I'm going to start with a few statements. It is very hard to pull cap numbers from teams. It is even harder to pull cap numbers for teams in future years. However, I have done my best to pull salaries and cap numbers. This is mainly estimates and not an exact science. The purpose of this fanpost is to show what realistic possibilities we have of resigning players next year and how it may effect drafting this year.
Main Cap Hits For 2013
Player - Hit in Millions
McCoy- 12.6 up from 11
Joseph- 6 down from 9.5
Freeman- 10.4 up from 8.5
Q. Black- 5.7
Winslow- 5.6 up from 4.4
Main Cap Hits = 90.6
Plus the Rest of Roster = 17.23
Plus 2012 Draft = 6.5
Cap of Players Signed = 114.33
2013 Free Agents
2013 Free Agent - Likely Contract Hit in Millions
Biggers- Not Resigned
Blount- 3 (This is a hard number to estimate)
Jackson- Unlikely, but 2
Parker- 3 (This is a hard number to estimate)
Gant- RFA .54
Stroughter- Not Resigned
Talib- 8 (Upper level corner value, may be less due to off field issues)
Barber- Please Retire
Trueblood- Not Resigned
Possible Signed Free Agents= 22.84
Plus Cap Of Signed Players= 114.33
Total Cap Hit = 137.17
Less Rolled Over Money = 8
Adjusted Cap Hit = 129.17
Plus 2013 Draft Reserved Money = 6.5
Adjusted Cap for Draft = 135.67****
Less 2013 NFL Salary Cap = 122
Over/Under Salary Cap = Over 13.67
**** This number is not exact. There may need to be additional signings to fill roster or additional bonuses added to contracts
Making Sense of the Numbers
The first number that pops out to me is that before we sign any free agents that our cap hit is going to be near 114 million. That is also before the 2013 draft. If no players are cut, no free agents are signed, we reserve 6.5 million for the draft, and 8 million is rolled over; we are left with a cap hit of around 112.5. This leaves only 9 million to sign free agents. That is a much different number than we worked with the last few years. We may have to use all 9 million of that to resign our key free agents: Blount, Parker, Barth, Bennett. I estimate that it will take 11 million just to resign those four (I have probably over estimated that number).
This seems like the Bucs aren't in a favorable cap situation come next season. Lets see how they can fix it. To start, they can cut players. There are two players that jump out to me. Quincy Black and Kellen Winslow. Black is set to make 5.7 and Winslow 5.6. Winslow's cap hit goes up by 1.2 million each year until his contract expires after the 2014 season. This may be another reason why the Bucs were looking to trade him. SideNote: Winslow has incentives worth 1.2 million every season; if cut I don't think they go towards dead space. Releasing both players gives the team an additional 11.3 million in cap space.
The second option is to restructure contracts. The only contract that really scares me is Gerald McCoy's. This year his cap hit is 11.1, next year it is 12.6, and the year after it is just short of 15. That is a lot to be paying any player. Add in his injury issues and it seems like a priority to restructure him for less. The only reason McCoy is making so much is because he was signed the year before the new CBA. I'm not an expert on restructuring, so this is where someone like Draft Phantom might be able to give some insight on what is possible.
Freeman has two years left on his contract. He is set to make 8.5 this year and 10.4 next. A contract extension is going to happen, but under what cap figures? I would expect it to average yearly in the 11-14 range. Remember, the Bucs don't give much bonuses and overpay slightly for players. This will leave us with even less money to work with.
The Bucs won't have too much money to work with next year. To keep players, we might have to cut others. Those players cut most likely being Black and Winslow. If the Bucs don't want to cut players, the FO may have to switch over to back-loading contracts or using pro-rated bonuses. We may not have the money to resign Talib even if he doesn't get found guilty in his trial. He is considered one of the better corners in the league and will probably want to get paid like one. We may be able to sign him for less given his off field issues, but good corners are hard to come by and another team may be willing to pay that number that we aren't. My findings reinforce the likeliness that a CB and LB will be picked in the first 2 rounds of the draft. It may also point to the fact that we might draft a TE this year higher than expected. I also believe Jackson will not last longer than two years on this team. He is currently the third highest paid WR in the league based on average salary. His guaranteed money runs out after two seasons and the Bucs may have signed his contract with the intent of having him for only those two years.
If I can give my two cents, don't be surprised by or scared by the lack of space the Bucs will have to work with in the future. Their method of signing big name players is to give large base salaries with 2 or 3 years guaranteed and no pro-rated bonuses. This means the team appears to have little money, but will also have the ability to cut under-performers at will with no hit. This method has its advantages and may push players to fight to earn their contract because they know the possibility of getting cut is far greater. I would argue a player who only earns a base salary of 10 million a year with no guarantees is going to play differently than a player given an upfront bonus of 50 million with a base salary of 2.
Remember: These are not exact numbers.