Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agency: Team can pay everyone

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

It is not a question of IF the Buccaneers can keep everyone, but whether they WANT to keep everyone.

There has been a lot of incorrect information about the cap situation for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They can pay everyone. While the Buccaneers do have a lot of high-profile free agents this season, and the cap is reduced, they have options. It will cost them in later seasons, but after winning Superbowl LV with this roster, it should be all in time.

Let’s run through a scenario where the Bucs can keep all of their major free agents.

Total Cap Space = 185 million

(It may end up being only the baseline of 180 million, but it would only change how much of the future the Bucs would have to leverage.)

Buccaneers current free cap space = 19 million


Restructures simply pay money owed on the current contract to a player up front, and pushes the Cap hit down the road. If the plan is to be all in for the next year or two with Brady, any player that can be restructured to make enough room probably will. These are the three most likely.

Mike Evans
Restructure Savings = 7.5 million
Ali Marpet
Restructure Savings = 6 million
Cameron Brate
Restructure Savings = 3.5 million

This scenario doesn’t require Evans to take the pay cut he alluded to while still saving cap space for this year. Brate may end up being asked to take a straight-up pay cut or be traded which would save another close to 3 million.


Tom Brady extension = 2 years, 23 million
2021 Cap hit = 20 million
Cap Savings = 8.5 million
William Gholston extension = 3 years, 5.5 million
2021 Cap hit = 3 million
Cap savings = 2.5 million

Brady doesn’t have to take a pay cut to make the numbers work, but it’s a win for him and the team. It gives the team room to keep talent around him and he gets the commitment from the team through age 45. It also leaves them some room for a couple of solid backups, or midseason additions to replace injured players.

Gholston has been extremely good and may end up requiring a slightly larger contract. Even if he does, they should be able to keep the Cap hit about the same. It’s highly unlikely but they could also cut him and save 5.5 million.

Total Cap Savings = 28 million

Total free Cap space = 47 million


Notable FA Signings:
Shaquil Barrett contract – 4 years, 19 million

Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

2021 Cap hit = 7 million
Rob Gronkowski contract – 1 year, 4 million
2021 Cap hit = 4 million
Lavonte David contract – 3 years, 12 million
2021 Cap hit = 6 million
Ndamukong Suh contract – 2 years, 5 million
2021 Cap hit = 4 million
Chris Godwin contract – Franchise tag, 16.5 million
2021 Cap hit = 16.5 million
Antonio Brown contract – 1 year, 4 million
2021 Cap hit = 4 million

Total free-agent cap hit = 41.5 million

Final Cap space = 5.5 million

This doesn’t include Fournette. He’s a weird case and it’s hard to tell what kind of salary he would command. The rest is pretty standard going rates for those players at their current age. The older players get more security with a little less pay, and much of the money on the larger contracts is put into signing or roster bonuses. The Bucs would then prorate it over the rest of the contract.

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There’s also no reason to worry about the cost of draft picks as any that are signed would be replacing someone on the roster. If they replace a backup the rookie contract except for the first round pick would be the same or less. If they replaced a starter on a non rookie contract, it would save even more.

The Bucs could be even more aggressive than this if they needed to be. For example, they could give Godwin a long-term contract allowing them to take a much smaller hit than the Franchise Tag allows. If these theoretical contract numbers are correct then they won’t need to. Losing just Godwin or Barret is possible.

The downside to this type of roster building is that you pay the bill eventually. The Bucs in this scenario would probably have the majority of the money come due in 2023. Brady walks off into the sunset after a three-peat, and the Bucs are in a rebuild looking for a new quarterback. There’s still probably enough money to hang on to your young cornerstone players like Vita Vea, Tristan Wirfs, Antoine Winfield, maybe one or two of the Corners, and the draft picks between now and then.

If it’s worth going all in is up to the Buccaneers front office. They do have the ability to keep everyone if they’re willing.

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