The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are $55,594,949 over the Salary Cap according to www.spotrac.com. This leaves them little wiggle room in their attempt to re-sign some of their top players and hampers their ability to attract new talent to Tampa. The Bucs need to work smarter, not harder, this offseason to ensure that the team is set up for success in the years ahead. By signing two of their young, homegrown talents, the Bucs will shore up two key positions, at minimal cost.
Offensive guard Nick Leverett is only 26 years old and was an undrafted player that the Bucs signed in 2020. He spent that year on the practice squad and was signed to a reserve/future contract in 2021. In 2022, Leverett was inserted into the starting lineup to replace struggling rookie guard Luke Goedeke. Leverett went on to start eight games and log a total of 705 snaps in 2022. He was a clear upgrade from Goedeke and stabilized the Bucs offensive line during the last part of the season.
Leverett is an exclusive rights free agent, which means that he has to sign the contract that the Bucs offer him, or he must sit out the season. If the Bucs do not offer him a contract, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Bucs should be able to offer Leverett a contract worthy of his abilities, while staying within their limited options due to their salary cap situation.
Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson is also 26 years old and was drafted by the Bucs in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. In his four years with the Bucs, he has played in 59 games, with 10 starts, and accumulated 1,417 total snaps. In 2022, he became the starter after Shaq Barrett injured his achilles tendon and was lost for the season. He started the last six games of the season, and played every single snap in wins over Arizona, and Carolina. He recorded 5.5 sacks, 44 tackles, and forced three fumbles in 2022.
Nelson is an unrestricted free agent and may attract the attention of NFL teams looking for a young, and upcoming player. The Bucs would be wise to prioritize Nelson and bring him back to the only NFL team he has played for. He is durable, plays with high energy, and has the potential to become a productive starter in the NFL for years to come.