You're not going to get any argument from me that both Brooks and Barber had fine seasons. But All-Pro? I don't think so.
The All-Pro team is the hardest team to make because they select just one player from each position and it draws from both conferences. The outside linebackers this year are New England's Mike Vrabel and Dallas' DeMarcus Ware. Ware had 60 tackles and 14 sacks. Vrabel had 55 tackles and 12 ½ sacks (these numbers are coming from SI.com). Brooks had a fine season, but he certainly wasn't as dominant as either player.
The All-Pro team is about rewarding the league's best players this year. While Brooks and Barber were both above average in 2007, I don't believe either was the best at their position.
How much salary cap space do the Bucs have this year? ?Gruden talked about getting a STAR this off-season — was he talking about Chad Johnson??A lot of the mock drafts have the Bucs selecting an O-Lineman in the first round. I don't agree with this. I would rather sign a veteran for the left tackle or rely on (Luke) Petitgout coming back. — ConnecticutBucsFan
Bucs GM Bruce Allen told the media last week that the Bucs have about $23 million in cap space to work with. That could go up or down, depending upon what the Buccaneers do in free agency. Both Gruden and Allen talked about getting "Tiger Woods" type players in their year-end press conferences, but made no mention of who they might go after (league tampering rules don't allow them to talk about acquiring players from other teams that are under contract). So there's no accurate way to gauge if they're interested in Johnson, who is apparently unhappy in Cincinnati and may pursue a trade, if published reports are accurate. As for all those mock drafts, at this time of the year you just never know. Our Scout.com Draft Expert, Chris Steuber, has done five mock drafts already and has slotted three different players to the Bucs — WR DeSean Jackson, OT Gosder Cherlius and OLB Keith Rivers. I wouldn't get hung up on that right now. Their line is set. The only position they may need to fill is at center, if John Wade tests free agency as some expect.
My prediction? We will be the No. 1 defense and Carnell Williams will get a thousand yards and win the 2008 comeback player of the year. — Kashaka
Bold, I like that. But I don't like the odds of your latter prediction.
Carnell Williams suffered a patellar tendon tear. The average rehabilitation time for that type of injury is nine to 12 months. Given that the injury happened in late September, the earliest you could realistically consider Williams ready to go would be late June — and that's if everything goes smoothly in his rehab. This is perhaps the most devastating injury a back can suffer. If it were his ACL, I'd feel a lot better about his being ready for training camp. Most doctors will tell you to assume the longer recovery period for an injury of that nature. So if it's 12 months, then it's late September and Williams is on the PUP list waiting to be activated. I just don't see him being ready for training camp, though Williams' recovery is all up to how much work he puts into it and no one can really gauge that.
As for that No. 1 defense, I think the Bucs are a solid free-agent pickup away from being No. 1. They really only have to shore up their run defense (ranked No. 17) and make sure their two top rookies, Gaines Adams and Tanard Jackson, progress. That has a real good chance of happening in 2008.
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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.