USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent a lot of money on offense in 2012. They gave Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks two huge contracts, saw Josh Freeman and Davin Joseph continue to reap the rewards of their rather large contracts, and then added Dallas Clark, Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah and ... Jeremy Trueblood ... to the list of high-earning players. Combine all of that and you shouldn't be surprised to find out that the Buccaneers had the most expensive offense in 2012 by salary cap numbers according to ESPN, even though the results were medicore (or inconsistent, if you prefer).
Most of the blame there can be laid at the feet of two players: Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson, who combined for over $30 million of the $78 million in cap space. That's after the late-season contract adjustments, pushing future cap hits into the 2012 season. Of those two players, Jackson clearly earned his money, while Nicks looked like he was worth every penny until he was placed on injured reserve eight games into the season with a foot injury. Nicks should be back next season with a fully healed foot.
Davin Joseph's $9.5 million cap hit and 0 games played due to injury are another major reason why the Bucs had a huge cap hit and middling results during the 2012 season. In fact, combine Joseph and Nicks and you have a third of the team's salary cap commitment to the offense, but just seven combined games played. That's mostly unfortunate and bad luck, not necessarily poorly spent money. The same can't be said for Jeremy Trueblood, who for some reason made the team's roster with a $5.25 million cap hit. He started exactly one game before being replaced by Demar Dotson.
Interestingly, the Bucs spent a humongous amount of money on the offensive line the past season, with the cap hits combining for nearly $45 million. With multiple injuries along the offensive line the performance obviously wasn't up to that standard, although the line appeared to handle itself with aplomb for a large part of the season before falling apart over the final quarter of the season.
The team's cap commitment to offense was some $78 million according to ESPN's numbers, and around $82 million according to my own, imperfect numbers. According to my own accounting, the Bucs' commitment in cap space to the offense will fall drastically in 2013 to just $50 million -- which still outpaces the defense, where the Bucs have around $45 million committed. That number will fall further if the expected release of Quincy Black and Eric Wright actually happens. Most of that drop occurs because Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks have much lower cap numbers in 2013 than they did in 2012.
Given the fact that the spending numbers in 2013 seem heavily biased toward the offense, assuming Quincy Black and Eric Wright don't return, you probably won't see a massive offensive investment this season. I'd expect the Bucs to mostly focus on upgrading the defense, with perhaps a tight end being the only big investment on offense.