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Staying Away Won’t Help Penn’s Cause

Posted May 13, 2010 by Roy Cummings

Updated May 14, 2010 at 10:19 AM

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TAMPA – The Bucs are expecting near perfect attendance for the start of their voluntary on-field workouts next week. The only absentee, in fact, may be left tackle Donald Penn.

Penn is still bent over the Bucs refusal to give him a long-term contract. He’s no different than middle linebacker Barrett Ruud in that sense, but unlike Ruud, Penn has yet to figure out that skipping workouts won’t change that.

Penn, Ruud and dozens of other worthy players are being forced to wait on the long-term contracts they desire and deserve because the NFL and its player’s union have yet to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

That obviously leaves Penn, Ruud and all the others with very uncertain futures, but there’s one thing Penn can be certain of. The Bucs still consider him a big part of their future.

They said as much when they ignored a deep class of tackle prospects during the draft, and while they have yet to say it in the way Penn wants them to most – with a long-term contract offer – they eventually will.

What Penn has to remember here is that it was Bucs general manager Mark Dominik (while serving as the Bucs director of pro personnel) who pulled him off the Vikings practice squad and signed him to the Bucs roster.

Dominik saw something special in Penn then and all Penn has done since is prove Dominik right. It’s safe to say then that no one on the other side in this debate wants Penn to succeed and be rewarded for his success more than Dominik.

Dominik’s hands are tied, though. Without a new CBA it makes little or no business sense to sign him or anyone else in his situation to a long-term contract. As a result, Penn’s reward will have to wait.

In the meantime, Penn has decided to make the Bucs wait, which is fine. He has that right. It’s the same right Ruud exercised a year ago. And just look at where it got him. A year later Ruud is still in the same boat as Penn.

The only difference is that Ruud has come to the realization realized that there is currently only one thing that will get him closer to the long-term contract he wants and it’s not staying away, it’s showing up.