Greed vs. loyalty vs. business. The tough decisions both sides for the Buccaneers need to make while working under the salary cap and what’s best for everyone.
It’s just about FA time, and every team is beginning to scramble to try and re-sign many of their own players and see what shakes out from other teams soon thereafter. The challenge, as always, will be the salary cap. How loyal can the team be while having to work within those sometimes impossibly restrictive constraints?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are no different; the team could end up looking noticeably different next season than the Super Bowl LV winning team. As much as Bruce Arians said “We’re keeping you here” to players like Chris Godwin, Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, and others during the SB celebration in Tampa a week or so ago, money talks, and you know what, walks.
Will the Bucs be able to keep the band together? Can Jason Licht and his team be able to pull some Harry Houdini wizardry right out of their collective keister and make it happen, at least in some part? I hate to say it, but unfortunately, I’m not holding my breath.
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Which players really want to stay in Tampa? Who might summon the heart and soul of Mike Evans and work to restructure their contracts to help keep other key players? Who will search for ‘greener’ pastures or end up a product of fiscal collateral damage?
This is a business, and NFL careers are relatively short as injuries could end it before it even starts, like Justin Evans, for example. Draftees and free agents compete for your job, and other factors also contribute to an abbreviated career.
How loyal can a player be when they must make the best decision for themselves and their family? Is it greed when a player has an opportunity to get the big payday from another team? Barrett or Godwin could be one of these players, and the Bucs may end up keeping Shaq instead since ‘Edge’ is a more challenging position to replace.
As I would love to see all these guys come back, here are a few of the more notable players we may not see in the Red and Pewter next season. Chris Godwin, Ndamukong Suh, “Shady” McCoy, Leonard Fournette, Cam Brate, Ryan Griffin, Antonio Brown, and maybe Nunez-Roches and Gholston. Unless some are willing to do some one-year (maybe prove-it deals), ready to take a pay cut or restructure, it may be hard to keep some or many of these players.
Most of us make the same choices when presented with a better career opportunity. Again, this is a business, and Tampa is in a challenging position with a salary cap that may be less impressive than we first thought. Tough decisions will need to be made from both One Buc and the players themselves, but I can’t blame anyone for cashing in while they can, either with the Bucs or another team.