Smart Shopping: Why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Contract Offers Set Them Up For Success


Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Dashon Goldson today, and did so with over half of the deal being guaranteed. The 41 million dollars that Goldson will reportedly make will include 22 million in guaranteed money, meaning something catastrophic happening in the first years of the deal would be costly. That’s the risk that has to be taken to acquire top talent in the NFL, and Mark Dominik and his team go about it the right way. Former agent Joel Corry described the Bucs front office’s approach to free agency like this:

This means that instead of chucking out a big signing bonus which is pro-rated over the course of the salary cap figure, the Buccaneers do things more simply. They offer the deal, have a portion of it guaranteed, and every year they pay what the player earns, no more and no less. Take Eric Wright’s deal, for instance. He was guaranteed his entire year 1 and year 2 salaries as a part of the original agreement, so his 5 year 38 million dollar deal could be ended after two seasons with no money due. While the exact details on Goldson’s contract are not out yet, the Bucs likely employed a similar tactic on his deal.

As we see in the Eric Wright situation, sometimes things can happen that make an investment seem immediately worth getting rid of. Even in a worst case scenario where Wright is due his guaranteed money in 2013, he’s able to be released after the 2013 season with no cost to the Buccaneers. This type of planning and reasonable contract structuring is going to help the Buccaneers avoid being in a situation like the Baltimore Ravens, who I discussed a few weeks ago here on the blog. When you take a look at Joe Flacco’s contract, you notice that he was given a massive signing bonus on a contract that will reach almost 30 million dollars in it’s fourth year. So even if the Ravens release him or otherwise move him along before that year, they would still take a cap hit for the remaining signing bonus. Joel Corry explained on Twitter:

In other words, the Buccaneers won’t be in a position where money is held against the cap just because a player was paid money up front. The salary cap prowess of Mark Dominik continues to shine through, and sets the Buccaneers up well to contend in free agency, while keeping a hold on growing player salaries. So how could this make a major splash for Tampa Bay?

If Darrelle Revis gets a chance to sit down with the Buccaneer front office, the prospect of guaranteed money in the first 3 years of a new deal might be as enticing, if not more enticing, than a large signing bonus. The security of a few years of chiseled in stone cash might be just what the superstar corner is looking for, but also gives the Buccaneers some flexibility just two or three years into a contract with Revis, should his injury troubles return. A deal for Revis is certainly going to take a lot of bargaining, and the benefits of such a trade are debatable. But as Pro Football Talk reported, there is certainly still room left for Revis Island. Even after bringing the Hawk into town.

Have questions about how NFL salaries work? This post by a former NFL front office member should help. Check it out by clicking here.