Despite a 2-14 record this year, the Buccaneers will be better represented in the Super Bowl than they were in the Pro Bowl this year. Five former Bucs players will be playing in Sunday's big game. Here's a look at those five players and if the Bucs made the right move in letting each one go.
Darrelle Revis - CB: The off-season of 2013 was a desperate one for the Buccaneers. Coming off a season where they were historically bad in pass defense, the Bucs knew they had to address their secondary. After signing safety Dashon Goldson to a massive contract, all sights turned to the Bucs bringing in one or two cornerbacks. While the rumors had already started about Revis, there were still some, including myself, who thought the Bucs should bring in Brent Grimes as well. Grimes went to Miami and has been fantastic.
The Bucs traded their 1st round pick in 2013 (Pro Bowler Sheldon Richardson) and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2014 to the Jets for Revis. The Bucs would sign Revis to a unique contract worth $16 million per season, but with no guaranteed money meaning the Bucs could release him at any time without penalty.
After Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik were fired after the 2013 season, one of the first acts of business new coach Lovie Smith and new GM Jason Licht did was try and trade Revis. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports explained how close the Bucs came to getting something in return.
"NFL sources said the Raiders and Browns both had deals with Tampa essentially in place for Revis, but those trades were scuttled when it became clear that's not where Revis would be interested in playing," La Canfora wrote.
The Bucs would end up releasing Revis and recovering their 3rd round pick in 2014, instead giving up their 4th round selection. While Revis went on to have a stellar season with the Patiots, the Bucs used that 3rd round selection on RB Charles Sims instead of addressing their major need at guard. With players like RB Tre Mason and OG Gabe Jackson still on the board at the time, the pick of Sims does not look very good just one year removed from making it.
Commish's Ruling: While I still wish the Bucs would have taken OG Gabe Jackson, who started 12 games for the Raiders in 2014 at right guard, with that 3rd round pick, I do think the Bucs made the right move in cutting ties with Revis. Hell, I don't think they should have ever made the trade for him to begin with. Not many non-quarterbacks are worth $16 million per season. Despite the players signed with the Revis money (Verner, Johnson, Collins) not panning out, it still makes more sense to spread that money out than spend it on one corner when that corner was not going to be used in the best way under Lovie Smith's defensive scheme.
LeGarrette Blount - RB: After drafting Doug Martin and making him his "bell cow" back, it was apparent that head coach Greg Schiano was done with Legarrette Blount. A couple years removed, new head coach Lovie Smith seems to feel strongly about his new RB Charles Sims and that Doug Martin might start to get phased out like Blount did.
The Bucs would trade Blount to the New England Patriots for the rights to RB Jeff Demps and a 7th round selection. Despite an incident with the Steelers, Blount has been very good for the Patriots as a power back.
Commish's Ruling: I was and still am a fan of Legarrette Blount. He made mistakes, but he's better than any running back the Bucs have had in the last 5 years. To trade Blount away for practically nothing is just another example of the Bucs organization shying away from talent to satisfy their character needs. While I still wait for Jeff Demps to be Jeff Tedford's "speed in space," I'll continue to believe that Blount's departure from the Bucs was a mistake.
Tim Wright - TE: The Bucs signed Tim Wright as an undrafted free agent wide receiver and started developing him as a tight end. He became Mike Glennon's only healthy best friend at the end of 2013. Wright was a very good receiving tight end, but was not much of a blocker.
With a new regime of Lovie Smith and Jason Licht now in play, one of the Bucs biggest threats in the pass game in 2013 was obviously being phased off the team. The signing of TE Brandon Myers and the drafting of TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the writing on the wall for Wright.
While many thought he'd just be cut at the end of the 2014 preseason, Wright was traded with a 4th round pick to the Patiots for OG Logan Mankins.
Commish's Ruling: I had no problem with the Bucs parting ways with Wright. I actually thought he was going to be cut, so trading him for anything was a positive, I guess. I kind of wish the Bucs still had that 4th round pick. I'm also not fond of having an average Logan Mankins counting $7 million against the Bucs salary cap. Yuck, remember the game he played in New Orleans this past season? Overall, it was a fine move by the Bucs...especially if they can recoup some of that $7 million owed to Mankins.
Jonathan Casillas - OLB: The Bucs initially signed Casillas as a free agent to a couple of 1-years deals in 2013 and 2014. With the emergence of Danny Lansanah and eventually Orie Lemon, Casillas was expendable.
The Bucs would trade Casillas and a 6th round pick to the Patriots for the Patriots 5th round pick in 2015.
Commish's Ruling: Casillas was not the present or the future for the Bucs. While the Bucs only gained a few spots in the draft, getting anything for Casillas was a positive.
Michael Bennett - DE: The Bucs invested four years into the development of Bennett. The versatile Bennett could rush from the edge or move inside and rush from the defensive tackle position. In a contract year in 2009, Bennett totaled 9 sacks before hitting the free agent market.
Bennett signed a 1-year deal with the Seahawks in 2013 before getting a contract extension in 2014. There were some concerns about a report he had a torn rotator cuff, but he played in every game in 2013. He also did not get along with Greg Schiano, which also led to him choosing to leave the Buccaneers.
Commish's Ruling: I still believe allowing Bennett to leave was one of the worst decisions the Bucs have made in the last 10 years. The Bucs are still trying to replace him with Bowers, Clayborn, Johnson, etc... Bennett has been fantastic for the Seahawks. I know, he hasn't had a 10 sack season, but listen to the way anyone with the Seahawks talks about him. Again, this is another example of the Bucs just allowing talent to up and leave. No wonder they were 2-14.
Follow Bucs Blitz on twitter: @TBBucsOnScout