A head coach who just retired. Limited cap space. Many key players hitting free agency. Two back-to-back losing seasons without looking competitive.
Overall, Tampa’s long-term future doesn’t look great. Coach Arians is a proven winner, and many fans would be forgiven for thinking that the Bucs are being set up for a couple of winning seasons and then back to the football basement. After all, the clues are there. Most of the talent on this team is hitting free agency, and the Buccaneers don’t have the cap to sign them back.
Normally this is where the management of a franchise would hold a press conference, ask the fans to be patient. Fans are given platitudes such as, “We’re rebuilding and setting the foundation.” Many fans right now would be rolling their eyes at the prospect of another rebuild.
This was a probable future for the Tampa Bay Bucs after two losing seasons without appearing to be anything but a contender for the first overall pick. So why bring in a high-profile coach like Bruce Arians? A coach who had just retired amid health concerns! Even Arians himself might admit he’s not a long-term answer.
This is where the Bucs get interesting. Right now it’s a “cap hell” situation. Donovan Smith has re-signed, and McCoy is presently staying in the Bay Area. DJax won’t take a pay cut, and Dotson has seen the team pick up his option. Kwon Alexander has apparently been offered a new contract but wants to check his options.
Since day one Coach Arians has said the same things over and over: “We’re not rebuilding, only retooling,” along with, “It’s important to get our guys back.” Another thing that has been said around the corridors of the Bucs facility is the team is far better than the record has shown. Handicapped by poor schemes and poor coaching.
So far there has been no scorching of the earth, no mass cuts to create larger breathing space within the salary cap. Arians is doing exactly what he said. Is it a stretch to believe other things he’s said when talking about putting the players into the best place to succeed? Or how about using coaches to effectively develop the existing talent on the roster?
If the Glazers were building a short-term winner, many of the high salary players would have gone. They’d be ready to bring in the mercenaries to get the smiles back on fans’ faces, if only for three years. Look closely at that “cap hell,” and you will see how it opens up as the older players start to decline and new, fresh faces arrive.
Look at the Patriots’ dynasty—not many players would demand a starting place on other teams. They aren’t an all-star team and never have been, just very well coached. A team with an identity and franchise QB.
When Bruce Arians retires again it will be with a full team of coaches and players in place with a vision of the future. A vision and an identity. Now is the time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to become the new NFL dynasty.