It’s time for another question from the Pewter Plank mailbag, and this time I took to Facebook to ask about the Buccaneers, and got some great questions. This one comes from Rob P.:
For more cap space, who will most likely be the players that are expendable in the future?
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A great question, and one that shows the unfortunate business truth about the NFL: Cash is king. Sometimes financial need outweighs football talent, and players move on to save much needed cap space. So what Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at risk for being released or traded in cap saving efforts in the future?
- Connor Barth and Michael Koenen: (4-year, $13.2 million contract, and 6-year, $19.5 dollar contract respectively) The Buccaneers’ two special teams stalwarts are both the most likely to be let go in money saving efforts in the future. Especially with the injury to Connor Barth, his future with the team has to be considered in doubt. Koenen is one of the best kickoff specialists in the NFL, but even that seems to not justify such a high salary. According to their Rotoworld profiles, neither player appears to have a signing bonus, which means the Buccaneers can likely move on from either player with no penalty. Kickers and punters are important, but I have to believe the team would prefer to spend some of this money on other positions.
- Donald Penn and Davin Joseph: (6-year, $41.7 contract and 7-year, $52.5 contract respectively) Left tackle is probably the most important position on the offensive line, and Davin Joseph is a former Pro Bowl player who is a team captain. But I don’t believe that will exempt either of these players from potentially being let go following this season to save money. Penn and Joseph both have team-friendly deals from this point forward, as the 2014 offseason will present an opportunity for either player to be let go for little to no penalty. The Buccaneers may opt to re-work the contract of either lineman before resorting to letting them go, but Penn could be replaced in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and Joseph may already have a replacement on the roster in Gabe Carimi.
- Jeremy Zuttah: (4-year, $16.3 million contract) Trust me, I don’t have any bias against the Buccaneers’ offensive line. But there is the opportunity to cut cost in this area, and if things get tough next offseason it’s not out of the question to see changes in this area. Zuttah is yet another player with a team-friendly deal who can be let go with little to no penalty. Ted Larsen is a capable center, and draft options will be available in the mid rounds next Spring, so if Zuttah doesn’t re-work his deal, he could be let go. Zuttah has been solid at center, but he isn’t elite by any means, and therefore a $4 million contract seems a bit much for him next year.