OTAs have come and gone, and there’s no sign of Demar Dotson. “This is my approach to voluntary workouts,’’ head coach Lovie Smith said, according to ESPN. “They’re voluntary…Next week everything’s mandatory. I’m concerned if someone doesn’t show up for mandatory work.’’ Lovie may want to start hitting that panic button right about now because it’s become increasingly clear that Dotson is planning to hold out for a contract extension.
From the player perspective, Dotson should try to force the Buccaneers’ hand. After all, he was clearly the team’s best offensive lineman last season. He has the type of position flexibility that the Bucs are taking full advantage of by switching him between right and left tackle whenever they see fit. He’s nearing 30 and could be seen as an OT past his prime in a year.
Entering the third season of his four-year deal, Dotson is set to earn $2.5 million in 2015. According to Over The Cap, it’s nowhere near the top 15 among right tackles in the league which begs the question: How much is Dotson looking to make per year in a restructured deal? Because nearly all the arguments made in support of the player could be switched to favor the organization.
He was clearly the best offensive lineman on the team last year, but he was on a team that still gave up 52 sacks, tied for third-most in the league. Sure, Dotson was solid, but if he were on, say, the Dallas Cowboys or Green Bay Packers, he wouldn’t even be in the starting lineup. Tampa Bay shouldn’t be expected to give starter’s money to a player who wouldn’t be a starter on nearly every NFL team. With two years left on his deal, Dotson will be 31 and by then, a 26-year-old Kevin Pamphile may be ready to assume the starting right tackle role. Why invest more money than they need to?
Then again, the Buccaneers may have two young, inexperienced rookies in Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet on the offensive line and they will need a veteran presence at right tackle to offer stability and experience to their unit. Does that mean they should cave and give into Dotson’s demands? Again, it depends on what he’s asking for.
Last season, the Bucs were burned by Anthony Collins, who commanded a contract of $6 million per year. Tampa Bay isn’t going down that road or even remotely close again. Let’s hypothetically say that Dotson is looking to make $4 million per year. That would put his yearly salary at seventh on the team and second on the offensive line, behind Logan Mankins’ six-year, $51 million contract, a deal that was done while he was on the New England Patriots.
After their 2014 offseason spending crisis, general manager Jason Licht is focused on breaking the bank for game-changing players, like Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston, Alterraun Verner. You can even add Vincent Jackson’s $9.7 million per year deal. Dotson isn’t in that class. He needs to accept that and report to minicamp next week. Then again, they may need him just as much as he believes he needs a new deal.
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