The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished 4-12 for a myriad of reasons, but two notable causes for the miserable season for the Bucs was a lack of run blocking and pass protection by interior offensive linemen, and injuries to key players on offense.
In the case of Carl Nicks, his prolonged absence due to a MRSA infection falls into both category.
As such, it should come as little surprise that many fans of the Buccaneers would like to see Nicks gone this offseason, as his two-year tenure with the team has been nothing but injury-filled disappointment.
The truth is, releasing Carl Nicks wouldn’t help the team at all.
According to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, Carl Nicks has $6 million of his $7 million in guaranteed money guaranteed against injury, meaning the Buccaneers would free up more space by releasing punter Michael Koenen than they would by releasing Nicks.
The reason for that is guaranteed money becomes dead money against the salary cap when a player is released. So while it’s certainly a “waste of money” to keep Nicks on the roster, that’s the Glazers money and not salary cap money, and it shouldn’t matter to any fans. The salary cap is the key number to keep in mind, and releasing Nicks doesn’t help in that regard.
Furthermore, releasing Nicks would mean a talented guard would be on the free agent market, and the Buccaneers would need a new left guard. Nicks’ career is in doubt due to his injury, but if he does return to even 80% of his former self, he’s still one of the best guards in the league.
The chance that Nicks returns and can play football in 2014 is not worth gaining a couple million dollars worth of cap space for a team that can easily have 20 million to spend this offseason with a couple of small moves. Holding onto Nicks and waiting to see if he’ll return to health, or at least allowing him time to see if he wants to continue his career or retire, is a wiser and more logical choice.