The Buccaneers can save themselves in free agency.
If you’re a player in Tampa right now, your main goal is to win another Super Bowl. The Buccaneers already proved they could reach these heights after just one season in the Tom Brady era, and the current goal is to go for broke again.
In short, the players that stay care about winning above the money, not that one is better than the other. At the end of the day, this is a job first, and the players have to take care of themselves.
If any Buccaneer free agents decided to walk away during free agency, that is more than within their right. They have already won a Super Bowl with a team that should have never been in that position in the first place, and now is their time to relish the massive paychecks they have earned.
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For some players, this may mean leaving the Bucs, who are, like the rest of the NFL, strapped for cash. Tampa Bay may have more cap space than most of the league, but that space is still very small relative to the players that need to return.
For the sake of reason, let’s say that the Buccaneers need approximately 40 million dollars in 2021 alone to pay Lavonte David, Chris Godwin, and Shaquil Barrett. This doesn’t even consider the free agents to fill depth roles, rookies, or anything else.
Thirty to forty million dollars for these three players will indicate some contracts that are heavily backloaded or structured in a way that will take the pressure off of 2021, but that is not outside of the realm of possibility.
As it stands with the projected 180 million dollar cap ceiling, the Bucs have just shy of 12 million dollars, according to overthecap.com. That number could go as high as 15 or 16 million as early as today, but these are currently just estimates.
Without addressing rookies or any of the glaring needs (of which there are plenty), the Buccaneers will need to find approximately 18 to 28 million dollars in the current cap just to bring back their top three free agents.
The Buccaneers have to rely on their stars
The Buccaneer front office has shown the ability to “find” this extra money in the past, but the easiest way to pull this off is to have some of the pricier options restructure their contracts.
Mike Evans and Tom Brady are two prime candidates to free up some cash. Brady, who is likely going to sign an extension with the Bucs, could backload his contract more and kick the can down the road with a team-friendly deal now.
Evans, who should also retire as a Buccaneer, is another player that the Bucs can work around, especially considering that he has already come out as willing to work around the money now.
These two don’t have to make these decisions, it would be entirely voluntary, but their selflessness would keep the Buccaneers in contention without having to let one of their big names walk.
Brady and Evans wouldn’t be enough on their own, but the Buccaneers could get around 15-16 million dollars in space by playing with these two contracts alone. This much money probably wouldn’t be enough to re-sign everyone for 2021, but it would undoubtedly be a great start.
As the cap information comes out today, Tampa Bay should have a much better understanding of how to move forward with this challenging process.
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