- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"We got a deal," said Hendrickson. "You're getting a hell of a player, and a hell of a kid."
Shortly after Dimitroff finished the call, Polk walked into the G.M.'s office and said, "We've got to change one thing." He went to the grease board, wiped off an escalator clause for the 26-year-old Edwards and scribbled new numbers, showing Dimitroff how he'd changed the clause with Hendrickson at the end of the negotiation. "If you do a per-year escalator," Polk said, "that could be a one-year spike in production. We'd rather do the escalator based on what a player does over three or four years."
"Great," said Dimitroff. "It's better for us."
Finally on Friday afternoon Dimitroff got to see his players practice. He stood in the middle of the field as his offense ran plays 50 yards away. He watched for Jones's quickness off the line and gauged how well backup wideout Kerry Meier, projected to replace waived veteran Brian Finneran, was running after knee surgery last year.
"See you for a second?" said trainer Marty Lauzon. Dimitroff walked to a quiet spot, where Lauzon told him that backup tight end Robbie Agnone—who'd missed 2010 with a foot injury—had reinjured the foot. Dimitroff went back to the drills. Five minutes later Polk pulled him aside to tell him that Jason Snelling, a core Falcons special teams player, wanted to test the market. Then assistant director of player personnel Lionel Vital came by to tell Dimitroff that veteran defensive end Ty Warren, cut earlier in the day by the Patriots, might be available for a minimum contract.
Around 10 that night Dimitroff walked through the locker room, a man in need of levity. He found it. The just re-signed Clabo was chuckling at some construction work his teammates had spent far too much time on. A few cardboard boxes had been sculpted into a faux ATM. Someone had written TYSON CLABO, ACCT BALANCE $12,000,000—the amount of Clabo's signing bonus.
"That is fantastic!" Dimitroff said.
"Evidently," said Clabo, "these guys don't know about the concept of income tax yet."
Funny thing is, Dimitroff was loving it. "When Smitty and I came here in 2008," he said, referring to his coach, "one of my goals was that we were going to enjoy this journey. We were going to create an environment where people liked coming to work and building a great product. So when we're negotiating Justin Blalock's contract, it's not like I'll say to Nick Polk, 'Get this damn thing done, Nick!' This is part of the process, so let's enjoy it. And if we can't, let's at least enjoy the challenge of building the team in a time when football's changing."
That explained Dimitroff's smile in the wee hours last Saturday morning as he listened to Dogra launch into a metaphor about an episode of The Brady Bunch, whose meaning no one was too clear on. It was getting late—it was late—and people were punchy. "So just kiss your sister," Dogra said. "I'm 6.75, you're 6.33. The number's 6.5. That's what it is."