The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cleared an additional $6 million in salary cap space on Saturday by releasing right guard Davin Joseph. The 30-year old Joseph was an eight-year starter at right guard for the Bucs and struggled in 2013 after missing the 2012 season due to a severe knee injury.
With Tampa Bay poised to enter free agency with approximately $18.8 million worth of salary cap space, the Buccaneers cleared an additional $6 million in salary cap room with the release of right guard Davin Joseph on Saturday. The Bucs now have close to $25 million worth of salary cap room to sign free agents, including Joseph's possible replacement.
Joseph, who was in the middle of a seven-year, $53-million contract, which he signed in 2011, missed the 2012 season after suffering a severe knee injury, which included a torn ACL, in the preseason that year. Joseph returned to the starting lineup last year at right guard, but struggled mightily to regain his previous form. Complicating his rehabilitation was the fact that Joseph suffered from a staph infection in his knee last May, which contributed to his slow recovery.
The 30-year old Joseph took the news in stride as he received a phone call from new head coach Lovie Smith Saturday morning with the news.
"I got the call from Lovie this morning," Joseph said. "They said they were going in a different direction and I respect their decision. My time in Tampa was a great time and I played for some really great coaches and played alongside some really good players. I had the chance to give back to my community. Tampa will always be home for me, but for my career, I'll have to go play somewhere else. If they're cleaning house, they are cleaning house. If that's the best way for them to move forward, I wish them good luck with the transition. I'm going to find somewhere else to play. It's their job to make the Buccaneers the best team they can and they don't see me as part of their plan."
Joseph said the Bucs did not approach him about taking a pay cut in order to stay in Tampa Bay.
"I never got word of it," Joseph said. "I don't know if they talked to my agent about a salary reduction. They're going to give me the opportunity to go test the free agent market as soon as I can."
Joseph played in 98 games for the Buccaneers, starting 97 after becoming the team's first-round draft pick in 2006. The 6-foot-3, 313-pound Joseph made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2008 and again following the 2011 season.
The poor play of the Buccaneers offensive line was one of the biggest surprises during a 4-12 season in 2013, especially considering that Tampa Bay had the highest-paid offensive line in the NFL, totaling $31.695 million There could be other players released or asked to take pay cuts, such as center Jeremy Zuttah, who is scheduled to make $4.25 million, and left tackle Donald Penn, who is in line to earn $6.75 million in 2014.
The Buccaneers currently have three guards on the roster in left guard Carl Nicks, who missed most of the last two seasons with toe injuries and also developed MRSA in 2013, Patrick Omameh and Jason Foster, who was not on the team in 2013. Zuttah has started before at left and right guard, and Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith, who have also played guard in Tampa Bay, are unrestricted free agents and their return to the Bucs is in question as free agency begins on Tuesday, March 11.
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