High Five: A 'Shockey' situation

As the "High Five" returns, I take a look at five key issues surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including coaching departures and hires, the future of TE Jeremy Shockey, Bucs ticket prices and the upcoming scouting combine. It's all here in his weekly premium feature at Bucsblitz.com.

1. ONE GOING AND ONE ADDING ON

This was probably a footnote to most Bucs fans on Wednesday, but Aaron Kromer, who assisted Bill Muir on the offensive line the past few years, took a similar job with the New Orleans Saints.

Now, Kromer is a Jon Gruden guy. Kromer worked with Gruden in Oakland and Gruden brought him here after his contract with the Raiders expired.

I can only surmise that Kromer had hoped that Muir might retire after the 2007 season. There was some thought that Kromer was Muir's eventual replacement. But after Muir's fine job tutoring the offensive line last year, Kromer likely saw the writing on the wall and left.

So watch when the Saints and Bucs play each other next season. It'll be interesting to see if Kromer is able to give Saints head coach Sean Payton any insight on the Bucs. Because you know Payton will ask.

Meanwhile, the rumor is that Richard Bisaccia will add running backs coach to his list of duties with the Bucs. Several media outlets have reported this, but there has been no official announcement from the Bucs as of yet.

Bisaccia has pulled double-duty on the college level, and it's believed he'll get plenty of assistance from one of the team's lesser assistants, Tim Berbenich.

I'm not totally in love with this move. Running back is a key position and there are going to be some new pieces on the Bucs this year. Bisaccia is one of the team's best coaches, but I can't imagine splitting his time between special teams and running backs is going to be easy.

This, however, could be a savvy career move for Bisaccia. If he's able to show he can handle both jobs on the pro level — and keep his charges successful — it could be the prelude to an offensive or defensive coordinator's job for Bisaccia either in Tampa Bay or somewhere else, if that's something he's interested in.

2. THE PURSUIT OF SHOCKEY

You have to love this time of year if you're a reporter. It allows you the opportunity to speculate on a great many things.

Take a blog entry early this week on TBO.com. Roy Cummings hypothesized that the Bucs could be interested in trading for Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey.

The Bucs always tell us they're interested in adding as much talent as possible. And there's merit to Cummings' argument.

Anthony Becht is likely to opt out of his contract and test free agency. Jerramy Stevens is an unrestricted free agent. The Bucs could lose both. In fact, after the Seattle Times resurrected the troubles of Stevens in an article last month, I think you can bank on it. Bucs GM Bruce Allen called most of the story "old information" when the print media talked to him at the Super Bowl. But we were told later that he said something far different to WDAE's Steve Duemig. Since I was in Arizona at the time, I couldn't tell you for sure.

The Bucs could be in a situation where they would be left with Alex Smith — who is in the final year of his contract — and Keith Heinrich. That won't cut it. The Bucs will likely need to add at least one tight end, perhaps two, in free agency or the draft. The tight end is a big part of Gruden's offense, most notably in blocking sets that use two tight ends.

Shockey is undeniably talented. He also has the ability to be a major-league distraction off the field, something the Bucs have gone to great pains to avoid the past few years. Or do you think Simeon Rice was released simply for his shoulder issues?

I would look upon any talk of acquiring Shockey with skepticism because I think the price would be too high. Cummings speculated it would take a second-round pick to wrest Shockey from the Giants. He also speculated that it might take a player like Chris Simms thrown into the deal.

Simms wouldn't concern me as much. The draft pick would. The Bucs are still in a situation where they must turn over certain parts of their roster for younger players and their best avenue to do so is the draft.

Now, if the Bucs have a perfect free-agency period and achieve most of their goals, then dangling a third-round pick and Simms to the Giants for Shockey would be feasible.

But if they don't, then hang on to the pick. The price may be too high for a player that, while talented, has the potential to also be a handful.

3. GREENER PASTURES?

Nobody shakes up a roster like Bill Parcells. Did you see what he did to the Miami Dolphins earlier this week? He and GM Jeff Ireland released several players, including QB Trent Green and LB Zack Thomas.

Which brings up an inevitable question — is Gruden interested in Green?

Let's face it. When a decent quarterback comes on the market anyone who covers or watches the Bucs has to ask that question. Quarterbacks are Gruden's addiction, after all.

Considering the Bucs already have an old(er) quarterback in Jeff Garcia, I would have to say the answer is no. Green, I think, still has some value, but I think there's just as big a chance he'll be forced to retire as there is for him to play another season. He's had two scary concussions in two years and I think that will scare a lot of teams off.

Besides, I believe the one veteran retread Gruden won't be able to resist this offseason will be Daunte Culpepper. The Bucs can get him cheap, sit him for a year behind Garcia and then let him compete for a starting job in 2009.

C'mon, you and I both know Gruden just can't resist.

I feel for Green, though. He's been a good soldier for a long time. He's overcome all sorts of injuries and for a time he was one of the league's most productive quarterbacks. He deserves a chance to go out on his terms, and I hope he uses his head the right way this offseason and retires.

4. ANOTHER REASON I'M GLAD I'M IN THE MEDIA

The Bucs announced their new ticket prices last week and, well, I'm sure fans are feeling the pinch.

The cheapest general admission seat went up 33 percent and the most expensive general admission seat went up 30 percent. Most of the other seats went up an average of $5-10 more.

Given the grim news about the economy the past few months, do the Bucs really expect people to take their tax rebate checks and spend them on game tickets? I can't see that.

Football is a business. Don't let anyone tell you differently. I see it everywhere when I'm at the Super Bowl, the biggest moneymaking day of the year for the NFL.

Allen told us that the Bucs' ticket prices would remain in the middle of the NFL, even with the increases.

But I have to wonder. How much will eventually be too much — even for the almighty NFL? Could the Bucs' sellout streak take a hit this fall?

We'll see.

5. GOING TO INDY

Next week I'll freeze my butt off at the National Scouting Combine for the first time in my career.

I've never been and I'm very interested to see how the whole thing plays out. From what I understand, I'll only be able to watch the workouts on closed-circuit television, but I'll be able to interview countless numbers of prospects.

My aims for you, fair reader, are two-fold — keep you updated on who the Bucs are talking to and bring you as many features on as many players as possible.

So make sure you stop by Bucsblitz.com regularly, starting on Thursday, Feb. 21, for constant updates from myself and the rest of the Scout.com staff that will be in Indy.

We'll have the place completely covered.

Want the inside scoop on the Buccaneers, from locker room updates to insider information on free agency and the NFL Draft? Click here to subscribe.

Listen to Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins every Tuesday with former Buccaneers linebacker Scot Brantley on WHBO 1470 ESPN Radio in Tampa and Clearwater from 3-6 p.m. If you miss the show, check out Bucsblitz.com's exclusive team media center for Postins' archived appearances.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.


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