Bruce Arians wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to keep the Bucs’ defense together.
Tampa Bay applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to Shaquil Barrett and re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul to a two-year/$27 million dollar contract on Monday. Both players combined for 27.5 of the Bucs’ 47 sacks in 2019, so you can see why Arians was so adamant about bringing them back for another run.
The Bucs have been known to be pretty shrewd when it comes to managing money over the last few years and it looked like that was the case again on the first day of free agency. Many questioned if the Bucs would be able to retain both Barrett and JPP, especially since both salaries were likely to be in the eight figure range, but the Bucs were able to make it happen by applying the franchise tag to Barrett instead of Jameis Winston.
If the team decided to use the tag on Winston, it would have cost them more than $26 million and all of that money would’ve come right off the top of the 2020 salary cap. By using it on Barrett, the Bucs will spend $10 million less than what they would’ve on Winston.
That doesn’t change the fact that the Bucs need a quarterback, though. If they truly want a veteran like Tom Brady or Philip Rivers, doesn’t that mean they’ll have to spend more than $26 million in order to get them there? How could they spend more money and be able to afford JPP?
With Winston’s “one-year deal” now out of the picture, the Bucs will now sign a quarterback to a long-term deal. This remains the same even if they draft a rookie in the first round, because said rookie will automatically be inked to a five-year contract.
The first year or two - depending on how long the actual deal is - can be very cap-friendly for teams. Just take a look at Ryan Tannehill’s new deal. He’ll count $22.5 million toward the cap in 2020, which is obviously $4.3 million less than the tag of $26.8 million.
That $4.3 million is the difference in signing JPP to the deal he received instead of something more to the tune of a two-year/$22-$23 million deal. Mike Silver of NFL Network reports that the Ravens made a run at JPP, so that easily could’ve been the difference in keeping him or watching him walk.
I’m not saying that the Bucs would’ve held themselves to that offer without the extra money from not tagging Winston nor am I saying that the extra cash did make a difference, but on the surface, it’s easy to connect the dots.
It’s just another great example of how the Bucs are one of the best franchises when it comes to managing the cap.