The Buc fans' inside man returns to field questions about draft trades, Scot Brantley's biggest hit, players returning from injuries, and more//
I don't know how many of you out there saw it when it was posted back in April, but I enjoyed this read on Buccaneers.com about the next big team records that could fall in 2013. Josh Freeman got the passing yards and touchdowns records in 2012 and Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson will be back for another try after challenging the team's rushing and receiving standards, respectively.
Well, the Answer Man is about to break a record, too: Shortest column intro. I know my reputation for verbosity, but I don't really have anything to ramble on about right now, so let's get right to your questions.
As always, I encourage you to keep sending in your queries, which you can do right here. (And my archive, dating all the way back to 2004, is here.) I had a few good ones to work with this time around, but the mailbag is getting a little light. With some slow weeks ahead before training camp, it's a good time to get a discussion going, so hit me with your best shot!
- Todd Henderson of Tampa, Florida asks:
Hey, Answerman – guessing you watched as much draft coverage as I did so I'm wondering if you noticed the same thing. It seemed to me like the media…and one network in particular…kept making a point of saying that the Bucs got William Gholston for Aqib Talib because, you know, we got that pick in the trade with the Patriots. Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but it started to annoy me after awhile. It just seemed like it was being said in a negative way. I mean I didn't hear a lot of other picks described that way (did you) and I'm sure there must have been some other picks that teams got from trading players. I guess I'm asking, am I really being too sensitive…were you annoyed, too…how much did this happen in this draft? Take it in whatever direction you want, I guess, if you want to take my question. Thanks, Answerman.
Answer Man: Sure, I heard that, but I wasn't particularly annoyed by it. I suppose I just didn't take it negatively, whether or not the broadcaster meant it one way or another. I guess it comes down to how optimistic you are about Mr. Gholston. I'm bullish on the former Spartan, and so if you had told me two months ago that we could get a promising young pass-rusher in exchange for Talib, I would have been pleased. I mean, I think it's clear in retrospect that the Bucs were intent on trading Talib, and the fact that he was going to be a free agent after the 2012 season obviously affected his value. G.M. Mark Dominik had to get as much out of the deal as he could, and I think a straight-up trade for Gholston, had that been a possibility last fall (obviously, it wasn't) would have looked pretty good. IMO, at least.
I don't think you were being too sensitive – the Answer Man knows from 18 years of marriage that you can't tell somebody how they should feel – but I do imagine you noticed the commentary more in regards to the Bucs and Aqib Talib than to any other teams and their trade results. I say that because, honestly, I don't remember much talk of other deals and which players were eventually "traded" for whom, but it had to happen. I mean, the Bucs weren't the only team holding a pick they gained in a trade of a player. And, since, I think you sort of asked about that at the end of your question, let's take a look at the other deals that took place this year and how they eventually sorted out.
As usual, I'll set the terms first before diving into the research. First of all, the Talib trade was essentially the only one of consequence at least year's deadline. WR Mike Thomas went from Jacksonville to Detroit, but that was for a 2014 draft pick. So I am going to look only at trades since the start of the 2013 league year that involved one team getting a player and one team getting at least one pick in the 2013 draft. Also, if the pick gained by the team trading away the player is subsequently traded again, then I may ignore it as well, because at some point we're really starting to shave the idea of "value" gained in the trade. Actually, I'll list all the trades, even those that fall into one of the categories above, because there really aren't that many of them, but the only ones we'll discuss at any length are the ones like the Talib-Gholston "deal." Okay, here we go:
- San Francisco trades QB Alex Smith to Kansas City for a second-round pick in 2013 (#34 overall) and a 2014 conditional selection. Result: San Francisco eventually traded this pick to Tennessee, but only moved down six spots, and the sixth-round pick they got for the deal (along with a 2014 conditional pick) was later traded, too. That's starting to get complicated, but I think we can say that the main value the 49ers got for Smith was Florida State DE Tank Carradine, the player they took at #40. So it's Alex Smith for Tank Carradine, plus the five-pick jump they made in Round Three by trading away that sixth-rounder, and a 2014 pick still to come. I would imagine San Francisco feels pretty good about that one so far; they needed some new blood up front with Justin Smith getting up there in years, and Smith wasn't about to unseat Colin Kaepernick.
- Baltimore trades WR Anquan Boldin to San Francisco for a 2013 sixth-round pick (#199). Result: Baltimore used that pick as part of a package to move up from #62 to #56 in the second round to get LB Arthur Brown. I don't think that's enough to say this was a Boldin-for-Brown swap.
- Minnesota trades WR Percy Harvin to Seattle for 2013 first (#25) and seventh-round (#214) picks and a 2014 third-rounder. Result: Amazingly, the Vikings actually stayed pat with those two 2013 selections, taking Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes in the first round and North Carolina G Travis Bond in the seventh. (Seattle had gotten that seventh-round pick from Buffalo in exchange for QB Tarvaris Jackson, by the way.) So that one is Harvin for Rhodes and Bond, so far, with one pretty decent pick still to be put in play next spring. I can't imagine too many Vikings fans would be on board with that particular deal, but obviously the Minnesota brass was motivated to move Harvey.
- Tampa Bay trades WR Arrelious Benn, plus a 2013 seventh-round pick, to Philadelphia for a 2013 sixth-round pick (#196) and a conditional 2014 pick. Result: First of all, this was essentially a trade up by one round, since the Bucs gave back a seventh. Second, Tampa Bay ended up trading the pick to move up and get RB Mike James. Too many shades of value there to trace one-to-one.
- Seattle trades QB Matt Flynn to Oakland for 2014 and 2015 picks. Result: Jury still out, obviously.
- Cleveland trades QB Colt McCoy, plus a 2013 sixth-round pick (#173), to San Francisco for 2013 fifth (#164) and seventh-round (#227) picks. Result: We'll call the Browns haul here a trade up six spots (173 to 164) plus a seventh-rounder. The seventh-rounder was used on Chadron State G Garrett Gilkey. I know nothing about Chadron State G Garrett Gilkey, though I do now know that Chadron State is located in Northwest Nebraska, that its teams are called the Eagles and that it also produced Don Beebe and Danny Woodhead. This one is McCoy for Gilkey, essentially, which could end up being fairly inconsequential on both sides.
- Oakland trades QB Carson Palmer, plus a 2013 seventh-round pick (#219) to Arizona for a 2013 sixth-round pick (#176) and a 2014 conditional choice. Result: Again, that's basically a trade up, plus a pick still to be used next year, so not much to report on, one-to-one.
- The New York Jets trade CB Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay for a 2013 first-round pick (#13) and a conditional 2014 selection (either a third or a fourth). Result: The Jets could still get a pretty useful player out of next year' s pick, but right now the deal is Revis for Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson. This one seems like the closest analog to the Aqib-Gholston "deal." There are some, undoubtedly, who will feel that the Jets couldn't possibly get back proper value for the player widely considered the NFL's best cornerback, but Richardson seems like a good start, at least.
- New Orleans trades RB Chris Ivory to the New York Jets for a 2013 fourth-round pick (#106). Result: This one could have been fun, but the Saints went and packaged that pick with another fourth-rounder to move up to pick #82 in the third round and grab DT John Jenkins. It would be a stretch to say the Saints got Jenkins for Ivory.
- Tampa Bay trades RB LeGarrette Blount to New England for a 2013 seventh-round pick (#229) and RB/KR Jeff Demps. Result: Mark Dominik said this deal was basically Blount for the pick, with Demps being an add-in but not critical to getting it done. So maybe we could have done a one-to-one comparison here…except Dominik swiftly flipped that seventh-round pick to Minnesota in order to move up seven spots and get Mike James. Too much of a stretch to say that's a Blount-for-James deal, since the Bucs might have landed James even if they had stayed put at #196.
And that's it.
There isn't a whole lot to work with here in terms of comparison to the Talib-Gholston thingee. Basically, you have:
- QB Alex Smith for DE Tank Carradine and a little more still to come.
- WR Percy Harvin for CB Xavier Rhodes and G Travis Bond, plus one more decent pick still to be used.
- QB Colt McCoy for G Garrett Gilkey.
- CB Darrelle Revis for DT Sheldon Richardson, plus one more decent pick still to be used.
Personally, the Answer Man likes the first one, thinks the third one is not likely to be remembered and isn't too crazy about the second and fourth ones (from the standpoint of the team trading away the player). However, both of those latter deals still have one decent pick still to be used, so stay tuned.
- Joe from Merritt Island, Florida asks:
How does payroll work in the NFL? It must be standardized across the league? For instance, if a player makes 1.6 M a year is the pay once a week as in game day paychecks? Or is it annualized?
Answer Man: It sounds like your only talking about standard salary, not signing bonuses or other performance/attendance bonuses. Obviously, a signing bonus is paid upon signing and the other bonuses are paid upon achievement of those incentives.
But as for base salary, you're first guess is correct, or close to it. Players' salaries are paid via weekly checks, and that includes the bye week, so a year's pay is spread out over 17 payments. By the way, a player can take termination pay once in his career if he is a vested veteran, which is why it sometimes matters if the player is on the roster in Week One. If he is on a roster on the first week of the season and then is cut after that, he can take the termination pay.
- David Milroy of Dacula, Georgia asks:
Who did Scot Brantley tackle so hard, that this players helmet went flying off (like it was shot out of a cannon)?
Answer Man: By the way, to all those who send in questions, I normally don't edit your words much, other than minor typos and such, so that your personalities can come through in what you submit. However, David, I went ahead and fixed "Scott" to the proper spelling of "Scot" in your question, just so you wouldn't be in any danger of a peeved Mr. Brantley showing up at your house and tackling you as hard as he did…
Eric Hipple. Poor, poor, poor Eric Hipple, who might still be woozy to this day. That's the answer to your great question, David. And I would say more than Hipple's helmet came off; there were pieces of equipment and, seemingly, body parts flying in every direction when Brantley met him with a full head of steam near the left sideline at Tampa Stadium.
The play happened on November 24, 1985, on just the second play from scrimmage for Detroit in a game the Buccaneers would win, 19-16 in overtime. Hipple faked a handoff to RB Alvin Moore going left to right, then rolled left and tried to find a receiver. When none was available, Hipple scrambled towards the sideline, going around a block by FB James Jones on LB Chris Washington. At the beginning of the scramble, it looks like Hipple has a clear line of sight on Brantley, but he appears to lose track of him while going around Jones and Washington. Thus, Brantley arrives at full speed and apparently without any advance warning for Hipple, who is soon separated from various parts of his equipment.
Hey, you know what?! The clip is on YouTube, so you don't really have to rely on my description of the play. Here it is, in all its glory.
It's interesting to hear announcer Dan Fouts make a point of saying the hit is clean. It was a great hit, and perhaps it was clean, but there also might have been some helmet-to-helmet contact in there that sometimes draws a penalty and/or a fine these days. Hard to say. But the point is, it was not considered a dirty play and it likely remains a fond memory for Brantley and any other Buc fans who witnessed it.
- Travis of St. Cloud (Florida, I'm guessing) asks:
Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning both came back from injuries better than anyone could have ever expected. In Buccaneer history has there ever been a player to overcome something drastic, like an injury that's key to their position, and go on to have a great season? For example, AP's ACL tear.
Answer Man: Gotta be honest, Travis, I almost declined to answer your question because I'm not sure I can do it justice. The Answer Man has been around for a long time, but not the entire history of the franchise, and so I think my answer to this one will skew towards the last few decades. It's not easy to get real solid information on injuries from the early years; I can see which players missed time, and generally for what sort of injury, but I'm not sure I can tell you which were the more severe ailments. For instance, the great Lee Roy Selmon missed much of his rookie season due to knee and elbow injuries, and then came back to have a fantastic, 13-sack season in 1977. Perhaps that's a good answer to your question, but from what I can tell Selmon didn't require surgery on his knee, so it may not be as dramatic as Manning or Peterson.
But, heck, we can at least start the discussion on the topic. Maybe a Buc fan with great historical insight and franchise recollection can send me an e-mail telling me some good candidates I missed.
Anyway, the most obvious one that comes to my mind is Cadillac Williams. Now, keep in mind that both Peterson and Manning were absolute superstars before their injuries, and their rapid return to superstar level is what makes their stories so eye-catching. There are many, many players who come back from injuries such as ACL tears, some of them as quickly and impressively as AP (AD?) but without as much attention. Williams never really reached superstar status, but he had a very nice 2005 rookie season (interrupted by some minor injuries) before suffering a serious knee injury early in 2007. And it was really serious, involving a patellar tendon tear and other problems that had some wondering if his career was in jeopardy. He didn't make it back until near the end of the 2008 season, but looked pretty good when he did. Horribly, as he was in the midst of a fine performance against the Raiders in the season finale, Williams suffered a very similar injury to his other knee. Now things seemed grim. The Bucs signed RB Derrick Ward in free agency before the 2009 season and had Earnest Graham coming back as well, and there wasn't any certainty that Williams would make it back this time. However, not only did Williams return, he beat out Graham and Ward for the starting job and played a full 16 games for the first time in his career, rushing for 823 yards and four touchdowns and catching 28 passes for 217 yards and three more scores.
Center John Wade saw his 2004 campaign end after five games due to a dislocated knee, which hurts just to type. He was rather impressively back at his spot in 2005, starting all 16 games for a team that won the division and made the playoffs. Guard Davin Joseph suffered a broken foot in November of the 2010 season, which is obviously a troublesome injury for an offensive lineman (or anyone, really). He returned in 2011 and played in every single offensive snap for the Buccaneers, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. Cornerback Brian Kelly tore a pectoral muscle about five weeks into the 2003 season, making it hard for him to even lift his arm, which, you know, could be a problem for a defensive back. He came back in 2004 and played every game, leading the team with four interceptions. Mike Alstott famously returned from a 2003 neck injury to power his way through two more seasons for the Buccaneers. The '04 and '05 campaigns were not Alstott's most prolific, but he added nine more touchdowns to his franchise-record total and was still a very useful player on offense. Just last year, second-year DE Da'Quan Bowers came back from a torn Achilles tendon in May and made it onto the field in November, which is pretty remarkable.
I know you were probably thinking more along the lines of ACL tears than broken bones, as the healing process is usually longer and a little more uncertain for the former type of injuries. So Caddy probably is my best answer to your question. Here's one more unusual one, though: With five games left in the 1998 season, linebacker Hardy Nickerson had to be sidelined when he was diagnosed with pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart, often caused by infection. That just sounds scary. Nickerson was back on the field in 1999, part of an incredibly good defense and the team's second-leading tackler with 141 stops.
- Kevin Zimmerman of Clearwater, Florida asks:
I know from everything I read and saw during his retirement that Ronde Barber has played in the most games in Buc history, with like 3 billion games or something. I believe Derrick Brooks is right up there two because both of those guys never got hurt and played forever. I'm guessing Dave Moore and Mike Alstott are up there, too. Hey who needs the Answer Man – I've already got all the answers! Just kidding Answer Man – you're the best and I AM asking for your help. What I want to know is who holds that record at every position for the Buccaneers. Like, if you were making an all-longevity team or something. How about a starting lineup of the players with the most games at every position? Could we see that, please? Thanks again, AM!
Answer Man: Don't tease me, man! I live in fear every day that the internet is going to make my job obsolete (And, honestly, many of these questions could be answered by a little surfing, but I'm thrilled that you guys are still leaving it up to me to do the research…I've got bills to pay, superhero union dues and things like that.) Plus, you were a little off on Ronde's games total; it's 241, not three billion. Close, though.
Okay, if I'm reading you right, you want a 22-man starting lineup of the players with the most games played at each position, not a list of the top 22 players in that category in team history. Heck, that's the way I'm reading you whether I'm right or not, so that's what you're going to get. I'm not necessarily going to break it down by right tackle and left tackle, right DE and left DE, strong safety and free safety, etc. I'll give you the top two tackles, top two guards, top center, etc. I'm also going to go with a 4-3 defense, because that's my prerogative. Ready? Here it is:
* Tie between Chidi Ahanotu and Lee Roy Selmon
So my method for coming up with this list was to first write down every player who had played in at least 100 games for the Bucs, sorting them by position. I'm sure I would have had a really awesome Step Two in this method…but Step One pretty much took care of it. I ended up with the necessary players at every position except one, which you can see above is quarterback. Moreover, there weren't too many extras left over at any position, save for one.
For instance, after Gruber and Taylor there is only one other tackle who played in 100 games for the Bucs: Pete Pierson. There were two pretty memorable centers who got aced out by Tony Mayberry: Steve Wilson (126) and Randy Grimes (118). There were no other running backs or receivers, though Jimmie Giles (121) and Ron Hall (101) made it over 100 to rank behind Moore at tight end.
The position that was a pretty massive exception was linebacker. Of the 34 men who have appeared in at least 100 games for the Buccaneers (so far), seven have been linebackers. So after the leading trio of Brooks, Quarles and Wood, you still have Scot Brantley (114), Cecil Johnson (111), Jeff Gooch (105) and Hardy Nickerson (104).
I'd have to guess that the most surprising part of this list for most readers will be the receivers. Remember that I was asked to base this team on games played, not starts. You'd get a different list if it were starts, probably the one you expected. It would be Kevin House (81) and Mark Carrier (80), though Gerald Carter is still third at 61. Not Joey Galloway, Michael Clayton, Keyshawn Johnson, Courtney Hawkins, Bruce Hill, Morris Owens or even Mike Williams? Nope. All of those guys come in between 47 and 56 starts, though Williams will be building on his total in a few months.
The fact that no quarterbacks have hit 100 games played is an indication that the team hasn't yet found that 10-year franchise starter (though Josh Freeman may eventually change that). Trent Dilfer came the closest, so far, though he only has the lead over Vinny Testaverde by three games (79 to 76). Third on the list, perhaps surprisingly, is not Doug Williams or Brad Johnson but Steve DeBerg, at 64.
Anyway, thanks for that question, Kevin. That was fun. Might also be fun to do a list where we use games started instead of played, if anybody were to ask me that in the future (hint, hint).
Finally, I'm not going to get to it in this column, but Matt from Orlando, I really enjoyed your question about the chain gang. I know your wife will be eagerly awaiting the answers, and I'll put it in my next column. As for everyone else out there, I'm probably going to need some new material to go along with Matt's question, so send in yours and we'll see if we can get a discussion started. Again, here is the link to the page where you can submit a question any time you wish.