Last-Minute Advice For Cheerleading Hopefuls

Tryouts for the 2013-14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders squad begin on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.  Cathy Boyd, the Buccaneers’ Cheerleading and Mascot Manager has some last-minute advice for those hopefuls who plan to show up for open call at One Buccaneer Place on Saturday morning.

“Make sure you get a good night’s sleep,” said Boyd.  “Wake up and eat a good breakfast to make sure you have enough energy.  Drink some water and just get ready to show up with your “A” game.” Continue reading

List-Makers Take Note of Bucs’ Young Stars

Lavonte David hasn’t been to the Pro Bowl yet.  Doug Martin and Gerald McCoy have been all-stars, but they haven’t hit a quarter-century yet.

Whether they’re under the radar like David or just under 25 like Martin and McCoy, the Buccaneers’ up-and-coming stars are catching notice around the NFL.  That was emphasized once again this week, as USA Today’s Nate Davis named David to his “All-Joe” team and NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison tabbed both Martin and McCoy for his All-Under-25 Team. Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Who will be the most coveted player on the NFL’s free agency market this year?

A little less than a year ago, the Buccaneers made the biggest single-day free agency splash in franchise history, immediately snapping the most coveted wide receiver (Vincent Jackson) AND the most coveted offensive lineman (Carl Nicks) off the market, as well as starting-caliber cornerback Eric Wright.  Either Jackson or Nicks might also have been at the top of the overall list of available free agents, though Mario Williams would have been a prime candidate for that spot, too.  Depending upon depth chart needs and specific preferences, some teams might have started their rankings with Brandon Carr, Cortland Finnegan or Matt Flynn.

The Bucs got their men on March 14, while the Bills swiped Williams away from the Texans on the 15th.  Carr went from the Chiefs to the Cowboys on the 14th, the same day Finnegan left the Titans and rejoined Jeff Fisher in St. Louis.  Flynn actually waited until the 18th to pick the Seahawks after leaving Green Bay.  Every year, the players in the most demand seem to make their decisions in the opening hours of free agency, and this time around their agents will have a three-day lead-in period to start negotiations with possible suitors.

Will Tampa once again be the destination for one or more of the top free agents in 2013?  That remains to be seen, though the Bucs definitely have salary cap space to work with if they choose to do so.  That, however, is not the question I present to you, Andrew.

In fact, don’t worry at all about which teams may be wooing the top free agents this year.  Instead of the ‘where,’ let’s debate the ‘who.’  Specifically, who is this year’s Mario Williams or Carl Nicks?  Who is going to have the most passionate suitors, and who is going to ink the biggest deal?

While we’re not worrying about what teams may come calling, let’s do keep the players’ current teams in mind.  Every year, the list of potential free agents looks a lot more appealing in January than it does in March.  Obviously, many teams do their best to re-sign their core players before free agency begins, especially the young ones who are just coming off their initial four or five-year NFL contracts.  That’s an important consideration.  For instance, you could choose Joe Flacco if you like, but I would counter that I strongly believe, one way or another, the Ravens will find a way to keep him around.

In the same vein, you can choose a pending restricted free agent if you like, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  The best players on that list almost never change teams.  So, keeping the likelihood of actually availability on March 12 in mind, answer me this:

Who will be the most coveted player on the NFL’s free agent market this year? Continue reading

Comparing NFC South Free Agency Lists

Exactly four weeks remain before the start of the NFL’s 2013 league year, and with it the opening bell on the free agent market.  We are now fully into the pre-FA period in which teams release players to make room under the next year’s salary cap and/or get to work re-signing some of their own potential free agents before they hit the market.

That means the list of potential free agents as it looks today is going to change in a pretty significant way before March 12.  The Bills, for instance, added LB Nick Barnett and S George Wilson to the list of available players on Tuesday, and the Vikings made it clear they are hoping to keep T Phil Loadholt off of it.  Still, it’s worth taking a look at how the potential list of free agents for the four NFC South teams compare to each other.

The lists below aren’t necessarily exhaustive (and, again, they are likely to change before March 12), but they do attempt to identify all of the key players who could hit free agency.  Where applicable, notable restricted free agents are also mentioned, though RFAs only change teams infrequently: Continue reading

Could the Bucs Be Canton Bound Next Summer?

Warren Sapp will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 3 as part of the Class of 2013, in a ceremony held in front of the Hall in Canton, Ohio.  Since Sapp will become the second person in the Hall of Fame who spent the majority of his career with Tampa Bay, it’s a virtual certainty that a group of Buccaneer reps will be on hand in Canton that day, as well.

It’s even possible that the entire team will get a trip to Canton for the weekend.

One day after Sapp and the other six members of the Class of 2013 have their bronze busts unveiled, two teams will kick off the NFL’s 2013 preseason schedule with the annual Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium, right next door to the Hall.  The two opponents in that game have not yet been announced, but there’s reason to believe the Buccaneers are on the short list of possibilities. Continue reading

Bucs Have Room to Move

The day after the 2012 season ended, with the Buccaneers out of the playoff picture but feeling very good about the immediate future, General Manager Mark Dominik pointed out a pair of unrelated side items that could affect the team’s fortunes in 2013.  Specifically, Dominik referred to recent contract restructurings for WR Vincent Jackson and G Carl Nicks that would free up additional salary cap space in the coming season.

Whether the space would eventually be used to lure more free agents to Tampa – the Bucs made the NFL’s most dramatic impact in free agency in 2012 with Jackson, Nicks, Eric Wright and a handful of others – or to lock in part of the team’s existing nucleus, Dominik knew it was important. Continue reading

Strength of Schedule Numbers Put Bucs in Middle of the Pack

The Buccaneers’ scheduled opponents in 2013 season combined to play exactly .500 ball in 2012.

Tampa Bay has known its list of upcoming foes since the final day of the 2012 regular season, when the completed standings filled in the last couple blanks.  The Bucs will play six games against their NFC South division mates, of course, and will also meet each club in the NFC West and the AFC East.  The final two games match them up against the teams from the NFC East and NFC North that finished in the same spot in their respective division standings: Detroit and Philadelphia.

Despite the fact that three of the four 2012 conference championship game participants are on that list, the Bucs’ 16 opponents in 2013 put up a combined 127-127-2 record.  (Playing both teams that produced the one tie of 2012, St. Louis and San Francisco, puts that strange-looking coda on the end of those numbers.)  Not surprisingly, that puts Tampa Bay’s “strength of schedule” number for 2013 right in the middle of the pack. Continue reading

New Names Crop Up for Bucs on Mock Drafts

A little more than two weeks ago, we took a look at about 10 early versions of 2013 NFL mock drafts we found on-line.  We included one obvious caution: These predictions are almost certain to change – and change again and change again – over the next four months.

And change they have.  On Thursday, the two most prominent NFL draft analysts on NFL.com, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, posted their latest mock draft versions, and each one came up with a new name to associate with the Buccaneers. Continue reading

Point/Counterpoint: Which team will be the Buccaneers’ toughest competition in the NFC South in 2013?

At this time, I’d like to take a moment of silence. The football season is over. Please bow your heads.

Thank you. Now, let the 2013 season begin! And what better way to kick start the offseason than speculating about how the standings will look next January? I certainly can’t think of any. The NFC South is one of the toughest divisions in football, and at least one team from the division is always a contender come January.

Last season, Atlanta made it to the NFC Championship game for the second time since the 2002 realignment of the league. That is the seventh time in those ten years that a team from the NFC South made it to that stage. In fact, the NFC South is the only division in the NFL that has had all four of its teams make it to their conference’s championship game. And, this year, the Atlanta Falcons came just a few yards short of being the final team from the division to actually make a Super Bowl appearance.

On top of this, the South is the only division in the NFC to have crowned more than one team a Super Bowl Champion in that span: the Buccaneers in 2002 and the New Orleans Saints in 2009.  In the AFC, Baltimore just joined Pittsburgh as title-winners in the North since the realignment.

The stats are there. It’s hard to deny the constant competition that the Bucs’ division puts forth every year, so I feel pretty safe in assuming that this trend will continue into 2013. But the real question is: Which teams will make their mark?

The Atlanta Falcons will be the likely favorites, having made the best run in 2012. The New Orleans Saints will be back at full strength after a season marred with, well, everything. The Carolina Panthers got hot at the end of the year, winning five of their last six. And the Buccaneers are turning some heads and fully expect to make a playoff run next fall.

So, in the road to Buccaneer redemption, a playoff berth and, hopefully, an extended chase of a second Lombardi Trophy, which NFC South team will be the Bucs’ toughest competition in 2013? Continue reading

Bucs’ Extra Pick in the 125th Overall Range

The complete order for the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft is now in place, with Baltimore’s win in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday providing the final piece of the puzzle.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ spot at #13 wasn’t affected by postseason results, but the finalized list did provide the team with one small piece of information.

Due to their advancement to the AFC Championship Game, coupled with their 12-4 regular-season record, the New England Patriots have drawn the 29th spot in the draft order.  Because they are the only team with that combination of record and advancement in the postseason, the Patriots are in a segment of their own and will pick 29th in each of the seven rounds.

Or rather, that’s where all the Patriots’ picks are slotted.  They won’t actually be executing the 29th pick in the fourth round, however, because the Buccaneers currently own that as their return in November’s trade of Aqib Talib.

Tampa Bay still has its own picks in each of the seven rounds.  As for the Bucs’ draft order, they are in a five-team segment with four other clubs that finished 7-9 in 2012, all picking between 11th and 15th.  After starting at #13 in the first round, the Bucs will rotate up to #12 in Round Two and #11 in Round Three before jumping back to #15 in Round Four.

Owning the 29th pick in the fourth round means the Bucs will have an additional pick somewhere in the 120-130 range overall.  The exact spot won’t be determined until the NFL announces its compensatory picks in March, as those selections begin at the end of the third round.  There are usually very few of these before Round Four, however, and sometimes none, so the current math that puts the 29th pick of the fourth round at #125 overall shouldn’t change much.