The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their off season moves underway this past week by releasing Vinny Curry, and saving $8 million dollars in the process.
According to Spotrac, the Buccaneers currently sit at 24th in the league with $15 million dollars in cap space - not including the $8.5 million that is set to go to their draft picks. Factor in the picks, and Jason Licht currently has about $5.8 million to work with. With rumors of Donovan Smith likely receiving a contract in the $12-$14 million dollar range and you're looking at a current cap figure in the negatives. Yikes.
With tons of work to do on both sides of the ball, specifically in the trenches and secondary, that is not a comforting thought. Fortunately, the Buccaneers do have options. Now, you can’t cut everyone with no dead cap because then you obviously need to fill a lot of holes, but other cuts will be made. The question is just how many.
First, I believe the team will start by cutting Gerald McCoy. The cap hit of $13 million simply doesn’t line up with the production at this point in his career and frankly, the Buccaneers just can’t afford to pay him that kind of money with all their other needs. Not factoring in the Donovan Smith contract, $13 million freed up would give the Buccaneers about $18.5 million (factoring in draft picks).
The next move that many people expect is DeSean Jackson to be on his way out. Personally, I don’t think this is a forgone conclusion, especially after the news this week that the team is likely to lose Adam Humphries in free agency, but for the purpose of this article, let’s say the Buccaneers do indeed move on from him and save $10 million dollars. That would put them at an estimated $28.5 million dollars, again, not factoring in Smith’s contract or franchise tag.
Next up on the list of a potential cut/trade candidate is Cameron Brate. Brate is due $7 million dollars next season and that is simply too much for a backup tight end. Brate is a good football player, but he is replaceable and that $7 million dollars could go a long way in solving some secondary or offensive line issues. The cutting of Brate would bring the number to $35.5 million.
The two most obvious cuts up next would be William Gholston and Mitch Unrein. Combined, the team would save $7.5 million and increase the available cap space to $43 million.
Some other options are Demar Dotson ($4.8 million), Beau Allen ($5 million) and Bryan Anger ($3 million). Even if all of those players were cut, which they won’t be because you simply cant replace everyone with better players, the Buccaneers would have about $55-$56 million in space. Factor in Donovan Smith and possibly Kwon Alexander and that number shoots down to about $30 million.
Obviously, you have to replace all the guys who were cut and build depth at the same time, so if I was a Buccaneer fan, I wouldn’t expect any splash free agent signings outside of maybe one big name.
It’ll be interesting to see how Jason Licht and Bruce Arians work the roster, but right now, the cap situation doesn’t look pretty.