Following the implementation of the NFL’s new CBA, the Tampa Bay Bucs were one of the teams furthest under the salary cap. After a shocking 2010 season where rapidly-improving Josh Freeman nearly led them to the playoffs, they went defensive-heavy in draft. I thought the Bucs would have followed that up by getting in the mix to land a prominent free agent or two. And remember, they play in a State with no income tax!
With Aqib Talib’s legal troubles, perhaps they’d make a play for Cincinnati corner Johnathan Joseph? How about adding another downfield option for Freeman in Braylon Edwards?
Tampa’s big splash so far? An embarrassing, 6-year, $19 million deal for punter Michael Koenen, with $6.5 million guaranteed. Who were they bidding against, themselves?
Now the good news: the Bucs were one of the worst teams punting the football last year (40.2 average was second-to-last in the league), and Koenen was in the Top 10 in pinning teams inside the 20 and 10. So there’s that.
Tampa fans have a right to be jammed up for the Bucs’ lack of activity this week. Coming off a 10-6 season, my guess is that the Bucs will be lucky to get to .500 this season. And they might not be that good if they can’t navigate a rugged early schedule: four of their first seven opponents made the playoffs last year, plus they have to face up-and-coming Detroit and travel to Minnesota and San Francisco, two teams that figure to be in the playoff hunt this season. The Bucs visit New Orleans, Green Bay and new-look Tennessee in November. Tampa closes the season with three of four games on the road; the other game is vs Dallas.
How does 5-11 sound?