Yardbarker Horiz

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CBA Impact: Four- To Six-Year Players

With the CBA now officially heading for it's Final League Year (starting March 1st) some of the fog for the 2010 offseason has been lifted.  The first group of players to be examined are players with four, five, or six years of NFL experience.  For players in this experience range who's contract ended with the 2009 season the news is probably not what they want to hear.  Instead of being unrestricted free agents (can sign with anyone for any price) in an uncapped year, they are instead restricted free agents (giving Tampa Bay the option to match the best offer they can find).  Here is a list of Bucs players with 4-6 years of experience (in jersey number order):

24  Williams, Cadillac (5) -- signed 5-year contract in 2005; will be a Restricted Free Agent (RFA)
48  Economos, Andrew (4) --    signed 5-year contract in 2008; under contract through 2012
50  McCoy, Matt (5) -- drafted in 2005, signed with Buccaneers in 2008, on and off roster for 2009, suspect short term contract; will be RFA(?)
51  Ruud, Barrett (5) -- 2009 was last contract year; will be an RFA
65  Trueblood,  Jeremy (4) -- signed 4-year contract in 2006; will be an RFA
70  Penn, Donald  (4) -- signed one year tender in 2009; will be an RFA
75  Joseph, Davin (4) -- signed 5-year contract in 2006; under contract through 2010
85  Stovall, Maurice (4) -- contract expires at end of 2009, will be an RFA

I have no doubt that the one year tender offer given to Donald Penn last year was, in his mind, a bridge to unrestricted free agency.  That bridge is now gone. 

Williams was the team's leading rusher last year and showed great promise in returning from severe injury.  Penn played well against most of the best defensive ends this past season and solidified his position as a rare talent at left tackle.  If the deep pockets come calling, those will be the first places they stop.  Trueblood has also shown he is a more than capable right tackle, and Stovall and Ruud were important contributors as well.

The good news is that Tampa Bay gets to match any offer other teams bring to the table.  The bad news is that all five players highlighted above were important contributors last year and losing any of them will be problematic.

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