The Buccaneers are in a rare position for an NFL franchise.
They have two players on their defense that are easily in the top five, maybe even top three at their position, and they are both playing under their rookie contracts.
Both DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David need to be locked up for the long term to avoid any possible problems in contract negotiations down the road, but for different reasons.
McCoy, who made his 2nd consecutive Pro Bowl in 2013, is set to earn approximately $12.7M in base salary in 2014, the final year of his contract. If he is not extended, the Bucs’ disruptive force in the middle will hit the open market and become a hot commodity around the league.
David, who was first-team All Pro despite being snubbed for the Pro Bowl in 2013, is making mere pennies compared to how he should be compensated. The third-year man out of Nebraska is under contract through the 2015 season, but at just over $700,000 per year in base salary. Both David and his agent know that he should be paid as one of the best young linebackers in the NFL, and Bucs GM Jason Licht would be wise to extend him as early as he can.
Tampa Bay has $12.8M in cap space, according to OverTheCap.com. They will need save a few million to pay their draft signees, likely leaving them under the $10M mark. Still, properly done contracts will pay the players what they deserve, and spread out the money to lessen the cap hits as much as possible.
To give you an idea of how underpaid Lavonte David is, I will bring up the ridiculous contract of Michael Koenen, Tampa Bay’s punter. Koenen, who had a pretty bad year in 2013, is set to be paid $3.25M in 2014. That is over three times what David is set to earn, and he’s just an average punter.
It’s time to get these guys their new contracts before it becomes a problem. The Bucs already have plenty of holes to fill, so they should be itching to make sure that DT and LB don’t become holes for years to come.