When a player who just had what is considered a down year and is set to make a decent amount of money, teams have to ask themselves whether it is in their best interest to move on. That's what happened with the Buccaneers and Donald Penn last offseason.
Penn was coming off a season in which the former Pro Bowler gave the second most sacks in the league (12). The Bucs decided with the 31-year-old left tackle set to earn $6.75 million in 2014, they would seek a younger 'upgrade'. So, they went out and signed former Bengals free agent tackle, Anthony Collins. Once they had Collins in place, they cut ties with Penn.
Penn quickly found a home in Oakland where the Raiders had lost Jared Veldheer to free agency and were scrambling to replace him following the failed attempt at signing Rodger Saffold. Penn was signed to a 2-year, $9.6 million contract and the Los Angeles native was happy to join the team of which he grew up a fan.
The cost of Penn's replacement in Tampa was a 5-year, $30 million contract with $15 million guaranteed and a $9 million signing bonus, making the per-year cost to the Bucs pretty similar to what Penn was to make. However, with Penn they would have just 2 years left on the 6-year deal he signed back in 2010. With Collins, if things didn't work out, they would still have a lot of money tied up in him.
Things have not worked out.
Just a year later, the Buccaneers are reportedly shopping Collins who was one of the worst pass blocking tackles in the NFL last season. And they are highly unlikely to find anyone who will take on his contract and therefore would be forced to live with their decision.
In Penn's down season in 2013 the Bucs had Mike Glennon at quarterback, who showed a complete lack of pocket awareness and was sacked quite a bit because of it. They made Josh McCown another of their big free agent signings last offseason as well. He started most of the season on an utterly inept offense, and was cut after one season as the Bucs gear up to take a QB with the number one overall pick.
Meanwhile, Penn had a bounce back season in Oakland and was rated by Pro Football Focus to be among the top ten tackles in the NFL. Essentially what he was for most every season previous to that disastrous 2013 campaign, including heading to the Pro Bowl in 2010.
It leads some to wonder if the fault lies in whomever the Buccaneers are putting at left tackle or just the Bucs themselves. That's probably a question they should have posed before they gave up on their proven homegrown talent and opted to try and replace him on the open market.
Rather ironic that it was because the Raiders attempted the same thing that led them to being the beneficiary of Penn's sudden availability. The Buccaneers' loss was certainly the Raiders' gain.