Potential Buccaneers cap casualty feels like an easy decision for front office

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Now that the NFL offseason is officially here, it's time for some tough decisions to start getting made in Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers have three key free agents who need to be brought back, although only two of them seem like sure things. Antoine Winfield is likely going to get franchise tagged and all signs continue to point toward Baker Mayfield getting a long-term team. Things are a bit dicier with Mike Evans, but it still feels like the Bucs will find a way to work out a way for him to return.

While those are three massive moves, they aren't the only big decisions Jason Licht needs to make.

Unlike last offseason, the Bucs will have more money to spend and more wiggle room to add players. The cap space is already shriking, though, as the team took on almost $20 million in dead cap space due to void years on the deals for Winfield, Evans, and Mayfield.

Even if that hadn't been the case, the Bucs are still likely to look at ways to free up cap space and that means potentially bidding farewell to a former starter.

Russell Gage listed as potential cap casualty for Buccaneers this offseason

Ari Meirov, from The 33rd Team and also That Guy From Twitter, put together a list of potential cap casualties for each team and listed a no-brainer for the Buccaneers.

While it would no doubt be painful, letting Russell Gage go to save some cap space feels like a move that helps the team more than it hurts.

""Russell Gage missed the entire past season with a knee injury suffered during training camp. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers found younger and cheaper options that helped replace him alongside Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The Buccaneers have several key impending free agents they need to pay, so they are likely to move on from Gage this offseason.""

The 33rd Team

Gage suffered a season-ending injury during joint practice with the Jets last August, and it opened up the opportunity for rookie Trey Palmer to step up and start showing the team what he has. There was already a lot of buzz about the former Nebraska speedster, and he lived up to the billing as best he could with the time he was given.

It was far from perfect, but Palmer showed enough promise that he deserves a real look as the Bucs WR3 moving forward. His role could become even more important if Mike Evans leaves in free agency, as there's insane upside to what he could bring to the team.

He's not going to step in and replace Evans if that nightmare scenario plays out, and it's likely that he'll play behind a rookie like Keon Coleman if Tampa Bay ends up going that route in the draft. But Palmer no doubt has a place in the Bucs' future, and that role might be the one that Gage was forced to vacate due to injury.

If the Bucs do move on from Gage, it would save around $6.4 million in cap space but would amount to almost $7 million in dead money due to void years on his deal. The real question is will the Bucs view his $10 million salary for next season as worth what role he might play knowing Palmer has probably passed him on the depth chart?

Gage might be better off with another team and trying for a more important role, so it could be a mutually beneficial decision if Tampa Bay decides to move on.

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