Bucs Cap Space : What every "Die hard" fan should know

Source of Numbers:, & Tampa Tribune

What's our real cap number?To start with how far are we under the cap, I know 60 million gets reported but thats not up-to-date(After re-signing Zuttah, Tagging Connor Barth, and tendering a quadruplet of our own free agents) we have $92,814,864 already invested in a current roster of 41 players. This years cap number is estimated to be just over 120,600,000. Each team also gets an allowance of 3 Million for player benefits(meals, relocation money etc..). So for all practical terms the cap is 123,600,000 (since player benefits count as salary under the new CBA).

Rollover Money: We "rolled over" $23,519,000 from last years cap into this season. The rollover amount is USE or LOSE money for the 2012 season only and will disappear next year: Meaning it's probably not wise to use this for long term base salary meaning you will have to make large cap cuts the following year (i.e. you'd have signed guys essentially to quickly release them). The rollover was allowed because some teams didnt want to sign big free agents last year without having the time to fully evaluate them. Tampa is required to spend at least 89.4% of this rollover money this off-season.

What that means in practical numbers:

We can spend : $26,519,000 On Long Term Player Salaries (And Pro-rated signing bonuses) keep in mind we have to sign 53 players under that amount (Plus 600,000 for 6 practice squad players who get $5,700 per week)(Plus another 500,000 for tendered players whose tenders are below the league minimum - i.e. they will sign for the minimum simply to make more)

We can spend : $23,519,000 on roster bonuses and easily achieved performance incentives this season or contract buyouts

Bonus Rules [Quickly]

1) Signing bonuses: pro-rated over the life of the deal but paid up front for a maximum term of 5 years (So if you sign 5 years with a 10 million dollar bonus it counts 2 million in each year of the deal, 6 years 10 million and it counts 2 million each of the first five years)

2) Roster Bonuses: Count instantly toward the cap (for example we will pay player X 10 million if he's on the roster on 1 July) so long as the bonus is due prior to the pre-season.

3) Likely to Achieve Bonuses: Bonuses a player is likely to earn are automatically counted towards the cap (there are about 90 pages of rules on these if you have a question ask and I'll try to answer it)

4) Not Likely to Achieved Bonuses: Do not count against the cap number, but if a player earns one that amount is subtracted from the following years cap total

15 Most Expensive Bucs on the Roster {Interesting List, with their 2012 cap number, and year their contract ends}

OG Davin Jospeh 9.5 Million - 2017

QB Josh Freeman 8.585 Million - 2013

C Jeff Faine - 7.925 Million - 2013 (Please Note for those wanting to ax Faine, we take a 4 Million dollar cap hit because of his pro-rated bonus money - so you only save 3.9million)

TE Kellen Winslow - 6.472 Million - 2014 (No bonus money, but half his salary this season is still "guaranteed")

DT Gerald McCoy - 6.047 Million - 2014 (Needs to stay healthy at what he's costing us but it's almost all bonus money)

LB Quincy Black - 5.75 Million - 2015 (Can you say overpaid?)

OT Donald Penn - 5.633 Million - 2015 (Bargain price for a good LT)

OT Jeremy Trueblood - 5.0 Million - 2012 (Expiring Deal and thankful for that - but yes it guaranteed)

G/C Jeremy Zuttah - 4 Million - 2015 (Give or take on the 4 million details not released yet other than 4 years 16 mil)

P Michael Konen - 3 Million - 2016 (This deal still blows my mind)

FS Tannard Jackson - 3 Million - 2013 (1 Mil of this is in easy incentives that involve him staying clean)

DE Michael Bennett - 2.65 Million - 2012 (Playing under 1 year tender)

PK Connor Barth - 2.665 Million - 2012 (Playing under franchise tag)

CB Aqib Talib - 2.152 Million - 2012 (If he goes to jail yes we get the money back but take a small bonus hit)

DT Brian Price - 2.012 Million - 2013

League Minimums(Changes based on years but its a sliding scale): Rookie Minimum (undrafted) is$375,000 a player with more than 10 years experience(Ronde Barber) $910,000 last season he played for 4 million. The average minimum though is about $600,000 for a veteran.

What Will the Draft Cost us: It's not published yet but expect about 6-7 million , Patrick Peterson(5th overall pick last year) costs 4.2 Million to the Cards cap and it was the first year under the new rules

***What Top Free Agents are asking for**********{Pulled these from various team sites and}

CB Cortland Finnegan - 5yrs 58 million (This deal probably "makes" at about 52 million with 17 million up front roster bonus and signing bonus combo keep the longer term value low)

WR Vincent Jackson - 6yrs 70 million (He also wants a huge signing bonus which would be prorated early- major commitment piece)

CB Brandon Carr - 5 years 54 million

MLB Curtis Lofton - 4 years 36 million (Asking for WAY too much in my opinion thats 9 mil a year)

MLB Stephen Tullouch - 4 years looking for more than 6 million per season AND 10 mil in bonus if you believe Drew Rosehaus's twitter feed (which I dont but it's probably viable and instantly signable at those exact figures)

DE\OLB Mario Williams- Looking at 6 years about 80 million but this could go up fast and you could see a staggering bonus figure

QB Matt Flynn - Looking for Kevin Kolb type money at a shorter contract term (Kolb is earning about 8 mil a year and got 14 mil upfront on 6 years)

OG Carl Nicks- Expect him to ask for Davin Joseph type money looking at 6 years just under 10 million per

WR Marquise Colston - 5 years 9-10.5 million per year, looking for 20million of that in bonus cash

WR Mario Manningham - 4 years 28 million

OG Ben Grubbs - 5 years 35 million (Injury really hurt his value)

The "Also Rans": many other players are going to be cautious and wait for the above guys to sign to figure out what the market for their skills is. They will "slot back" based on what top tier players at their position make and how close they are in skill/youth to them. But some general notes:

1) "Franchise" QB's run anywhere from 12 - 18 million a season and Freeman(if he proves he is one) will want a new deal & we'll want to lock him up sometime after next season

2) Backup QB's who are "proven" (think Kyle Orton / Jason Campbell) go anywhere from 2-3 million genreally

3) Don't expect to sign anyone for the veteran minimum until after July 15th there is no incentive for players to do so simply because they will wait for a better offer/roster moves in the draft to see where they go.

4) Player figures above in most cases are asking prices, it could be higher or lower based on teams bidding or over-bidding

5) Don't ask me about Peyton Hillis or LaRon Landry or Peyton Manning all have totally in-determinate values at the moment because teams want to "kick the tires" on the first two for mental / health reasons and Peyton is out kicking the tires on teams.

*****Bottom Line on the Off-season*****

Counting our 6 draft picks in we need to sign 7 players to get to a 53 man roster. If you subtract out about 6.5 million for our draft picks we have about 19 million we can offer in long term contracts to proven veterans. Based on structure we "might" be able to squeeze in Cortland Finnegan, Vincent Jackson, and Stephen Tulloch depending on how you set up the bonuses. We do have 23 million to burn in single season pay which is best used on roster bonuses to incoming players(rather than paying true "signing bonuses and having to pro rate them- i.e. pay big upfront but keep the cap number low). If we splurge on those 3 guys though were looking at bringing in rookie free agents to make out the rest of the roster. For the off-season only your top 51 salaries count towards the cap but by the start of the regular season you expand that to 53 and 6 practice squad players; meaning we could play with some wiggle room if we became interested in dumping Faine or Quincy Black - but would certainly need a better replacement.

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