Bucs after Dark: Tampa Bay Buccaneers are balling on a budget

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not have much wiggle room with the cap space, yet have been able to bring in and maintain multiple contributors.

Entering free agency with less than $2 million in cap space after left tackle Donovan Smith was re-signed to a three-year deal worth $41.25 million, many remained skeptical that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be able to maneuver within the open market at all. Thanks to the trade of disgruntled wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Jason Licht freed up $10 million to play with.

The Buccaneers have quickly turned that $10 million into $13 million after the release of punter Bryan Anger into three new players and three extensions. Turning two contracts into six is quite the masterpiece, especially for a team that needs to utilize every single dollar they have, as Tampa Bay does.

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While the Bucs kissed Kwon Alexander and Adam Humphries goodbye, they will likely receive a complimentary pick for each of them, and have already added a receiver to fill the void of Jackson in Breshad Perriman, who turned his last chance in Cleveland into a healthy $4 million pay day.

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Tampa Bay negotiated a former first round pick and a player who has thrived under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles into a one-year deal worth just $2.5 million in Deone Bucannon. If Bucannon is able to prove that he is still the heat-seeking missile that he was before Steve Wilks took over the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, then he will be looking at a healthy raise, giving Tampa Bay the time to clear the cap space to make that happen.

Cutting Anger two years in to his five-year deal allowed the Bucs to free up some extra cash, and while the details of the deal have yet to be reported, we can assume that Licht turned that money around and signed a younger punter in Bradley Pinion to a four-year deal for less money annually. Again, turning a little bit of cash into the potential for big time production, at the punter position nonetheless.

This afternoon, the Bucs cut defensive tackle Mitch Unrein after yet another failed physical as he has been in the concussion protocol for over eight months now. They then used that money to officially re-sign their leading rusher from a year ago in Peyton Barber; yet another example of using scarce money wisely.

While the amount of cap space that the Buccaneers have right now remains a mystery, more space could be cleared in order to stretch money even further and fill even more holes on the roster.

Many fans are upset that the team has not made any splash signings, however, with tempered expectations and an understanding of Tampa Bay’s cap situation, one should be absolutely thrilled with the amount of activity that Licht has been able to produce with so few resources.

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With more quality, cost-efficient players still left on the market, our eyes will be peeled to see who else will be joining the Buccaneers for a make-or-break 2019. Licht has already stretched $13 million in cap space a country mile, and it will be interesting to see how much further he can pull the Buccaneers’ limited resources.