ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas put together an interesting article (Cheapskates? No, Bucs actually have a plan) on the Bucs' owners, the Glazers, and how the view around the league that the Buccaneers have gone cheap is unwarranted.
It's an fascinating tale, detailing the Bucs new frugal approach after a period in salary cap hell, and how the Bucs actually have been doling out big contracts to Kellen Winslow, Michael Clayton, Derrick Ward, and others.
It's true that the Buccaneers haven't been "Culverhousian" in their approach to paying players and bringing in talent, still that doesn't tell the entire story.
If you look at the contract signed by Buccaneer players over the last couple years, very few have signing bonuses.
What does that mean? It clearly is evidence that the Glazer family does not have the upfront liquidity to fund large bonuses.
While Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is fond of saying that the Bucs offered him more money, you have to wonder if he's speaking of the overall contract.
Perhaps in this one instance, the Glazers decided to pool their resources, and bite the bullet to get Haynesworth. Or more logically, perhaps the reason Haynesworth really chose the Skins wasn't because of the beaches and other distractions of Florida, but the fact that there was more upfront money in the Redskins deal.
So what's happening? Since 2004, when the Glazer family purchased Manchester United football (soccer to us Yanks) club for a reported $1.47 billion dollars, spending for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers substantially subsided.
As Yasinskas pointed out, part of that was due to the Bucs awful salary cap situation. However, the Bucs came out of cap hell by 2006. That doesn't excuse them for spending the least of any franchise in the league, over the past three years.
Yasinskas also doesn't mention that of all the teams in the National Football League, the Buccaneers are among the most profitable, because of the sweat-heart lease they have at Raymond James Stadium.
Essentially, the Bucs practically play there for free, and get all concession money for any event held in the stadium. That's why USF has considered building their own stadium, and the Tampa Bay Muntiny MLS team went out of business (well that and soccer sucks, but I digress).
The Bucs also take part in NFL revenue sharing, getting millions.
So where is all that money going? Well, it's definitely not going into the franchise. The interest payment alone on the ManU purchase (reportedly £62 million or $98 million US a year) is staggering. You'd have to imagine that the money, any money, the Glazers can get their hands on goes to that figure.
If the Glazers await returns from the NFL, and Raymond James Stadium, to make payroll for the Buccaneers, than here's the problem—that money isn't there until the football season starts. It makes the Bucs unable to pay huge signing bonuses for players.
The Bucs' payroll stays low because they can't be in the market for those top free agents, unless the Glazers pull from Manchester United. If they did that, they would need armored cars and bullet proof windows to keep the crazies away from them.
Manchester United is beloved throughout the world. There would be no where the Glazers would be safe if ManU fans, who already hate the idea that Americans own the club, think the Glazers are taking money that could be used for those ridiculous transfer fees in the Premier League.
With the firing of Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden, the Bucs daily books look a bit better. Certainly, the Bucs do have to pay out the remainder of those contracts, but on the flipside, the Bucs now have one of the lowest paid coaching staffs in the league.
With one of the lowest player payrolls in the league, and administrative staff being laid off, the Bucs are probably looking the most profitable they have ever been in their existence.
Potential buyers would be greatly interested in such a high profit property.
If I were a betting man, I'd say the Glazers have put the Bucs on the market, but the economy is suspect now, and it's making it difficult to find suitors that would meet the Glazers' price tag.
The need to sell may get urgent. At one point the Buccaneers had a 100,000 person waiting list for season tickets. Now the Glazers are offering half-season packages just to get people in the stands. None of the games are sold out, (although the first two games did eventually have the blackout lifted) and there's a great danger that the Bucs may start seeing crowds in the 30s, 40s and 50,000s—something that hasn't happened here since 1996.
If the Glazers can't sell the Bucs, there may be a need to take some of that ManU money and rebuild the Bucs fan base.
Better call Jack Bauer, Joel and Bryan.