SI Vault
Clean Slate
Peter King
March 29, 2004
New G.M. Bruce Allen is wasting no time shaking up the Bucs
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 29, 2004

Clean Slate

New G.M. Bruce Allen is wasting no time shaking up the Bucs

View CoverRead All Articles

Moving On

Last week was a big one for high-profile wideouts as four of them changed uniforms. Here's how they stack up (2003 statistics).






David Boston, Dolphins





This 6'2" 240-pounder can stretch a defense, and it's a low-risk contract for Miami

Joey Galloway, Bucs





He had 22 TD catches over 1997 and '98, but with only 13 since, is he still a playmaker?

Keyshawn Johnson, Cowboys





Bill Parcells gets his move-the-chains man and a security blanket for Quincy Carter

Terrell Owens, Eagles





He's happy, but he gave up 61.4% career passers in S.F. for a 57.0% Donovan McNabb

Retooling a once mighty NFL team in the salary-cap era is never pretty. Take the case of the Buccaneers, with new general manager Bruce Allen: In the first two weeks of free agency Tampa Bay, 14 months removed from winning a Super Bowl, signed 17 new players and cut ties with three stars.

One of those ushered out was 11-year safety John Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowl player whose departure upset Bucs fans. With Lynch coming off neck surgery, Allen and coach Jon Gruden feared he might not be the player he once was and decided they couldn't risk allocating $4 million a year in cap space to bring him back. Talk-show callers vilified Allen, who arrived from Oakland in January, as a carpetbagger, and the media joined in. "A community was stricken as if one of its baby kittens had been drowned," wrote Tampa Tribune columnist Martin Fennelly. "With all the delicacy of a Sopranos whacking, Raiders East stuck one of its growing collection of long knives in Lynch's back."

Also, the Bucs made no attempt to re-sign All-Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who last Saturday agreed to a seven-year, $36.6 million deal with Oakland. After his latest move—the much anticipated trade last Friday of disgruntled wideout Keyshawn Johnson to the Cowboys for receiver Joey Galloway—Allen shrugged off all criticism. His father, George, was the controversial coach of the Rams and the Redskins. His brother, also named George, is a U.S. senator from Virginia.

"Having a brother in politics makes this [criticism] seem like Little League," Allen said last Friday. "This is the business we're in. I love John Lynch, but to keep great people like John forever, that's Disney World. We've got to find a way to beat Carolina and win our division, and Carolina was better than us up front last year. But some people look at me like I came to this job from the NHL, not the NFL."

Indeed, his best acquisitions were starting tackles Todd Steussie (late of the Panthers) and Derrick Deese ( 49ers); they should be an upgrade over Roman Oben and Kenyatta Walker. Running back Charlie Garner, formerly of the Raiders, may be 32, but over the past five years he has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 67 catches a season. When healthy, he's quicker and has better hands than incumbent Michael Pittman. The addition of Galloway is interesting because he hasn't had a great year since 1998. "I hope we make an effort to utilize what it is that I do," says Galloway, who in his last three seasons with the Cowboys never played with a skilled passer. "You'll see me going deep and stretching defenses. I haven't lost a step."

However, unless Gruden is planning to work strong-armed second-year man Chris Simms into the lineup, Galloway would appear to be a mismatch for the Tampa Bay offense. Short and intermediate throws are quarterback Brad Johnson's strong suit. While Gruden says he's sticking with Johnson as his starter, the coach's actions would suggest otherwise. The Bucs had serious discussions with former 49er Jeff Garcia before he signed with the Browns.

Either way, the Bucs look better on offense, to be sure. But when you consider that they haven't added to a fast-aging defense, Allen still has miles to go before he sleeps.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]