The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed Demar Dotson to a three-year, $4.5 million contract extension as first reported by Jason of the excellent salary cap analysis site OverTheCap.com. Dotson was scheduled to be a free agent after the 2013 season, and was scheduled to earn $2 million this year. Under the new contract he has base salaries of $1.25 million in 2014, $1.5 million in 2015 and $1.75 million in 2016, per Jason of Over the Cap. His 2013 salary was split in a base salary of $1 million and a signing bonus of $1 million for some random reason, and the total value of his contract could go up if he hits some escalators, per Brian McIntyre. There's no word on what part of his salary is guaranteed, but knowing the Bucs that is likely to be the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
As with the previous re-signing of Legarrette Blount, this extension was only discovered by someone going through the NFLPA records of contracts. The Bucs really have been doing an outstanding job of keeping their own thoughts and even real actions secret, which makes all those leaks about their intentions regarding Revis a lot more interesting -- and more likely to be part of negotiations through the media.
Dotson was thrust into the starting lineup this past season and performed adequately as a pass protector, while he left something to be desired as a run blocker. This was just Dotson's fifth year playing football though, as his experience before going undrafted in 2009 consisted of one season of playing defensive tackle at Southern Mississippi. Dotson has a lot of talent and could certainly develop into a very good starter at right tackle, but would at worst be a pretty good swing backup who wouldn't look bad starting for most NFL teams. And all that for the low, low price of $1.5 million per year.
With Dotson under contract through 2016, the team has some security at right tackle for the near future. This doesn't mean they won't draft an offensive tackle, however. The Bucs may want to start thinking about a long-term replacement for left tackle Donald Penn, who turns 30 in a month and has been solid but not dominant for the past few years. He's under contract through 2015, but none of his remaining salaries are guaranteed and he can be cut with no long-term consequences if the Bucs need some cap relief.
Interestingly, the Bucs now have two undrafted free agents starting at left and right tackle, while their guards are a marquee free agent and a first-round pick. Does this speak to a conviction that guards are more valuable in this NFL than offensive tackles? If so, it's a strategy I would largely agree with -- provided you have a quarterback who can compensate for a tackle's lapses in protection.
With Dotson signed the Buccaneers can now focus on trading for Darrelle Revis, the draft and signing Mike Williams to a long-term contract extension, a project they reportedly started working on a few months ago but put on hold to deal with free agency. Dotson's signing may signal that the Bucs are working on extending their own players again. Williams is the most obvious candidate, but Gerald McCoy, Josh Freeman, Erik Lorig, Jamon Meredith, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Dekoda Watson, Adam Hayward and Mason Foster should be considered possible candidates for an extension as well.
Update: According to Jenna Laine, the 2016 years is voidable. Presumably on the player's side, because the Bucs can always void any non-guaranteed year by simply releasing Dotson. It's not clear what the conditions are for the contract to be voided.