2012 NFL Free Agents: Mario Manningham Headed to Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Anthony ForteContributor IIIFebruary 26, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants attempts to make a catch against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

A report surfaced from the desk of Clark Judge of CBSSports.com, indicating that Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham will be leaving the champion New York Giants this offseason in favor of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Judge wrote today that Manningham would leave with the Giants and move on to Tampa Bay for a shot at playing in a warm-weather location and following ex-Giant quarterback coach Mike Sullivan, who will be the offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers in 2012. 

First, they said, he would know Sullivan's offense, so there is no learning curve. Second, people close to Manningham indicate that he wants to go to a warm-weather club, and last time I checked Tampa Bay qualified on that score. 

Another reason mentioned in the article was a shot to make more cash. The Bucs have a lot of cap freed up this season and with a need for a deep-threat target, it seems logical that they would be interested in paying Manningham the money needed to join the team in Florida.

After receiving only 39 catches this past regular season, Manningham told his hometown newspaper, The Vindicator of Youngstown, Ohio, that their was a 75 percent chance he would not be returning to the Giants and wanted to find a home where he would see more passes thrown his way. 

Nothing was reported about any specific teams, other than the nearby Cleveland Browns. When asked if he was a Browns fan growing up, Manningham said no and asked for the next question.

It's unlikely the Giants will bring back Manningham anyways. While he made a remarkable catch for the team in the Super Bowl that was monumental in their victory, he isn't worth the price tag he'll get on the open market. Besides, if there is one thing the Giants learned this year, it is that a good free agent can be found after the draft is over as an undrafted player... 

Perhaps one thing that needs to be questioned is whether or not any tampering is going on between the Bucs and Manningham. Is this a matter of the sources simply putting facts together and making an educated guess? Or has Manningham told friends that he intends on signing with the Buccaneers when free agency begins on March 13th?

If that's the case, how does he know there is mutual interest? The only way would be if there was communication between the two parties, which is not allowed under NFL policy and could lead to penalization from the league. 

If Manningham ends up signing with the Bucs immediately after free agency opens, the Giants may have a reason to go to the league offices with tampering. Although most of the time these cases don't work out right for the former team, nothing is lost by bringing it to commissioner Roger Goodell.