Yardbarker Horiz

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Talib Not Going Anywhere (Unless)

Aqib Talib will not be leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, unless he really did fire a weapon in Texas.

Contrary to other reports, there is not a movement inside the Buccaneers organization to let Talib go.  And while the blogosphere is quick to judge, jury, and execution, just because you don't look at the facts does not mean they do not exist.  Really, bloggers "calling" for the release of Talib?  Get Real.

Don't get me wrong -- if Talib fired the gun, the NFL will be quick and decisive in it's actions.  And dismissal from the team is a real possibility.

But, so far, Talib is still only a "person of interest".  He has not been formally charged.  In fact, a grand jury will decide whether to indict Talib.  The facts of the case are sketchy, with many coming from the notorious "unnamed sources close to the investigation".  And several don't pass the "common sense" test, such as the man allegedly shot at was at the scene when police arrived -- this is a guy who claims two people shot at him; was he looking for a third time?  The suspect led the police to the gun which was allegedly discharged at him; it was in a neighbor's trash can -- again, shot at, ran away, but knew where the gun was?

A grand jury will decide if charges need to be brought against Talib.  Until then, he's done everything the team has asked of him, including anger management courses and limited time with the media.  The team will not make a decision before this process is fully resolved.

So let's just let it play out, OK?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another Big At Running Back?

By now, Buccaneer fans understand General Manager Mark Dominik is very serious about filling every roster spot with a quality football player.  His eye for free agents has been uncanny, resulting in finds like Donald Penn and LeGarrette Blount.

So it's worth the time to take a peek at what happened January 4th, 2011, or, more precisely, what arrived.  January 4th was the day the end-of-season practice squad roster had it's members signed to the offseason roster -- have new surprises arrived?

One big thing that arrived was Rendrick Taylor.  Taylor was signed on May 3rd, 2010, and spent the offseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers only to be cut on the final roster countdown after training camp last year.  Obviously, he left a big impression.

Taylor is a 2010 free agent, undrafted out of Clemson.  The 6'2", 265lbs running back was a 5th year senior with a history of injuries in college including a broken wrist in 2005 and a broken arm in 2006.  He missed his entire 4th college season (2008) due to injury.

Nonetheless, the Buccaneers brought Taylor back to the practice squad on December 8th, 2010 and signed him to the current roster on January 4th, 2011.  He fills a void left when Chris Pressley, the only fullback on the Tampa Bay roster at the time, was cut in October 2010 to make room for offensive line promotions as the injuries started to pile up last season.

Can Taylor be a surprise in 2011?  Journeyman Erik Lorig played well at fullback during the second half of last year, but it's still not clear if the Buccaneers would rather use Lorig at tight end or defensive end.  Taylor is the tallest and heaviest runner on the Tampa Bay roster, and the Buccaneers plan to continue to develop their physical running game.

This will be a key offseason for Taylor, making him a story worth watching during the next training camp. If he has worked through his injuries and is healthy again he could be a player which extends the game for others, like Lorig or Earnest Graham, which would make him very valuable to the team.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What Is Josh Johnson Worth?

With multiple media reports stating the 49ers may be interested in Josh Johnson, could a trade be in the works?  Johnson has completed his rookie contract so would not carry any additional cap penalties, making him very interesting to the right party.  So the question is:  what is the Buccaneers current #2 signal caller worth?

San Francisco has a lot of draft picks to use for bait this season.  Currently the 49ers have 12 picks:  1 in each round, plus an extra in the 4th and 6th rounds, and three extra in the 7th round.  Johnson was originally a 5th round pick by Tampa Bay in the Class of 2008.  Certainly Johnson has proven he is worth more than his original pick, particularly with his expanded role in the Buccaneers two QB set (the "wildcat formation").

How badly does San Francisco need a quarterback?  Currently the 49ers only have David Carr on their roster, the #1 overall pick in 2002.  What makes Josh Johnson so interesting to the 49ers is he and new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh are familiar with each other and the offense Harbaugh wishes to utilize due to time spent together at the University of San Diego.

The 49ers currently have the #7 pick this season.  The top two prospects at quarterback, Blaine Gabbert of Missouri and Cam Netwon from Auburn, are currently not rating above that position on the draft boards of the more reliable sources, yet mock drafts across the web have both men gone by the time the 49ers pick.  The next two quarterback prospects, Jake Locker of Washington and Christian Ponder of Florida State, should be off the board before the 49ers get their second pick.  This scenario could leave Harbaugh either grasping early for the #3 QB at the seventh pick, or settling for the #5 quarterback in the class (Ryan Mallett of Arkansas).  In the case where the top two quarterbacks are selected before the seventh pick, the trade value for Josh Johnson picks up considerably.

Other positions of need for the 49ers are defensive as the 49ers had one of the statistically poorest squads in the NFL last season.  And if they do not select a quarterback with the seventh overall pick, they will their choice of one of the top two defensive ends or defensive tackles in the class of 2011.

So there are some facts which make a trade between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the San Francisco 49ers reasonable.  However, most reasons do not play out unless the 2011 NFL Draft falls a certain way.  But, for once, it's nice to be the team waiting for the offer instead of being the team making the offer.