Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: $47.6 million
Expected 2016 Cap Space: $75.4 million
Estimated Rookie Cap: $6.546 million
Players Under Contract: 56
Pro Bowlers: 1
Unrestricted Free Agents: 10(3 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 9
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
I don’t believe re-signing Doug Martin is a given as there may be a big discrepancy on value. Martin is a unique case in which he bookended great seasons around two years where he was basically in the doghouse. Still given the Buccaneers cap space and young players on offense I think they will bring him back if he concedes a bit on the guarantees and is willing to tie money into being active on Sunday…Bringing back Henry Melton on a similar cost one year contract can allow the team to keep some consistency in the middle while younger players develop…Until they get more players in the secondary, Sterling Moore may be an ok option to keep at a low cost.
Free Agents to Let Walk
I’m not sure there would be a reason for the Bucs to bring back any of their other unrestricted free agents. Bobby Rainey won’t have much of a role if Martin is retained. McDaniel plays at a spot the team needs to get younger not older…Chris Conte and all the others are replacement level or worse at this stage.
Contracts to Modify
LB Danny Lansanah is a restricted free agent that will be tendered. It may be better to throw that out and discuss a two to three year contract…I don’t really see any other contract on the Bucs that needs to be changed unless they are considering retaining Vincent Jackson, in which case he may need to accept a pay cut.
Players to Consider Releasing
Alterraun Verner has been a disappointment in Tampa and it is probably worth spending $6.75M elsewhere to help bolster the team, though with their secondary depth he might be safe…Vincent Jackson will be 33 next year and is coming off an injury filled season. I’m not sure you can justify keeping him at that cost…Releasing Clinton McDonald will save $3.25 million. He’s missed 13 games in the last two seasons…Logan Mankins at $7 million is a bit expensive but my assumption is if he does not retire they would not release him.
The Buccaneers have pursued a “pay-as-you-go” contract strategy that reduces optionality in the short term but increases flexibility in the long term. As a result, the team faces no ill effects of previous free agent spending sprees, as is reflected in a well above average amount of True Cap Space and a well below average Commitment Index score. Expected Contract Value forecasts that the team will largely decline to allocate its True Cap Space to players currently under contract, thereby leading to the likely release of Vincent Jackson, Logan Mankins and others. The Buccaneers have the opportunity to spend aggressively to replace those players over the next several seasons while Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, LaVonte David and Gerald McCoy play under team-friendly contract structures.
Expected Contract Outcomes – Expected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions. The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016. A pay cut is treated as a termination. We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options. Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.
|Player||Position||Expected Outcome||Expected Savings|
|Expected Change in Cap Room||+$27,778,248|
True Cap Space – Realizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms. Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.
|True Cap Space (2016)|
|Adjusted Salary Cap||$158,268,998|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||($12,672,361)|
|Realizable Cap Space||$145,596,637|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||($15,048,325)|
|Minimum Salary Cap Holds||($21,600,000)|
|True Cap Space||$108,948,312|
Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams. A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments. The Commitment Index Score of every team in the league changes to at least some degree with every transaction executed by any team in the league, so Commitment Index Score is measured as of a specific point in time (in this case, January 11, 2016).
|Commitment Index (2017+)|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||$14,613,157|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||$10,033,573|
|Current Cap Space||($48,373,505)|
|Commitment Index Score||-137%|
|League Rank (1st = Most Committed)||29th|
The Buccaneers certainly have cap room to spend, the question is will they spend it? I don’t really think so. The Bucs went into this free agency run a few years ago and it ended up as one failure after another. Though they showed improvement last season they still had a losing record and collapsed at the end of the year. With a young quarterback still developing the Bucs are probably one or two years away from free agency really being a useful tool. Given the massive salaries that quarterbacks receive these days there is nothing wrong with carrying over large sums of cap space to have the flexibility needed to sign those players in the future. With the Bucs operating on an all cash system those reserves could come in handy when Winston is up for a new deal years down the line.
More likely I could see Tampa in the bargain bin trying to find potential high upside players to fill a need for a season or two at a lower cost similar to the Melton or Moore contracts they signed. The price on the pass rushers continues to explode which probably takes them out of the market for one, but I do wonder if they would consider either Jason Pierre-Paul or Greg Hardy who both come with question marks and may not be incredibly expensive for their talent levels. Other names like Olivier Vernon should be too expensive.
Building depth in the secondary would be another focus for the year. Sean Smith will be the best cornerback available and there are a number of lesser players with upside. I could see the team looking at a Morris Claiborne if he leaves Dallas where you can possibly sign him for around $2 million on a one year contract. Greg Toler, Jerraud Powers, and Adam Jones could all be veteran options.
Though the team was kind of burned by the Dashon Goldson signing and Mark Barron draft pick, safety is the one spot where I think you will need to spend to find somebody. I like the idea of Tashaun Gipson as a high end target. He can be helpful to back up some of the suspect corners on the team. Reggie Nelson would be the older target to consider.
Wide receiver is also a need, especially if Jackson is released. With Mike Evans already their number 1 this is a decent year for free agency if you are looking for a second target. There should be little buzz around the position which should keep prices more reasonable than last year where big name players drove prices. Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Rishard Mathews all could be good options. They should stay away from the more boom or bust types of Travis Benjamin ad Reuben Randle.
Between the draft, value picks in free agency, and the growth of the quarterback the Bucs have an opportunity to get out of the top 10 of the draft and back to 0.500. If all goes well look for Tampa to have a ton of cap room in 2017 and a willingness to use it.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.