When I wrote this piece on the cash salary floor, it still looked like that floor would be set at 90% of the salary cap, but now the floor has been raised to 99% of the cap. And despite that, it looks like the Bucs may just reach that salary floor without signing any external free agents outside of punter Michael Koenen. Follow me on the math here.
The numbers changed slightly since I wrote article, as the Salary Cap has now been set at $120.375M per club in 2011. This means the salary floor in cash is set at $119.17 million this year. According to Brian McIntyre the Bucs had committed $64.4 million in cash spending before the lockout began. This means the Bucs had to spend $54.77 million. And the Bucs may already be there or close to it, if they have frontloaded a number of these contracts.
Let's start with the biggest deal: Davin Joseph's contract. Joseph got a whopping $53 million with $19 million in guaranteed money. I don't know what that structure will look like, but it's entirely possible the Bucs committed to spending about $20 million of that money in cash in 2011. With $19 million guaranteed they could have moved most of that into the first year of the deal. With potentially $20 million or even more in cash spending in the first year, the Bucs only have $34.77 million left to spend.
Next up is Quincy Black's contract, who received a five-year, $29 million contract with $11.5 million in guarantees. Again, they could easily have moved most of that guaranteed money into the first year of the contract. Say the Bucs committed to spending about $12 million of that in the first year of the deal. That leaves just $22.77 million for the Bucs to spend.
With Michael Koenen's six-year, $19 million deal with $6.5 million guaranteed the Bucs likely committed another $7 million in cash spending to 2011. That means there's just $15.77 million left, and the Bucs are getting very close to the salary floor. Now add the rookie contracts to that. Clayborn signed four-year, $8.2 million contract. If the Bucs committed a quarter of that to the first year, that's another $2 million gone. Da'Quan Bowers signed a four-year, $3.85 million contract with a $1.304 million signing bonus. That's another $1.5 million. Let's be conservative and say the Bucs commit another $3 million to all the other rookie draft picks, so the total first-year cash spend on rookies is $6.5 million. That leaves the Bucs with just $9.27 million to spend to reach the cash floor.
The Bucs aren't entirely done in free agency, and they will likely re-sign a number of veterans to backup roles. Tim Crowder and Cadillac Williams seem like premier candidates to return to the Bucs in backup roles, and Adam Hayward would be a solid backup as well. It wouldn't take large contracts for the Bucs to use those contracts to get to the salary floor.
And that doesn't even count the amount of money they'll be paying to practice squad players and the inevitable undrafted rookie who will make the roster. Not to mention any in-season pickups or extensions, as the cash floor does not need to be met until the end of the season.
The Bucs have not been very active in free agency despite having a lot of cap room to spend. While all the first-year numbers for contracts are speculation, they are all feasible. Mark Dominik has committed to building a team through the draft without dabbling in free agency. While there have been rumors that he has gone after a number of players, nothing has come out of that except a punter. And the Bucs may just be done in free agency for the year.