A view on free agency
GM Bruce Allen promised Buc fans some "Tiger Woods free agents". What we got was Ian Poulter.

OK, maybe that is a bit harsh because the talent out there in free agency this year has been more like the Nationwide Tour than the PGA, and the few decent players making an appearance on the list were so over-paid it was ridiculous. $30M for Donte Stallworth? There is a reason this guy has had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus guys.

But to listen to the bleating of some Buc fans, one would think that the Tampa Bay front office has not spent a red cent on anyone. Center is not the most exciting position on the team but the Bucs needed an upgrade from John Wade and got it in Jef Faine. The clock had just turned midnight and Cinderella's coach was still changing back into a pumpkin when Faine became a Buccaneer.

The other moves were filling small needs on the team - veteran back-up (Griese), linebacker depth (Lehman and McCoy) and over-the-hill RB who has a good character to provide some feel-good stories for the media (Dunn). Don't get me wrong, I think Warrick Dunn is a tremendous individual and was a great back for the Bucs. In 2001. And the key word is "was".

So perhaps to help with the need for receivers we could go for Mark Carrier. Or has anyone got Kevin House's number? I even read one idiot fan suggesting we bring back John Lynch too. He is a bigger liability in the air than an Kazakhstan budget airline (yes I know I've done that joke before but it was a good one).

It is all too easy in free agency to be drawn in by the name and not the actual talent. Just because you played Madden 2003 with Lynch as an All-Pro safety, does not mean the March 2008 version that actually would take the field is as good. Or half as good.

Same with Warren Sapp, same with Warrick Dunn and same with any other former Buc who was good once. That was then. This is now.

So OK there are no massive big-name splurges and wild press conferences at One Buc with new acquisitions. But when you look at the playing field on which Bruce Allen had to operate, can you really blame him?

Paul Stewart, 13 March 2008