2012 NFL Free Agents: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Did Their Homework on Vincent Jackson

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IMarch 16, 2012

Mark Dominik spent a lot of due diligence on Vincent Jackson.
Mark Dominik spent a lot of due diligence on Vincent Jackson.

For those unfamiliar with General Manager Mark Dominik and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, it would be quite easy to simply throw uninformed stones at the acquisition of wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

For the uniformed, saying the Buccaneers will regret the signing of the top free-agent wide receiver is simply throwing wet rags on the wall to see if they'll stick.

Put simply, Vincent Jackson is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer today because Dominik did a lot of due diligence on Jackson and watched countless amounts of real game film before pulling the trigger.

"He's an impressive young man when you visit with him," Dominik told ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio recently. "We delved into the character of the man. We watched a lot of tape."

Aware of Jackson's two off-field issues, Dominik is convinced that is all "in the past."

Another factor in the acquisition of Jackson is that this is not all about Vincent Jackson. It's also about quarterback Josh Freeman. This year and next year are crucial seasons in the evaluation of Freeman as a potential "franchise" quarterback. We saw what he could do in 2010 and the Bucs need to determine if that is the "real" Josh Freeman and if last year's lack of performance was an aberration.

Adding Jackson will help determine Freeman's true potential.

As for as Jackson's age, well, Dominik reminded us that if you think back to the Super Bowl team, there were some 30-something guys like Keenan McCardell, Keyshawn Johnson and Joe Jurevicius.

Dominik also gave Jackson a "motivational" contract. Yes, there's $26 million to be had over the first two seasons, but more awaits so that basically Jackson can close out his career in Tampa and be rewarded big time if he performs and wants to perform well in years three, four and five.

Regrets? Humbug.

Jackson was only part of an impressive free-agent equation. Carl Nicks from New Orleans may be the biggest piece.

"He was not just the best offensive lineman in free agency, he's one of the best offensive linemen in the National Football League regardless of free agency or not," Dominik told Florio. "We want to run the football and be a physical team."

Jackson and Nicks are just two examples of what a strong free-agent class there was this year. "In 2011, we didn't feel it was a good time because we knew 2012 was going to be a huge class of free agents," Dominik said.

Dominik also revealed that the Bucs backed away from free agency in 2011 because of the lack of an offseason with no chance to blend new players into the system.  

"We took care of some of our own last year, like Davin Joseph," he said.

Dominik went on to say that for now, the Bucs will "continue to monitor free agency."

He also then turned in the obvious direction. "We're now focusing on the NFL draft."

"We're not married to the No. 5 selection," he said. "We're preparing for all possibilities. We're open for business."

Tough to argue with that sensible logic of being open to potential trades.

It's also foolish to throw rocks at Jackson or any other free-agent acquisition the Bucs have made.

It makes a lot more sense to judge players on the field come September.

Doesn't it?