Bucs' General Manager Rich McKay has a good read on the team's salary cap status for years to come
Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans have a lot of ideas regarding possible personnel moves for their team, ranging from the mundane to the fantastic. On Tuesday, those fans had an opportunity to pose their thoughts and ideas directly to the man who actually engineers those moves, Buccaneers General Manager Rich McKay.
McKay participated in a 30-minute chat session with Bucs fans on Buccaneers.com Tuesday evening. Injuries to Mike Alstott and John Lynch weighed heavily on the fans' minds, but others also turned their attention to the Buffalo Bills, the playoffs and next spring's NFL draft.
A full transcript of McKay's thoughts on those issues and others follows.
Chat Session: Buccaneers General Manager Rich McKay, November 21
Rich McKay: Welcome. Let the games begin!
Guest: With all of the players Tampa Bay has re-signed, is the team in danger of having salary cap problems any time soon?
Rich McKay: No. As far as the salary cap goes, every deal we sign is looked at with short-term and long-term implications. Accordingly, we feel good about our salary cap situation over the coming seasons.
Guest: Who are your favorite and least favorite agents to work with (against!).
Rich McKay: I don't think I would ever list my least favorite, as this may come back to haunt me. I have done a lot of deals with Drew Rosenhaus, Jim Steiner, Leigh Steinberg, Ralph Cindrich, Eugene Parker...and, really, would have to say that, while each of those presents unique challenges, they are all good agents that you can trust and can do a deal with. In general, I think agents get a bad rap because, like anything else, there is too much emphasis when something negative occurs involving an agent, and not enough positive said about agents that do solid deals and do positive things for their clients.
Guest: What do you think of our chances to beat the Rams, and the Packers in their weather?
Rich McKay: Not to avoid the question, but quite frankly, I'm a little more focused on the Buffalo Bills. I will say that I continue to believe weather doesn't win nor lose football games.
Guest: What are Mike Alstott's and John Lynch's statuses?
Rich McKay: Mike has an MCL knee sprain that could sideline him anywhere from six to eight weeks. We will have a better understanding of his condition next week. John's shoulder is sore, as would be expected, and his injury is more driven by when the pain subsides, which is very hard to predict. He literally could be back for this game, although I doubt it, and may not be back for the Dallas game. We just don't know yet.
Guest: Do you still believe that trading two first-round picks for Keyshawn Johnson was a good idea?
Rich McKay: Obviously, my answer to this question is yes. In this business, the one thing that you must remember is that the analysis of any decision must not be done too quickly. Keyshawn is and is going to be an impact player on this football team for years to come. It would be unfair to in some way link our present record to any analysis of the trade.
Guest: With Alstott out for a while, will the Bucs go to a one-back running game, or can we expect someone to try and fill Mike's spot?
Rich McKay: We have run an awful lot of one-back to date and I think this will continue. As you saw Sunday, when Mike went out, Charles Kirby will come in and play fullback for us in the two-back set. Although it remains to be seen, I don't think you'll see a big difference in approach based upon Mike's injury.
Guest: What do you think the Bucs have to do in order to win this game against Buffalo?
Rich McKay: Buffalo is a very fundamentally sound football team on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Accordingly, although you hear it a lot, this is truly a team you can not afford to turn the ball over against. I think our players understand the importance of the game and the quality of the team. Like any week, our preparation on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be critical to our success on Sunday. From an offensive and defensive ranking standpoint, this is the best team we have played to date with the exception of the Redskins. Accordingly, it will take a great effort.
Guest: If John Lynch doesn't play this week, who is gong to fill in for him?
Rich McKay: Based upon our present injury status, I think Dexter Jackson would fill in for John this week.
Guest: A lot of the fans I have spoken with feel that a large portion of the blame for our 6-5 record is having Shaun King at quarterback. They feel in the offseason he should be replaced with Trent Green, or some other free agent, but I disagree. How do you feel about this, and do you have any plans for King's future?
Rich McKay: The most over-analyzed and misunderstood position on a football team is the quarterback. You've heard it a million times, but it is true that a quarterback gets too much credit when you win and too much blame when you lose. It's just not fair to say that we are 6-5 based upon the play of Shaun King. Shaun is a second-year quarterback that we have a lot of faith in, now and in the future.
Guest: Any early ideas of what position the Bucs will be targeting early in the first round of the draft next spring.
Rich McKay: My initial response is simple: we do not want to pick early in the first round! This would mean that we are not going to win a lot more games, and we intend to win more games. As far as positions go, we feel like we've done a pretty good job of trying to stay away from "need" as the determining factor in drafting players. Therefore, it's a little too early for us to even begin to speculate who would be available at our pick. Talk to me when we're on the clock in April, because then we'll have a better idea.
Guest: Do you think that Rob Johnson will be a big threat this week?
Rich McKay: Rob was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week last week against Kansas City and played a very solid game. While known for his accurate passing, Rob is a deceptive runner who, again last week, made a critical run for a touchdown. Any time you have a quarterback, like our own Shaun King, that combines the two skills of running and passing, it puts more pressure on your defense.
Guest: Seems many fans are ready to look to the draft already and give up on our season. I have been through every season as a fan and still look for the playoffs this year. What's the general mood of the players towards that end?
Rich McKay: I think the general mood is good. I think the guys understand the task at hand and in no way have lost focus on the goal. However, our sense of urgency must be immediate. I only hope our fans come to the game on Sunday with the sense of urgency that I think our players will.
Guest: Can you explain 'voidable years'? I've never understood that term.
Rich McKay: When a player signs a contract, he is signed for a term of years (e.g. five years). When you hear the term "voidable years", it means that, although the contract is being reported as a five-year contract, the player has the ability to void one or more years based upon his attainment of certain agreed-upon incentives. The reason you do voidable years from the player's perspective is so that you are not tied into a long-term contract that does not pay you what you believe your market value will become, based upon how well you believe you're going to play. Teams do not like to give voidable years because they create uncertainty in your salary cap and personnel planning. For instance, our team does not have one player with a voidable year in any contract.
Guest: WHEN the Bucs make the playoffs this year, who do you see as being the team to beat in the NFC?
Rich McKay: From our selfish standpoint, we would like to be the team to beat in the NFC. From the media hype and television scouting, it is really hard to predict who the team to beat in the NFC is at this time. The suspects are obvious, but all have shown certain weaknesses that were not anticipated. Only time will tell.
Rich McKay: I appreciate the questions, and I'll see you Sunday.