JR Sweezy (sort of) Reworks His Contract with the Buccaneers

Last offseason J.R. Sweezy was one of the big offseason signings notching a surprising five year $32.5 million contract with $12 million effectively guaranteed at signing and another $2.5 million guaranteed for injury. Sweezy never played a down for the Buccaneers last season as a back injury kept him on the Physically Unable to Perform list for the entire season. Just one season later, according to Field Yates and Jenna Laine of ESPN, he has reworked his contract to account for that injury in a manner that sounds like it accomplished much more than it really did. Continue reading JR Sweezy (sort of) Reworks His Contract with the Buccaneers »

Bucs Release Verner

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be release cornerback Alterraun Verner according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Verner’s release will save the team $6.5 million.  As is typical with Buccaneers contract there will be no dead money associated with the release since the Bucs do not use signing bonuses and all the guarantees in Verner’s contract had run out. Tampa Bay should now have around $68 million in cap room, which ranks fourth in the NFL behind the Browns, 49ers, and Jaguars.  Continue reading Bucs Release Verner »

Buccaneers Trade Barron and Casillas


While not much was expected at the deadline the Buccaneers made some noise by selling off former first round draft pick saftey Mark Barron to the Rams and linebacker Jonathan Casillas to the Patriots.

The trade of Barron is the interesting one because again it shows how the new CBA allows first round picks to be traded away rather than being forced to keep an unwanted player on the roster. I would expect more of these in the future.

Barron still has two years remaining under contract, both fully guaranteed, as well as an option year that can be picked up for 2016 after this season. The Rams will take on $902,719 in cap charges in 2014 and $2,362,704 in 2015. The Rams released Case Keenum to make make room for Barron which saves them $262,059 against ths salary cap. The Rams only had about $540,000 in cap room as of today so they likely had to restructure a contract to fit Barron on the roster. In the past the player they always go to in these situations is Chris Long so I would not be surprised if his deal was tweaked today as well.

Casillas was signed this year as a free agent and had received $200,000 in an offseason bonus. The Patriots will take on the the balance of his salay, $582,353, for this year.

The Buccaneers will keep a $2,240,273 dead money charge against their 2015 cap for Barron. They will avoid $902,719 in payments this year for Barron and $582,353 for Casillas which will boost their miniscuke $410,000 in cap room that remained following the extension of Gerald McCoy. This should give them the breathing room they need for the rest of the year.


A Look at Trading Vincent Jackson


The NFL trade deadline is fast approaching and one of the names being rumored as available is Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson. Jackson’s name is one that I have thrown around here for over a month due once it was clear that Tampa Bay was not going to fire this season.

Though big trades in the NFL are rare, especially during the season, Jackson is the perfect candidate. He is still productive, but at 31 years old will likely not have many top seasons left in him, which may not be the best fit for the Bucs moving forward. He does not seem as productive in this offense which has not really featured his best trait of going vertical down the field. He is putting up the lowest numbers of his career in terms of YPC, but that has improved over the last two games with Mike Glennon at QB. So if the Bucs will look elsewhere in 2015 its best to get something in return for him.

A team that acquires Jackson would be responsible for 9/17 of his $10 million base salary, which amounts to $5,294,118 in salary. Since he would replace someone on the roster a team would need about $5.1 million in cap space just to execute the trade. Jackson’s 2015 salary is a non-guaranteed $9.777 million salary so a team could also consider prorating some of this years salary to make the deal work within the salary cap.  Though the Buccaneers often work with all cash contracts, the Bucs prorated a large amount of money with Jackson in 2012 as preparation to make a move on Darrelle Revis in 2013. The dead money charge for the Bucs in 2015 would be $4.864 million.

The competitive teams in the NFL that could need a wide receiver and also have the cap room to execute the trade would be the following:

Browns ($19.0M)

Eagles ($16.3M)

Patriots ($9.0M)

Seahawks ($8.7M)

Chiefs ($5.4M)

For the Chiefs such a move would likely be a one year rental. They have a very tight salary cap situation in 2015 and need to re-sign Justin Houston, so taking on any additional salary would compromise their future. Seattle just traded away Percy Harvin which created the room they would need if they wanted to bring in a true vertical threat like Jackson and work him into their system. Philadelphia would be an interesting landing spot as they have been overly reliant on Jeremy Maclin and Jackson would give them a devastating group of players at the position.

Harvin, a disgruntled and overpaid player, was traded to the Jets for a 6th round pick that could escalate to a 4th rounder based on contract status. A few years back the Patriots acquired a 33 year old Chad Johnson from the Bengals for a 5th and 6th round pick. Jackson is younger and more productive than Johnson but probably does not have the long term upside of a Harvin. I would lean towards most teams considering no higher than a 4th round pick for him or maybe a conditional 3rd rounder. I would be pretty surprised if Tampa received close to their rumored asking price of a 2nd round pick.


Thoughts on Gerald McCoy’s $95.2 Million Contract with the Buccaneers


(EDITORS NOTE: This was writted before I saw Joel Corry’s full breakdown of the contract. The numbers are  slightly different, and more team friendly, than my estmates and what I discuss here but its very close and the analysis still holds up)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy agreed today on a new 7 year contract extension worth a reported $95.2 million in new money with $51.5 million in guarantees. The huge numbers immediately caught people’s attention since it brings him very close to the magical $100 million number that is near impossible for defensive players to reach.

Pro Football Talk has some of the initial details of the contract which tells us much more about it. According to PFT, McCoy will received $14.757 in fully guaranteed salary upon signing the contract. The next guarantee kicks in a few days following the Super Bowl (which I believe they have the date incorrect on and it’s the 2015 and not 2016 waiver period) and increases the full guarantee to $32.257 million. Following the start of the 2016 League Year the final portion of the guarantees will vest to reach the $51.5 million reported figure.

Now I’m not sure when I can verify the full contract details (or when someone else will)  but I think we can make a few assumptions based on the PFT report and our general knowledge of the cap. McCoy still had  $7,489,561 in salary remaining this season which will be rolled into the guarantee that Is reported. That should mean that the Buccaneers increased his salary by about $7.267 million to reach his reported guarantee. I’d say there is a very good chance his effective salary for this year is now $20 million. That should make his 2015 salary $17.5 million.

The next thing that immediately jumps out at me is the reported structure. JJ Watt recently signed a contract with the Texans that had a guarantee structure that I think was the model for this contact. Watt had a very large 2015 salary fully vest the 5th day of the waiver period and then in 2016 both his 2016 and 2017 base salaries fully vested on the 5th day of the 2016 League Year. Sound familiar?  We still have $19.243 million in guarantees to account for and it would seem likely that these will split over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Those numbers fit in with both the general way that the Buccaneers structure contracts as well as the cash flows around the position. If they paid out all that money by 2016 he would have received a better contract that Watt on the front end, which I can’t imagine happening.

The Buccaneers deal in all cash contracts, but from the sounds of the raise he will receive this year they will need to use a small signing bonus to fit under the salary cap. My estimates had Tampa Bay with just over $6 million in space entering the weekend, so a $7.3 million raise is not going to fit. A few years ago they did include a signing bonus for tackle Donald Penn and I would look for a similar bonus between $2 and $2.5 million to make the numbers work with the cap this season.

I would imagine Tampa Bay is looking at salary cap hits of $20.4M in 2014, $20.6M in 2015, and then just $10.1M in 2016 and 2017. Those numbers would equate to new money totals of $24.75M, $34.3M, and $44M over the first three contract years. Those numbers would far exceed Geno Atkins $36 million over 3 years and put him on par with Haloti Ngata’s $44 million over three years, but with a far less player friendly contract structure.

How is a deal like this likely agreed to?  I think you simply look at the current contract of McCoy. McCoy had a tremendous amount of contract leverage based on the franchise tag. Because his salary cap number was so high, his tag number in 2015 would be $18,392,704 and in 2016 would be $22,071,244. While the Buccaneers can deal with big numbers because they will rarely, if ever, use a signing bonus upon the initial execution of the contract, those are still extremely high numbers. For McCoy, though, there is no injury protection in that process so he has a risk as well. Here is how the two situations play out in terms of cumulative cash flows (assuming our estimates on the payouts are correct):

YearTagNew ContractDifference

It is essentially a compromise. McCoy will earn around and additional $6.4 million plus have injury protection to continue to audition for the extra money in his contract. The Bucs get to save about $6 million total if they “invoke the option” to have McCoy on the roster in 2016. That should make both sides very happy but it is certainly not the overwhelming windfall that some are making it out to be. Its simply a fair contract in the context of an original contract for a very good player.

Now attention will turn to Ndamukong Suh and what this means for him.  Both are comparable players in almost every metric other than notoriety and $13.6 million a year and contract control into the next decade is a far cry from what Suh was reportedly seeking. McCoy was already playing on a contract that averaged about $11.5 million a year so its not as massive a raise as it sounds initially. I would guess this puts Suh in the $14 million a year range.

Is either contract worth it for a defensive tackle?  Probably not. It is difficult to out-produce Atkins who is on a far more team friendly contract for a number of reasons. At this point the Ravens would love to get out from under the Ngata contract and put it under more reasonable terms because the value is simply not there.

For Tampa Bay, who has not really been a competitive team for years, it may be difficult to match the peak performance of McCoy with the rest of the team. They will be helped based on what should be a team friendly contract with limited prorated money. Tampa should still have a great deal of cap room to spend in the offseason so I would expect more free agent splashes to try to make it all work.



The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Heavy Investments in Free Agency

Thursday night the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up one of the worst performances in the history of the NFL, falling behind the Atlanta Falcons 56-0 before the Falcons mercifully called off the dogs late in the 3rd quarter. The Buccaneers at 0-3 look to be finished for the season and may soon be a lesson in roster building for the rest of the NFL.

There may be no team in the NFL that was built more via outside organizations than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The philosophy is now funneling through two regimes. Last season the Buccaneers fired head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik for the failures of the 2013 season. But somewhere in the organization there must have been a feeling that the team was on the right path because they continued to pursue free agents in a “win now” style and brought in veteran head coach Lovie Smith to make the project work.  Thus far it’s been a colossal failure.

The Buccaneers use a very different contract and salary cap management system than almost anyone else in the NFL. Their philosophy primarily is based on an “all cash” method of management in which the team maintains strong up front cash flow controls by forgoing the use of the traditional signing bonus. This not only avoids those big first year cash payments but also keeps contracts from containing dead money at the back end that might cause a team to keep a player past his shelf life. In theory players can be traded at will and released as soon as the projected skill declines occur.

There is, however, a downside to this system. As a tradeoff to the lack of up front money and dead money protection in a contract the Buccaneers are often agreeing to contracts that are at an extremely high salary level on a per year basis. In addition to ensure that they earn what they would earn from a team that uses large signing bonuses the team is often placed in a position where they over-guarantee the contract, which limits the flexibility they have. For the system to really work properly the team needs to have a very strict conviction to not go back and begin to prorate money, a conviction that the Buccaneers failed to show in 2012.


The manner in which the Bucs have been built is almost scary. Of their top 15 contracts, valued in terms of annual value, only four are held by homegrown players. Those players are Gerald McCoy, Mike Evans, Mark Barron, and Adrian Clayborn. Of those players only McCoy ranks in the top 8.

That list also does not include all the misses that the team has made and walked away from, perhaps none bigger than the disaster that turned out to be the trade for Darrelle Revis.  The Buccaneers pursuit of Revis really began at the end of the 2012 season when the Bucs front office hastily reworked the contracts of wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks late in the season to lead to massive reductions in their 2013 cap charges and open up the cap space needed to make a run at a big player. Tampa would eventually surrender a first round pick to the New York Jets for Revis, who was coming off an ACL injury. Revis was signed for $16 million in 2013. He was subsequently released in  2014 due to his high salary.

Here is the list of recent contract moves made by the Buccaneers in their construction of their team.

PlayerPositionYear SignedHow AcquiredAnnual Value
Darrelle RevisCB2013Trade$16,000,000
Vincent JacksonWR2012Free Agent$11,111,111
Carl NicksG2012Free Agent$9,500,000
Michael JohnsonDE2014Free Agent$8,750,000
Dashon GoldsonS2013Free Agent$8,250,000
Logan MankinsG2014Trade$8,250,000
Mike WilliamsWR2013Extension$7,924,000
Davin JosephG2011Extension$7,500,000
Alterraun VernerCB2014Free Agent$6,375,000
Anthony CollinsT2014Free Agent$6,000,000
Josh McCownQB2014Free Agent$5,000,000
Evan Dietrich-SmithC2014Free Agent$3,562,500
Michael KoenenP2011Free Agent$3,250,000
Clinton McDonaldDT2014Free Agent$3,000,000
Brandon MyersTE2014Free Agent$2,125,000

On that list Revis, Nicks, Williams, and Joseph are all off the team. Revis and Williams lasted one year, Nicks two years, and Joseph three years. Williams and Joseph were the only two on the list whose careers were in Tampa from the start. Many of those players on the top of the list were among the top of their positions when they signed the deals.  Since 2011 the Bucs have won just 15 games. That’s a lot of coin to spend for 15 wins over a 51 game stretch.

I think at this point the Buccaneers really need to begin a hard evaluation process of what they have on this roster moving forward. Clearly the free agent/big contract route has not worked and it may be time to re-tool their whole approach to roster building.


The evaluation has to begin at the QB position. The signing of McCown, who has been little else than a journeyman in the past, was strictly done because the front office felt a competent veteran was a perfect fit for the team. It wasn’t. With a high draft pick looking like a certainty the team must turn the reigns over to Mike Glennon and see if there is anything there moving forward. He was not terrible last season and he could be a decent option, if not as a starter than as a long term backup solution.

Since most of these contracts contain little prorated money they should begin dismantling most of the team and seeing if there is any value around the NFL in some of their pieces to begin the process of rebuilding through the draft. Mankins, McCown, Dietrich-Smith, Koenen, McDonald, and Myers could all have salaries reduced or be released next season since they can move away from those contracts with minimal cap implications. Goldson and Jackson would be some residuals but their contracts would not be safe. Both of those players, who are on the wrong side of 30, probably have trade value to a contending team, perhaps even this season.

Tampa Bay already has a great deal of cap space in 2015, but there is nothing that is forcing them to spend it. Other than McCoy I don’t believe they have any mega free agents to re-sign next season and that money is best carried over to the future when they do have the talent that justifies the expenses.

There is certainly a time and place for big spending in free agency. But I believe that the time for that often comes when you already have a young core that was built through at least two draft classes in place before you make that move. Preferably that young talent lies in some of the higher priced positions (QB, LT, WR, DE, CB). The Buccaneers big spending binge really began in 2012 and at that point their young core was really McCoy and Williams, both from the 2010 draft, and Josh Freeman from the 2009 draft. McCoy was coming off two injury plagued seasons and Freeman completely unproven. It was not the best of times to begin a free agent invasion of the team. The end result was the product that the team put on the field against Atlanta.



Patriots Agree to Trade Logan Mankins to Buccaneers

The Patriots are no stranger to surprising late summer roster moves and this year’s edition sees them moving long time Guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Tim Wright and a draft pick.

Mankins, our pick for worst contract on the Patriots over the last two seasons, signed a monster contract in 2011 that he had little chance to live up to. His contract remains the top valued contract among Guards and he is still a top five earner in cash salary, four years into the deal. He carried a $10.25 million cap charge in 2014 for the Patriots which was the 2nd highest in the NFL at the position this year.

Mankins still had $8 million in dead money remaining in his contract, but because this move was made after June 1 the Patriots will split that cost across two seasons. Mankins also earned a $250,000 workout bonus so his cap charge for the Patriots this year will be $4.25 million, a savings of $6.25 million. In 2015 he will count for $4 million against the cap.


Tampa Bay will assume Mankins remaining salaries in his contract. Those figures are $6.25 million in 2014 and $7 million in both 2015 and 2016. I did read in a few places the suggestion that Mankins could retire rather than accept the trade, but if that were to occur the Buccaneers would have the rights to try to recover the $8 million in signing bonus money left in his contract. This situation occured years ago when the Denver Broncos traded Jake Plummer to the Buccaneers and Plummer did not want to play in Tampa Bay.

I’d consider this a pretty classic salary dump. Nobody knows how long this trade was being discussed but since the Buccaneers brought in Richie Incgnito for a visit yesterday I would tend to think that may have gotten the Patriots thinking they found a team desperate enough to take Mankins off their hands.  The money saved this year will improve their future salary cap position to help extend good players who were drafted in 2010 and 2011 and are up for extensions.