It's that time of year: when teams start cutting players en masse because they're much too expensive to keep. That's part of why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already cut Josh McCown, who should be signing a new, expensive contract with another team right about now. That's also why they'll cut Anthony Collins over the next two weeks.
Those cap cuts are more likely to give the Bucs an opportunity to add some talent to their team, though. So let's go through a few cap cuts the Bucs could target.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions
Bush is at this point in his career no longer an every-down back, if he's ever been one. Bush also wouldn't be a great target for the Bucs, who have four young, talented running backs. But that may be the very problem: the Bucs don't have a single veteran running back. No one to show any of these young folks how to play the game. And Bush could play that role -- and give them someone to lean on if Doug Martin really does turn out to be just-another-guy now.
Jahri Evans and/or Ben Grubbs, G, New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are in cap trouble. A lot of cap trouble. They're $21 million over the salary cap right now, and they have to cut some players to get under it. Evans and Grubbs are the most likely cap casualties here, as cutting them would save the Saints $6 million and $3.6 million, respectively.
If either player hits the market, they'd represent a pretty big upgrade for the Bucs. Yes, both of them are over 30 and neither would be a long-term solution. But they'd give the team some extra time to get someone like Kadeem Edwards ready to take over the starting job, and both Grubbs and Evans should be quality starters for at least a couple of years.
A.J. Hawk, LB, Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers cut A.J. Hawk yesterday, and he'd be a pretty solid fit for the Bucs. They need a new linebacker -- either a strongside linebacker or a middle linebacker. Mason Foster probably isn't coming back, and Hawk would be a decent competitor at either position. Not an ideal player, but certainly someone who they could plug in and play for a year or two without having to worry about his position.
Jon Beason, LB, New York Giants
Beason hasn't been cut yet, but he certainly could be. Bucs fans should remember him from his time as one of the best linebackers in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. Injuries have severely hampered his career in recent years, though, and he turns 30 this year. That's why he's likely to be cut -- but he'd also represent a temporary fix for the Bucs' middle-linebacker dilemma, assuming he's going to stay healthy.
Trent Cole, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
Cole is set to cost the Eagles a whopping $11.63 million. At 33 years old, he's probably not worth it -- especially so given the fact that he hasn't been overly productive as a linebacker in the Eagles' 3-4. Getting him back to a 4-3 system where he can just go off the edge would make a lot of sense, and signing him as a situational pass rusher would help address Tampa Bay's problems getting a pass rush going.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears
The Bucs don't need a receiver and there's no guarantee Marshall will be cut, but he does have a history with Lovie Smith and continues to be one of the best receivers in the NFL. His massive catching radius would be of great help to any rookie quarterback -- although his personality might not. The problem is that to afford Marshall, the Bucs would likely cut Vincent Jackson -- and that just seems unlikely.