The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have restructured the contracts of free agent additions Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks to give the team some cap relief for next season, according to ESPN. The Bucs accomplished this by converting much of next year's salary to roster bonuses, which will be pro-rated over the life of the players' contracts. Carl Nicks was given a $11.785 million roster bonus now, while Vincent Jackson was given a $12.16 million roster bonus.
Those moves gave the Bucs a total of around $18 million in cap space next season. The Bucs now have $98 million committed to the 2013 cap, which is expected to be around $120 million. The Bucs will also be able to roll over any remaining cap space to next season, which would give them another $8.5 million in cap space for next season. This opens the way for expensive free agents signings or big contract extensions for players already on the roster. Michael Bennett is one player who will likely get a big new contract from the Buccaneers, while they could look to the free agent market to find some kind of help for a very weak secondary.
The Bucs can free up some more cap space by releasing Quincy Black and Eric Wright, who are scheduled to cost the team some $13.5 million in cap space next season. While both players could be back, I would expect them to come back at significantly lower cost as neither player has any guaranteed money left on their contracts. The Bucs have the leverage to force them to accept less expensive contracts, and they're likely to use that leverage.
The downside of these contract restructures is that they push salary cap hits into the future. Those cap hits can't be deferred indefinitely, however, and this strategy gives them less flexibility in cutting players and manipulating the cap in the future. Eventually, if deferring cap hits into the future becomes a standard contract feature, the Bucs will get stuck in salary cap hell again.