The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive end/outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul agreed to a contract restructuring today, allowing JPP to become a free agent following the season. The Bucs also freed up $4.4-million dollars under this year’s cap. For 2020, the Bucs are no longer on the hook for JPP’s $12.5-million dollar salary.
So what does that mean for the Bucs?
For starters, that does not rule out a return for Pierre-Paul in 2020, it just means the he will get to test the open market and see what his value is. The Bucs could certainly bring him back at less than what he was on the books for.
More importantly, it shifts their focus to retaining outside linebacker Shaq Barrett. Barrett, 26, has eight sacks in the first three games of his one-year contract. Barrett was looking for an opportunity to start after backing up Von Miller in Denver for the start of his career. Having earned the starting job, Barrett has made the most of it and is an early front-runner for defensive player of the year.
Bear in mind, the Bucs have plenty of roster decisions ahead of them. Jameis Winston is in the final year of his contract, Chris Godwin will be entering his final year in 2020, and the Bucs have a slew of one year deals that will expire at the conclusion of this season including Ndamukong Suh, Deone Bucannon, Breshad Perriman, and the aforementioned Barrett. Freeing up $12.5-million for next year’s contracts is going to go a long way.
The Bucs will have an estimate $75-million and change heading into next off-season to address some of their big needs as Winston, Godwin, and Barrett will all be looking for big pay days.
Hopefully JPP gets back on the field soon and 2019 won’t be the last we see of him in a Bucs’ uniform, but Tampa Bay gave themselves some much needed flexibility for 2020 and beyond.