As this ridiculous lockout is hopefully in its final days, the question circling One Buccaneer Place is simple:
Will they or won't they?
Will they or won't they re-sign Barrett Ruud.
Better yet, does Barrett Ruud even want to be back at Raymond James this fall?
Never figured out why all those Bucs fans get such a kick of out hooting "R-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-d" every time good ole Barrett made a tackle, usually somewhere downfield, too seldom at the line of scrimmage.
Some pundits are waving him around like a prize-pick, a free agent extraordinaire that other teams are simply drooling over.
If that's the case and if Ruud is gone sometime next month, the Bucs have options, and they might be better than what they've had in Ruud the past seasons.
Nick Barnett: The Green Bay Packers may be ready and willing to part with Barnett. He's 30, so he's not that young, but hardly elderly. He was the 29th pick in the first round by the Pack out of Oregon State. He's 6'2'', 236 pounds and would fit nicely in Raheem Morris' defense.
Do the Bucs need to re-sign Barrett Ruud?
Stephen Tulloch: Tulloch was the 116th pick overall in 2006 by the Tennessee Titans. He's only 26, so he certainly fits in with the youth movement. He's 5'11'', 235 pounds and was a standout at N.C. State. There are other interested, including the Detroit Lions.
Paul Posluszny: Just call him "The Poz." He was the 34th overall pick by Buffalo. Again, he's only 26 so he fits in well. Came out of Penn State's linebacker factory and you know that Joe Pa has bright guys in those positions. He would fit marvelously in this defensive scheme. He's 6'1'', 238 pounds—nice size, perfect fit. The New York Giants are among the other teams interested in him.
Those are three great options.
There's still Tyrone McKenzie, the former USF star, who has put his heart and soul into learning the position. He has really nice size at 245 pounds and he will hit you like a ton of bricks.
Mason Foster may be the eventual man in the middle. He's a rookie and there is a learning curve with this position on this football team. No way it gets turned over to a guy who is untried and untested.
So if Barrett bolts, and many feel he will, there's talent out there.
And pretty good talent at that.