As the NFL Lockout thankfully fades away into our collective memories, free agency and training camps kick into high gear. Sunday on the Insiders Show, we had the opportunity to speak with one of the biggest fish in the free agency pool in G Davin Joseph.
Joseph should be one of the most coveted interior offensive lineman on the market and will undoubtedly gain interest from a multitude of teams and, ultimately, a hefty contract. Under the new league rules, Joseph cannot sign a new contract until Friday, although his agent is free to negotiate with teams as of 10 am Tuesday morning. If signed, Joseph cannot practice with his new team until August 4. Thus, he has plenty of time to consider his options and increase his suitors and potential offers.
Joseph shared some of his thoughts on the now-accepted collective bargaining agreement, his free agency expectations, and the productivity of his offensive line mates last season:
Q: (On how he anticipates the upcoming weeks to progress [prior to executive committee vote on Monday]): “I really don’t know. I just told myself I’m gonna ride the wave. Going forward, hopefully the deal is a good deal. Things are in the right places. We had a few issues that I’m hoping will be resolved. I know guys were complaining about franchise tagging, things of that sort. Just want to be able to hit the free market. It will be interesting to see how the vote goes, but once we do get a deal, and the way that we want to pack everything into that 72-hour period, unrestricted free agency, training camps opening up; boy, it’s going to be interesting. I know the coaches and the GMs, they’ve got to have a plan. Hopefully, some of the teams, especially our team, have a plan going forward with signing back most of the guys that we had from last year so we can get into camp and get rolling.”
Q: (On negotiations prior to the lockout): “I believe we were in the negotiating phases, some tentative stuff before the lockout. Hoping that the lockout wouldn’t happen back in March. But of course, contact has been limited to none. Right now, I have to go off what was going on in February and March, hoping Tampa has a plan for me, for Trueblood, for Stovall, for Cadillac, for Barrett Ruud, that they have a plan for us. Because right now we can’t afford to bring in too many new guys, especially coming off such a successful year last year. We want to be able to get the same guys back and be able to take that momentum we built last year and bring it on into this season.”
Q: (On whether locker room/team adds incentive to stay): “(It would be) hard to leave. Love the team, love the coaches, love the direction, love the community. Working in the community, my non-profit work, things of that sort. I don’t want to leave. The thing that sucks the most about free agency is that it is a business. We sit here and look at a lockout that’s gone past 130 days. It just shows you that football is a business. But in a perfect world, of course, I want to stay back in Tampa, where I take pride in wearing a Buccaneers’ helmet. I take pride in playing on Sundays for Tampa. There would be no other place I’d rather play besides Tampa. But, just the reality of football is that it is a business.”
Q: (On the number of different injuries and offensive line combinations last season): “It was tough, but we were blessed to have some guys come in with unique talent. With James Lee, and especially Ted Larsen, being able to come in and compete at a high level really just added a lot of depth to the (offensive) line. At times, things were tough. The run game at times was really tough. Trying to find our identity, I guess you could say, in the run game. As the season went on, we were able to find it, keep it, and run with it. It really helped the offense overall. Going with those different (offensive) line combinations was tough last year, but with that work being done already, we know that it can be done and we can have success with it. That’s probably what motivates you the most knowing that we have the depth with James, and with Ted Larsen. Also with Derek Hardman. We have deep, solid (offensive) linemen that can play just about everywhere.”