In yet another sign of the Tampa Bay Bucs' drastic facelift, the team released perhaps the most stalwart player in franchise history, LB Derrick Brooks, a sure-fire future Hall of Famer. Joining him on he cuts list were another popular Buc, RB Warrick Dunn, who returned to the team last year after several with the Falcons; WR Joey Galloway; WR Ike Hilliard; and LB Cato June.
All except June were past-their-prime players with substantial salaries. June, who turns 30 later this year, signed in 2007 as a free agent from the Indianapolis Colts, but never made the impact expected. June was considered the heir apparent to Brooks, so it's a bit odd that he was released as well. But overall, the cuts are indicative of a Tampa Bay youth movement, or to use a taboo word: rebuilding.
The Brooks release is easily the most controversial. He's been an absolutely great player for the team, an 11-time Pro Bowler, and a pillar of the community. He even restructured his contract a couple of times to provide the franchise with salary cap space to sign free agents.
Salary cap is not currently a problem with the Bucs. The team is a reported $42 million under the cap, most in the NFL.
What do all these moves augur? The optimist might think that the Bucs are gearing up for a run at free agents like monster DT Albert Haynsworth. Those with less sunny outlooks might see it as the new administration following ownership's mandate to run the team on the cheap. The Glazer family owns the Manchester United soccer team, which is widely regarded to have the highest payroll in all of professional sports.
I don't have a strong read on it either way but I do know that if with the Bucs parting ways with Brooks and the rest, they had better be counter those moves by loosening the purse strings or else risk alienating their fanbase more than it already is.
A press conference has been scheduled for 3 p.m.
From the official site:
Bucs Call 3:00 PM Press Conference
Feb 25, 2009 -
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have called a press conference at team headquarters beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday afternoon.
The team will make both Head Coach Raheem Morris and General Manager Mark Dominik available to speak and answer questions at the press conference.
The press conference will be carried live on Buccaneers.com and a recorded version will be posted shortly after its conclusion.