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Diner morning news: Tag threat may help Pats

They want Wilfork long term, but money issues need fixing. Also, are the Bucs serious? Michael Lombardi

Print This February 12, 2010, 10:40 AM EST

QUOTE: “I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.” -- Abraham Lincoln

Tags and Pats…

Thursday was the first day teams could apply the tag to any player whose rights they want to secure for the 2010 season. However, the day passed and the Patriots did not tender Vince Wilfork -- so does this mean they’re not going to tag their valuable nose tackle? Of course not. New England will eventually tag Wilfork before Feb. 25, but first it would like to get a long-term deal, so it must let the negotiation process run its course. This strategy applies to the Patriots and all the other teams in the league. Unless a team just wants to rent a player for one year, then there’s still time to get a long-term deal before placing the tag on him.

New England is too smart to let Wilfork walk out the door free and clear, and Wilfork is too much a part of the team to not feel this will get done. But these deals take time, and each day that passes, the Patriots will remind Wilfork that they want a long-term deal. But if they fail to get one before the deadline, they will tag him. This tag helps the Pats get Wilfork realistic about the negotiation process. No, Wilfork doesn’t want to be tagged, and in reality, the Patriots don’t want to tag him — they both want a long-term deal. But the money issues need to be resolved, and the threat of the tag helps the Patriots bring reason to the negotiation.

Bucs won’t be active in free agency…

Why do the Bucs have to make an announcement of their intentions in free agency? This statement was a huge letdown to their fans and doesn’t buy much goodwill. They can be inactive in free agency and not tell anyone, so what do they gain by being honest? Free agency might not have players who would interest the Bucs on the surface, but there has to be some player out there who can help them win.

Here is what Bucs GM Mark Dominik said: “I think the best way to look at it is kind of how I talked about in the past of how we are going to do it here. We are going to build through the draft. That is our No. 1 focus. That is our No. 1 drive. Because of that and where we are at, we have the ability to do a lot of different things in the draft. In that capacity, there is going to be a lot of committed cash to the draft this year. If you decide to move up or decide to move back and accumulate extra picks, those are also contracts. That is a lot of money in those contracts. That's not a small deal. That is the direction we are going to head through.”

The Bucs love to release statements declaring their intentions, which I’ve never understood. And each time they do this, they remind me they are never going to win. This statement from Dominik can only be used against him at a later date — so why put yourself in this position? The Bucs should be looking all over for players; they should not limit themselves solely to the draft since we all know a team that’s too young is never going to win. Too old or too young are something teams never want to be, and the Bucs need a blend. They need an experienced leader who can balance these delicate issues in team building. Just building through the draft means the Bucs will field a team of good young players for a new coach and general manger in 2011. They need to find the right blend.

I love the draft, but I love team building more. There has to be a balance between the two, and one area of player procurement can’t cure all. Free agency and no draft doesn’t work; just ask the 49ers. And the draft alone doesn’t work unless you have a veteran team in place. The Bucs’ offseason just got off to a bad start — all self-inflicted by their ridiculous statement.

Have a great Presidents Day weekend. Meet you back here for the Sunday Post.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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