If Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans thought this offseason was a tough one, just wait until the decisions that have to be made next year.
The Bucs were able to untangle a $55 million salary cap knot but it wasn't easy.
Next offseason the Bucs are projected to have roughly $28 million in cap space but are already earmarking future dollars to important players that need new deals.
Specifically, Tristan Wirfs is a free agent at the end of this upcoming season. It'd be too much of a stretch to include him in this list, but he's the tip of the iceberg for all other decisions that get made. The Bucs should obviously be afraid of losing a top tackle in the league -- but they won't. Jason Licht will move hell and earth to find a way to give Wirfs a long-term contract that keeps him in Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future, and that's not really up for debate.
What is will be what happens after that. There are some pretty key players who are pending free agents next winter, and assuming Wirfs gets paid not everyone is going to be back in 2024.
Devin White, LB
This one might irk some Bucs fans, but the fact of the matter is Devin White is a key piece of the defense and is one of the best linebackers in the entire league. He's had a few rough patches over the last year, and fans have rightly called out what seems like a lack of effort.
However, when White is playing at the level he's supposed to he's an All-Pro. That's who the Bucs would be investing in, not the guy who annoyed everyone with his play in 2022.
Of course, if we don't see that guy at all this season then the conversation changes. Right now White is locked in a battle with the Bucs front office to try and collect a new contract around the $100 million mark, which is extremely rich for the blood of a franchise trying to be careful about its spending.
White not playing up to his standard next season will impact his price, but it will take something drastic to make this a conversation about how the Bucs are better off without him. As frustrating as it was to watch him, it's emphatically false and foolish to say that he's an expendable piece that everyone can feel good about losing in free agency next offseason.