Huddle Up: Greg Schiano set to send Kellen Winslow packing
Throughout the NFL’s lengthy offseason, “Huddle Up” will provide you with a quick take on an important story or development from around the league:
It is almost inevitable that when an NFL team makes a major coaching change like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did this offseason, a dramatic personnel shift is to follow.
Such is the case with veteran tight end Kellen Winslow, who told Ross Tucker on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio that he was informed by new Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano that the team is going “in a different direction” and will try to trade him. That revelation comes on the heels of a report that the Bucs worked out tight end Dallas Clark, formerly of the Colts.
Based on the last couple of seasons, it’s hard to see the logic in a possible Winslow-for-Clark tradeoff — Clark suffered through back-to-back injury-plagued seasons in 2010 and ’11, catching just 71 balls combined, and considered retirement at one point this summer; Winslow has averaged nearly 73 receptions in his three seasons with the Bucs.
But Winslow also said Monday that Schiano and Co. weren’t all that thrilled that Winslow, who battled through a sore knee last season, has skipped the team’s offseason workouts thus far.
That probably played some role in the Buccaneers’ decision to head in a different direction. Schiano sent a similar message earlier this offseason when the team released safety Tanard Jackson — Jackson also skipped Tampa Bay’s early workouts under Schiano, after undergoing surgery in January to repair a torn rotator cuff. Jackson also missed most of 2010 and five games in 2011 because he violated the league’s substance abuse policy.
No matter the background info, Schiano’s message is coming across loud and clear: You are expected to show up and you are expected to work.
Winslow may simply wind up with a pink slip, like Jackson, if the Buccaneers can’t find a trading partner, but Winslow’s contract isn’t bad for a team looking to deal for him. While he still has three years left on the six-year, $36.1 million deal he signed to jump from Cleveland to Tampa Bay in 2009, none of that remaining money is guaranteed. Such financial freedom could entice a tight end-needy team, even with Winslow currently set to earn $3.3, $4.5 and $5.5 million over the next three seasons, respectively (numbers that could, and probably would, be reworked with his new team, in the event of a trade).
Several franchises could use a pass-catching tight end — Buffalo, Chicago and Oakland all come to mind as teams with a bit of a need. The Bears may have set a bit of a market for any possible Winslow trade with last year’s deal that sent Greg Olsen to Carolina for a third-round pick. Given Winslow’s nagging knee issues, the Buccaneers may be hard-pressed to get that type of value.
Without Winslow or Clark, the Bucs’ tight-end depth chart would be headed by Luke Stocker, who made 12 catches last season. Currently behind him are Chase Coffman, Zack Pianalto and 2012 seventh-round pick Drake Dunsmore.
There’s obviously some room to improve there, hence the interest in an aging Clark. Winslow would have been the obvious choice as the Buccaneers’ No. 1 tight end, but Schiano’s aim right now is to lay a foundation for future success.
Doing so with any player buying in at less 100 percent effort has been deemed, rather emphatically, unacceptable.