, Brian Griese and Ike Hilliard would not return, along with Garcia. Matt Bryant was released on the brink of the next season.

Team Glazer must chart a course, writes Ira Kaufman.

Flash forward to today and the Glazers are grappling with the same critical question: can we compete for a championship or does it make more sense to start over?

The Bad Ol’ Days

It’s easy to forget that before Tom Brady arrived, this was a rather irrelevant franchise on the national scale. The Bucs were granted a prime-time appearance only because every team must be showcased at least once.

Brady’s presence changed everything and Tampa Bay went 29-10 in the past two seasons. Now Brady’s retirement has forced the owners and the front office to face hard decisions.

You go nowhere in today’s NFL without a solid quarterback. The newly crowned champions went all-in for Matt Stafford and we just saw the results. At the moment, Bruce Arians, Jason Licht and the Glazers all have no idea who will be under center in Week 1 this fall.

It could be Blaine Gabbert, it could be Kyle Trask or it could be the unidentified gentleman behind Door No. 2. But if the cavalry isn’t coming in the form of a veteran quarterback acquired through trade or free agency, there’s a chance the Bucs decide to go young.

And that would mean there’s no reason to re-sign Rob Gronkowski, Ryan Jensen, Steve McLendon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Richard Sherman, Ryan Succop, Ndamukong Suh or Will Gholston.

Make way for the kids.

Let’s see what Robert Hainsey can do at center. Let’s draft a tight end. Let’s give Joe Tryon-Shoyinka 75 percent of the snaps off the edge, rather than 49 percent. Let’s make Ke’Shawn Vaughn the lead back. Let’s take a long look at Rakeem Nuñez-Roches as a starter next to Vita Vea. Let’s find our kicker for the next decade.

Upside, If Necessary

Only a year removed from a championship boat parade, Buc fans understandably don’t want to contemplate a rebuilding plan. But a team must know its limitations and a club led by Gabbert or Trask doesn’t figure to have a realistic chance to make any noise in January.

Second-year QB Kyle Trask

And while it’s true the rest of the NFC South is in disarray, the Bucs sit at a franchise crossroads themselves.

If they can swing a deal for Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson, the calculus changes dramatically.

But if they are looking at starting Gabbert or Trask, taking a step back can have its advantages.

The Glazers have signed off on a rebuild before. You think it was easy saying goodbye to Brooks, arguably the best player to ever wear a Buc jersey? He wanted to keep playing, but instead he was crudely shown the door at One Buc Place.

Within a month, we should know which way that door is swinging — arrivals or departures.

32 Responses to “Arrivals Or Departures”

  1. jvato24 Says:

    I don’t understand the tear it down and rebuild concept, how well did those Bucs do after releasing Brooks?? I get not keeping the guys in their late 30s, Will Gholston is a role player that is affordable. Why not keep the team strong and in a position to only need a QB next season?? I imagine Suh, McLendon and those guys are done, but retain top players, if the Bucs struggle, they will have a great core, a high pick and more cap space next season and possibly only need a decent QB to be effective

  2. Dick LeBeau Jr. Says:

    We can still bring in some “younger” vets, and let those go who are basically about to retire. Nothing wrong with seeing what you have with the players that you’ve drafted to be the future anyways. Who knows how the season will go. It’s not all doom and gloom. We can still be competitive with the core of defenders we have. And if we bring back our main pieces we should be decent. Maybe last spot in the playoffs decent.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Words from a Kenny Rogers song also says it well “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em”

    I’m all for going younger. This is a crucial decision for the Glazers & it will depend entirely on whether or not they land an upper-tier QB..

    I believe they won’t……

    Ira, there could also be some “splitting the baby” going on….some young, some old….
    Gholston would be a keeper for me….and a cheaper Suh and or JPP.

  4. zzbuc Says:

    Agree with you Ira.
    The problem with fans today, IMO, is they want everything now.
    The moment we start kicking forward salary, there will be point you have to slow down. Check NO.

    I think the Bucs are in the middle.
    We have a talented roster, we big holes on it, and the biggest is on QB.

    Doesn’t make any sense to go for a big name and throw away our draft capital if you want to be relevant every year.

    Hard job for Jason Licht….That’s why he gets paid!!!

  5. Tackleblockwin Says:

    I think we should use our draft picks to start filling in holes and getting a little younger. Build a better team over the next two drafts and FA periods to attract future FA QBs without giving away valuable draft picks via trade. It’s just not the time to go all in on a trade for QB.

  6. Biff Barker Says:

    Test our youth, save our future draft picks and avoid future cap hell.

    We may be surprised. We may not.

    If we suck out loud again, at least Buc fans know how to cope.


    Wish to High Heaven that everyone on JBF would eliminated the words: Deshaun Watson……PLEASE

  8. D-Rome Says:

    The problem with fans today, IMO, is they want everything now.

    zzbuc, I’m not sure if you’re talking about Bucs fans but if you are I think this fan base is one of the most patient fan bases in the NFL. This fan base suffered through 11 years of pathetic football and in today’s NFL it should not take more than two seasons to retool a roster to be a winning team.

    I’m fine with a rebuild (or a reload) but for goodness sake have an effing plan in place to build a team that’s a playoff contender within 2 years. The Bucs have to build towards something and this team needs to stop becoming a team where careers go to die. The Patriots reloaded after having a bad season and they’ve got their guy under center for the next 15 years IMO. Franchises rarely turn around after tanking for a #1 pick.

  9. Bird Says:

    Remember how “youngry” (young and hungry) turned out under raheem morris

    Almost got a personalized jersey around that time saying instead “yitty” (young and shi___)

  10. zzbuc Says:


    I am not talking about Bucs fans, I am talking about the new generations.

    I agree that Bucs fans base is patient, I am old enough to know.

    But if you are a joebucsfan posting ( you are) and reading what people write, you can understand what I mean.

    People posting give up 3/4 first rounders for Rodgers or Wilson, don’t understand how it is! Why would Seattle or Green Bay will trade with you, when you have a 27 first rounder!!!!

    I can keep on with much more examples, but I don’t wanna bore you.

  11. BuxfaninTX Says:

    Whenever you get rid of that many veterans, younger players have no one to teach them how to be a professional….. (see Vernon Hargreaves v JPP). Gotta have a mix

  12. Buczilla Says:

    I’m good with a rebuild as long as it doesn’t take us nearly 20 years to be relevant again. Overpaying for any qb outside of Karen, the Groper, or Wilson shouldn’t even be a consideration. Get one of the best or suck for a couple of years and build a killer defense.

  13. Proud Bucs Fan Says:

    The big question is, why is bruce arrogance still the head coach?

  14. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    What happened to all the culture talk? Not letting the expectations fall back to the dark years? Are we going to win the Super Bowl every year? No way, but the minute you show signs of not even trying or expecting to compete for one you’re in trouble.
    Our young nucleus of guys are champions. No need to rebuild, just keep building. I’ve got total faith in Jason Licht. The dude has clawed this franchise out of the abyss and I doubt he let’s it just disintegrate just because we don’t have the greatest QB of all time anymore.
    Play to your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses. Absolutely no need to just tear the whole thing down.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    @Sage … ‘And while it’s true the rest of the NFC South is in disarray, the Bucs sit at a franchise crossroads themselves’.

    Truer words were never written Ira. It’s quite irrelevant what folks call it, but the Bucs must ‘re-invent themselves’ starting this year. We’ve got far too many ‘holes’ in our starting lineup (and key rotational players) … including at starting QB … to truly expect to make another SB run this year.

    I’m convinced that we can be ‘competitive’ (play some good football & win some games) IF we focus on TEAM-BUILDING in 2022 & 2023. It’ll take a couple of very good drafts, some really smart FA pickups, AND some excellent coaching & management, BUT it’s doable. Bengals managed to do it (over a couple of years), and so did the Patriots (again, over a couple of years). BOTH grabbed young starting QBs & focused heavily on building fairly strong defenses. It’ll be interesting to see which direction the Bucs’ hierarchy chooses to go.

  16. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I favor a rebuild now, instead of selling our soul to the Devil for a top QB.
    IMHO, we are not a QB away from being a Super Bowl team. Not only did we lose Brady, but we just lost our Pro Bowl Guard too.
    When you add all that up + the players we are sure to lose to free agency + our tough schedule, it does not add up to a Super Bowl contender.
    Maybe a division championship, if we are lucky.

  17. SufferingSince76 Says:

    The Bucs have not traditionally been lucky with keeping a franchise quarterback like Green Bay or Pittsburgh. Until they can, we will always be talking about the quarterback dilemma.

  18. Bucsfanman Says:

    The cupboard is not bare in Tampa Bay. We have enough talent to be a playoff team and we still have draft capital to help build.
    What is often forgotten in those post SB years with Brooks and Sapp and co was that we gave up two 1st round picks and two 2nd round picks to get Gruden. Theoretically, those players should have been foundational or at least functional players for us.
    There was no “re-tooling” to be had because the pipeline was non-existent.
    This is how and where GMs make or break a franchise.
    Jason Licht, you are on the clock!

  19. D-Rome Says:

    Perfectly said, BigPoppaBuc. Just try, it’s all I really ask for. If the team rolls with Trask then fine, put strong pieces around him. If the team is not going to make a serious run for the Super Bowl then don’t sign guys who are past their prime looking for one last pay day. There used to be a cantankerous JBF commenter, and I can’t remember his name because he left as soon as Brady was signed (a Jay-Miss homer), but he used to call it a paid Glazer vacation. The Bucs can’t be that team.

  20. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    I’d like to think we have our kicker for the next decade in Jose Borgales

  21. icemonkeybuc Says:

    You have the Saints in cap hell freeing up cap room to be a player this year. Rebuild means to get used to the suck that we have grown accustomed to. Winning is still a novelty for most Buc fans.
    Free up cap space and use the Saints as a example of doing so. I hated the idea of Bridgewater but why not if he is a stop gap that can get us to the play offs and allow us to sign a FA qb if needed.
    Rebuild. Just no!

  22. Hodad Says:

    Guys like Suh, JPP, McClendon shouldn’t be back at any price now. This team is no longer a QB away, it’s time to start over. I think we can, and will compete in a weak NFC south. If we can win our division, no matter the record, and host a home playoff game, that would be a great season.

  23. Steven007 Says:

    Proud Bucs Troll with his daily one-liner. Boy you have some kind of great imagination there. Excellent posting.

  24. SlyPirate Says:

    The Bucs need a franchise QB.

    Get a marquis QB and go all-in on win now.
    No QB and go budget-draft until you do.

  25. Steven007 Says:

    Just announced, finally we’re getting the throwback uni’s but not until 2023.

  26. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    I would support a modest rebuild. Free agency and retirements will leave us with holes to fill, but there is still a lot of talent on this team. In fact, this team does not seem too different from the 2019 team. With better quarterbacking and placekicking, the Bucs probably would have won at least 10 games that season. Heck, I think we have a more solid core of key players now than we did in 2019 (particularly in the trenches and in the backfield). I think we should roll with who we have at quarterback (Gabbert, Trask, or some other available free agent QB), and continue to build a solid team until we get our starting quarterback. I would hate to mortgage the future for a big name quarterback and not be able to surround them with the talent they need to be successful.

  27. Tom in MadTown Says:

    Great column Ira.

  28. Bruce Blahak Says:

    The sky is falling! Save The Licht House!

  29. Duane Says:

    Its not a rebuild. There is young and prime talent on both sides of the ball. The offense has an identity regardless of the qb, and for better or worse the defense does as well. Jameis consistently got us 5-7 games in an nfc south filled with all time greats- surely there is a signal caller that can do the same or better.

  30. Dapostman Says:

    Figure out the core players and keep them. Core players can be kept out to 4 years. Some will be 3, some 2 a few are 1 year guys like Suh.

    Fill in the rest of the roster.

    It’s always about the core guys. Everybody’s fill ins are virtually the same.

  31. Adam's Angry Says:

    If the Bucs are going to “settle” on youth, then they failed.

    Literally 18 games away from a Super Bowl trophy, this team should NOT consider rebuilding. If they settle for Trask of some Josh McCown-retread, then the front office FAILED.

  32. GOPATS Says:

    Hate to say it but you guys are in for a rude awakening. It’s going to be a long decrepit road to failure as long as you have that clown Bruce at the helm. Tom was the coach, Bruce just ran around on the sidelines with that fanny pack on him tripping and looking clueless. Now without Tom, Old Brucey-boy will be exposed for how truly crappy a coach he is and always has been. Love all his dopey comments while he was smoking the cheebah that AB left in his locker … the high is wearing off know and he is moving onto the geratol…

    But good luck we Pats fans no the hole that losing TB12 is. Maybe you can convince him for one last run…