In less than 24 hours, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-shaped their roster and at the same time, their reputation. The Bucs landed three of the most sought-after free agents available. The moves fill glaring weakness and inject leadership to a team that finished last year with 10 straight losses.
The Bucs did exactly what their fans base has been asking for -- they spent money. The Bucs opened up the vault, writing contracts for a combined $140-million to Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright.
It buys the Bucs instant credibility with three of the best free agents that money could buy. Tampa's new trio is the Bucs' version of the NBA move made in Miami by the Heat, even though it's not exactly like locking up Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
"You know, we're not the Big 3 like the Miami Heat," said a smiling Carl Nicks. "But hey, we are doing some things down here. It's humbling. It's an honor. It's a blessing. With that title comes a lot more responsibility."
"You have to work twice as hard to let everybody know why you got what you got."
These moves are the biggest splash in the free agent pool so far. For the Glazer family, this is a major commitment to restore the Bucs' reputation. These aren't moves to buy a championship; the players here are complements to the current foundation.
"When I look at these three guys, they're a perfect fit for what we want to do," new head coach Greg Schiano said. "I can't thank the Glazers enough for stepping to the plate and bringing these three guys home."
"Every one of them had a choice to be somewhere else today," said General Manager Mark Dominik. "They chose Tampa."
Chemistry between the old and new players is a concern. The Philadelphia Eagles tried it a year ago and struggled, but Eric Wright has played through it and has the experience with some advice.
"It's simply about being yourself," said Wright. "You get a group of guys together and some people will love each other. There will be a lot of 'bromances'. There will be a lot of acquaintances and then there will be a lot of, I don't really hang out with that guy.
"It's just numbers. So I just tell guys, just be yourself."
Mark Dominik admitted there was a lot of planning that allowed the Bucs to pull off these deals. Having the most money in the league came by design. Passing on signing players a year ago allowed this day to happen.
"We thought about that [in 2011]," said Dominik. "Some of the players, like Eric. We were recruiting Eric last year when we were in free agency, honestly. It didn't work out. A lot of players took one year deals last year. We realized a lot of players might become available.
"Future forecasting, we always do. Who's all going to become free agents next year already on other clubs. How do you look at that. Who can become eligible. So you look at a future forecasting, what can become available in free agency."
Hitting this trifecta hasn't broken the Bucs' bank, but it's allowed the Bucs to breathe easier and be even more selective with their remaining cash.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?