Making the unlikely ascension (actually it was more like a resurrection) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010 even more impressive was the fact that ownership has been operating the team on a shoestring budget for the past several years.
Apparently, that’s going to change.
In a recent chat at TampaBay.com, Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times wrote that the Glazers “swear” they’ll spend when the Buccaneers are ready to compete for the Super Bowl. Shelton said his information comes from a 30-minute discussion in late March with co-chairman Joel Glazer, who explained that spending in the NFL is an issue of “cycles.”
But is it? Does it make sense for an NFL franchise to dog paddle with a tightened belt in the hopes of putting together a nucleus of young players and then breaking out big money either for keeping those good young players in place or adding established veterans? Or should a franchise have a sustained commitment to spending in the hopes of being competitive on a year-in and year-out basis?
The fact that the Glazers believe spending should occur in cycles confirms the importance of both a salary floor and a salary cap, preferably without much spread between the two. The absence of either device would permit a team to accept a few down years — and stuff their coffers with the money saved on salaries — and then overspend when the team believes there’s a chance to win it all.
For the sake of long-term competitive balance, it makes more sense to have consistent maximums and minimums that apply to spending. There needs to be a sense for every team that each year could be the year that ends with the hoisting of the Lombardi Trophy.