Mark Dominik: Bucs GM Is the Wild Card in Tampa Bay's Deck
Mark Dominik undoubtedly knows the secondary needs help and the offensive line needs depth. Certainly he's aware that a pass rusher or two is needed as well.
And while we're fixing things, maybe he can find a slot receiver, too.
Such is the life of an NFL general manager—seldom seen, but always under the microscope. After all, GMs hold the purse, cut the checks and make personnel decisions.
Worse yet, any success had is rarely acknowledged because, quite frankly, it is expected. There is no room for error when the most important day is today, every day.
Dominik has been at the helm of the Bucs for more than four years. He has overseen the firing of a head coach, the hiring of another and has chosen four draft classes.
So, what makes him Tampa Bay's wild card?
He started the spring of 2012 off as the architect of a free-agency spending frenzy, signing Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright to deals totaling more than $140 million. The deals were front-loaded, allowing the Bucs to shed the contracts after a few years with minimal (if any) cap penalties as a result.
Then the Bucs turned their attention to the draft, where they were all but certain to select LSU CB Morris Claiborne with their top overall pick.
Instead he orchestrated three draft-day deals within the first two rounds that landed instant starters in Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David, all of whom filled a need and were used extensively last season.
In moving down from No. 5 overall to No. 7 to draft Barron, the Bucs added a fourth-round selection from Jacksonville. He later traded their second-round pick (No. 36) and swapped fourth-round choices with Denver to move back into the first round to draft Martin at No. 31.
Then, when David had slipped into the latter part of the second round, Dominik dealt his third-round pick and the fourth-round choice acquired from Denver to Houston in exchange for their late second-round selection in order to choose the speedy linebacker from Nebraska.
But just how crafty was Dominik? In essence, the Bucs used the same fourth-round pick in moves for both Martin and David. Martin totaled more than 1,900 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns, while David racked up 139 tackles, two sacks and an interception.
The Texans eventually used that fourth-round pick to draft DE Jared Crick, who tallied 22 tackles in limited duty.
Ask yourselves this: Who got the better end of that deal? Without question, Dominik and the Bucs.
So, here we are a year later in almost the same position: needs to fill, money to spend in free agency and several high draft choices.
While many—myself included—will speculate on potential signings and players they should target, the fact remains that no one truly knows how Dominik will approach this offseason.
The Bucs currently have $30.1 million worth of cap space to play with for the start of free agency in March. That's 5th most among NFL teams— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) February 11, 2013
Sure, we can assume they'll be free-spending high rollers when free agency kicks off next month, but what if last year was an anomaly? What if the Glazers pull in the purse strings?
We can also assume they'll draft to fix the secondary with their top overall pick (No. 13), but what if Dominik and staff fall in love with Jarvis Jones or Alec Ogletree, the linebacking duo from Georgia? What about a pass-rushing lineman? Or an offensive lineman? Or dare I say a quarterback?
That's the thing: nobody knows. As a matter of fact, there's a good chance Dominik himself doesn't know right now.
There are a lot of variables that go into personnel decisions—namely interviews, tryouts, etc.—that could completely alter how they approach free agency and the draft. After all, if last year showed us anything it's that there are no sure bets when it comes to Dominik.
Meaning, while we all scour through the ratings of big-name defensive backs, Dominik could be holed up somewhere studying linemen and slot receivers.
Call him dumb. Call him crazy.
Just don't call his bluff.
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