Action: The Titans are set to slap the franchise tag on DT Albert Haynesworth.
Reaction: NFL teams will ignore him like week-old Gouda cheese.
Analysis: Haynesworth was the top-ranked free-agent DT on the market and considered a Top 10 player by Scout.com's Tom Marino, a guy with 30 or so years of experience as a NFL scout. He was also the only player on the market that I would have overpaid for if I were in Bruce Allen's shoes because Haynesworth can play the run or the pass from the under tackle position. The Bucs are in need of help against the run up front and Haynesworth would have added that in spades. It does not surprise me at all that the Titans are set to put the franchise tag on him though. Now a team that signs him not only has to pay him but has to give up draft picks. That price is simply too much for the Bucs, who have plenty of other team needs.
The Buccaneers can now point their attention elsewhere. One intriguing candidate is former Falcons tackle Rod Coleman, who is now a free agent. Former Bucs tackle Chuck Darby is also on the market.
Action: The Falcons release TE Alge Crumpler.
Reaction: Does anyone have Crumpler's agent's cell phone number?
Analysis: The sudden release of Crumpler earlier this week automatically made him one of the top commodities on the free-agent market in 2008. Scout.com has him ranked as the No. 2 TE behind Indianapolis' Dallas Clark (a player likely to be hit with the franchise tag before free agency begins). Bucs fans know Crumpler well from his days in Atlanta and his release sparked immediate buzz on the Bucsblitz.com message board (the message? Sign him). He's a big target (6-foot-2, 264 pounds) with great hands who is also a capable blocker. He's caught at least 40 passes five of his seven NFL seasons and his best year came in 2005 — 65 catches, 877 yards, 5 touchdowns. Then he caught 8 touchdowns in 2006.
I like Alex Smith, but Crumpler is an immediate upgrade for an offense in desperate need of some weapons. And, with Anthony Becht and Jerramy Stevens set to be free agents, tight end is a need. The problem is there are plenty of teams out there looking for a starting tight end of Crumpler's obvious talent in free agency. If the Bucs aren't on the phone with Crumpler's agent at 12:01 a.m. the first day of free agency, they're just not very smart.
Action: The Buccaneers re-sign RB Michael Bennett.
Reaction: The Bucs downgrade RB to a second-tier draft need.
Analysis: The Bennett signing took me a bit by surprise. I had a "Free Agent Focus" article all ready to go regarding Bennett. But the signing is a good one for the Bucs, who really needed to do something to protect themselves regarding Carnell Williams' injury status. Now, Bennett's signing may only be the first step (he received a three-year deal), but it's a solid one. Bennett is a veteran who will now have a full year to understand Jon Gruden's complicated system. More importantly, Gruden will now have a year to get to know Bennett and, more importantly, trust Bennett on the field.
Signing Bennett gives them security. If free agency came and both Bennett and Michael Pittman left, the Bucs might have been forced to overpay for a lesser player or take a running back higher in the draft than they wanted to. Now, they can measure both markets and see if there's a reasonable third back without being forced to overpay.
Action: The Dolphins release LB Zack Thomas.
Reaction: The Dolphins apparently don't want to win in 2008.
Analysis: This is Bill Parcells' modus operandi — purge the roster. But Thomas has been the heart of this Dolphins defense for a long time and he deserved a bit better. I still think Thomas has plenty left in the tank and now he can offer that to any team in the NFL.
That being said, he won't be a Buccaneer. He's been in a 3-4 defense for a long time and he's better suited for that at this point in his career. He's looking at Dallas, which plays a 3-4, and New England is rumored to be interested to. I think he'll sign with a team that plays that style of defense. The Bucs won't get a sniff of this guy, and probably don't need to waste the energy courting him.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.