There's a myth going around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blogosphere (yes, I'm old enough to use that word) that the Bucs have plenty of cap space. Even $17 million in cap space. That number came from the NFLPA's official salary cap tracker, which is public and can be accessed here. Yesterday, that page had the Bucs at $17 million in cap space. Today that's down to $13.6 million.
Even that is an overestimation, however. Over The Cap has the Bucs at $9.4 million in salary cap space, and that squares with my my own estimate as well. And in this case, I'll take Over The Cap's estimate over the NFLPA's accounting as an accurate assessment of the team's salary cap space.
So why would I take Overthecap.com's word over that of the NFLPA? After all, the NFLPA is official, and Over The Cap is just making estimates. Well, for one, OTC's estimates have proven extremely accurate in the past. More importantly, though, the Bucs have been sluggish in getting their contracts to show up in the NFLPA database over the past week.
I'm not sure why that's the case, but as an example: the NFLPA had the Bucs at $47 million in cap space over the weekend. Evidently, none of the new contracts had been processed yet. Whether that's because of the Bucs or the NFLPA is anyone's guess, but I do know this: that $17 million cap number almost certainly excludes a couple of recently signed contracts, as evidenced by the fact that it dropped to $13.6 million in a day with no new contracts announced.
This may be due to a lag between contract agreements being reached and papers being signed, or between papers being signed and submitted. Medical examinations have to take place, for instance. Or perhaps the team's just sluggish in turning in the paperwork. Who knows? All I know is that that NFLPA number is currently less trustworthy than Over The Cap's. That will probably change as free agency slows down, though.
So, the Buccaneers have around $9 million in cap space. That doesn't mean the Bucs are in cap trouble, although they do need to save $3 million of that to sign their draft picks. They can create more by releasing Connor Barth, Michael Koenen and Jeremy Zuttah, though. In extremis, they may turn to cutting Vincent Jackson, though that's very, very unlikely. And, of course, they could push some cap hits into the future with restructures -- though evidently, the team's trying to avoid doing that.
Regardless, the Buccaneers have some cap room to play with. They can sign a couple of backups, or cut players if they want to do more than that. Free agency isn't over, and they're not done yet.