Yardbarker Horiz

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One of Those Choices

Around 28 minutes into his Total Access show from London this week, Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik talked about spending 24-hours agonizing over one decision regarding his roster during the run-up to the New Orleans game.

The timeframe of this decision was Oct 10th through Oct 14th (not many roster changes on Thursdays or Fridays before games).  As I see it, the major event of that timeframe is the reinstatement of Tanard Jackson into the NFL.

Tampa Bay retains Jackson's rights through the end of this league year.  What triggered a hard decision is Jackson showed up at One Buccaneer Place in game shape.  In a group of Safeties which was already down one body with the loss of Cody Grimm, the return of a ready-to-play Tanard Jackson was a big boost.  Unfortunately, with Jackson reinstated, the Buccaneers were one man over the NFL roster limit.  Either Jackson had to be cut or another player.

This is the agonizing part for any GM, and I'm sure it's what Dominik was referring to.  The roster is flush with young talent.  Yet an experienced performer in your scheme is available.  And there is no "both" option; someone has to go.

After all the agonizing, phone calls with coaches, consultation with the pro personnel staff, and (no doubt) a long discussion with Head Coach Raheem Morris, the decision seems to have boiled down to keeping Tanard Jackson and releasing RB Allen Bradford (6th Round, 2011).

Bradford was deep on the depth chart behind players like LeGarrette Blount, Earnest Graham, and Kregg Lumpkin.  Clearly, the leadership group saw something in Bradford they liked.  This is a franchise which clearly values every selection.  So it would seems they planned on getting Bradford to the practice squad.

Then Dominik got . . . well, Dominik'd.

The Seattle Seahawks (and Bradford's former coach at USC Pete Carroll) swooped in and signed Bradford.  Talent lost.

That's not to say Bradford will never return.  Pro Personnel Director Shelton Quarles will keep an eye on the young man, no doubt.  Clearly Seattle also thinks Bradford is a worthwhile prospect, validating what the Buccaneers believed from the start.  But now he's not learning in Tampa. Tampa Bay's coaches are not directing his development and he's not in the Tampa Bay meeting rooms.

General Managers and their staff make these kinds of choices all the time.  There is no way to know if Bradford becomes the next Top 5 running back in the NFL, or if Tanard Jackson's troubles are behind him.  Jackson played a big role in the New Orleans victory last weekend, so in the short term at least, the decision appears to be solid.  Every roster move in the NFL involves something lost versus something gained.  The challenge for for more to fall under "gain".

Anticipating the results of this move will be something that nags at the front office for a while.

Such is life at One Buccaneer Place.

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