5 moves Buccaneers need to make after salary cap increase

Now that the salary cap has gone up, the Buccaneers have some room to make a few big moves.
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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On Friday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were gifted the first big win of the offseason when the NFL announced that this year’s salary cap would be set at $255.4 million. It’s a historic increase from last year and created millions of dollars in space for teams ahead of free agency opening in a few weeks.

For the Bucs it means massaging an already stressful situation in which the team needs to find a way to bring back three key free agents as well as making meaningful additions to other areas of the roster.

Antoine Winfield Jr., Baker Mayfield, and Mike Evans are all free agents this March and each of them need to be brought back. They represent the top priorities for Tampa Bay this offseason but not the only ones, as the new space means potentially bringing back Lavonte David and other veterans a lot easier.

5 moves Buccaneers need to make after salary cap increase

Match any free agent offer for Mike Evans

It goes without saying that the Bucs need to find a way to re-sign Mike Evans, but the plot is going to be a little thicker than that. All signs are pointing to Evans hitting the open market and testing free agency, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for Tampa Bay.

Evans has made it clear he wants to retire with the Buccaneers, but he’s not going to settle for less to do it. Testing free agency will help establish a price range, which could increase the likelihood that he returns next season. Both sides were described as being ‘far apart’ but once Evans hits the market and his value is firmly established the Bucs can work toward matching any offers he gets — which, within reason, should be the outcome.

Tampa Bay had over $10 million in cap space created by the historic league-wide bump, which gives them even more wiggle room to find a way to fit Evans on the books. An increased salary cap will also potentially mean higher offers, but the Bucs are playing on an even playing field even if it’s elevated.

If anything, the Bucs are in a better position than they were last week to pay Evans the big contract he wants, and there are almost no excuses for letting him get away.