Now that free agency has quietened, and preparation for the draft is in full swing, it’s unlikely the Bucs will add any more players to the roster before next month’s draft.
With that in mind, it’s time to look at one figure from the Bucs big free agency spending spree: guaranteed money.
In fact, of all 32 teams in the league, the Bucs handed out the most guaranteed money of any team this off-season with a whooping $74.3 million for not only their new players, but the players they re-signed too according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.
The next highest team on the list was the Denver Broncos who gave out $65.5 million in guaranteed salary. Only two other teams topped $50 million (Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings)
Initially, it looks like a scary amount of dollars, and it is, but it isn’t as bad as first thought.
By giving players a lot of guaranteed money means that in a few years, if things don’t pan out as expected, the Bucs can cut said player without having a large salary count against the salary cap (assuming they have fully paid the player their guaranteed money).
The Bucs routinely give out lots of money up front so as to avoid dead weight contracts in later years. Before Jason Licht was named the new general manager, Mark Dominik employed a similar approach.
For example, in Alterraun Verner’s four-year $25.75 million deal with the Bucs, he was given $14 million in guaranteed money. If in a couple of years Verner doesn’t live up to the Bucs expectations and they want to move on, it means that if the Bucs cut him they won’t have much dead weight from Verner’s contract count against the cap, thus freeing up more money to spend on free agents and draft signings.
Evan Dietrich-Smith is another example as he received $7.25 million in guaranteed money after penning a four-year $14.25 million contract.
Remember, guaranteed money does not count against the salary cap and is different from a signing bonus that can be prorated to save money against the cap.
Realistically, the approach Licht uses is profitable for both sides. The player receives a substantial amount of guaranteed money from the Bucs and for Tampa, it gives them leverage down the line that they can sever ties with a player and move on without a substantial salary cap hit.