Let's start this with a quick pop quiz, shall we?
They didn't get any quick contract extensions. In fact, they all played into the final year of their contracts without extensions.
First and most important, the Bucs and probably everyone else at this moment, don't know how good Josh Freeman is. No one knows how good he may or may not become in 2013.
Compare Freeman's fourth season stats and Flacco's fourth season stats and they look eerily similar.
A year ago, a lot of observers around the Ravens were asking if Flacco was indeed their quarterback of the future. Seems Flacco may have resolved that issue with one big playoff win in that victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
That game, those big plays, those moments may have earned him a huge payday.
The Ravens weren't in any hurry and now they'll have to be content to negotiate with Flacco's agent, who tells us his client is an elite quarterback. That sort of talk happens when you out duel Peyton Manning in a playoff game.
But we digress.
Freeman will come back for his fifth season and it's up to him.
He controls his future.
He can could the next Flacco. In a year from now, Freeman's agent could be touting him as a top-five quarterback.
But again, the Bucs are in no hurry.
That is certainly evident as Greg Schiano hasn't even plugged any of the holes on his coaching staff yet and the waters out there are full of candidates looking for jobs.
He's got four openings: quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach on offense. On defense he needs a new defensive line coach and a new defensive backs coach.
The good news is that he doesn't have to replace offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who didn't make the final three candidates for the Chicago Bears job that eventually went to Marc Trestman.
Would it be a good idea to have Sullivan wear two hats?
After all, he coached Eli Manning. Why not have him serve as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach? Give him a raise and forget about hiring someone from the outside to coach up Freeman.
This will be a very important offseason.
Schiano's now got his arms totally wrapped around this thing. There is a lot more coaching talent out there now then when he was hired late a year ago.
The big question might be: do any quality coaches want to come here and work for Schiano? After all, he rubs some folks the wrong way a times.
You remember: Crash the kneel-down formation?
The substantial cap room puts the onus on GM Mark Dominik to find at least two more really good free agents. Please, no second coming of Eric Wright!
And then there's the draft.
If can can come up with three guys like Doug Martin, Lavonte David and Mark Barron—well, talk about resurgence?
Yes, and have Freeman morph into the Joe Flacco of the Baltimore-Denver game.
Hold the contract, please.
By all means.