With the recent acquisitions of kicker Ryan Succop and running back Leonard Fournette the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were tight against the 2020 salary cap and had to once again go to Mike Evans for relief.
For the second time in two years since the team signed Evans to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in 2018, Buce general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg have restructured the Pro Bowl wide receiver’s contract to create cap space.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Bucs had just $2,185,547 worth of cap space available before adding running back Leonard Fournette’s $2 million base salary to the team’s Top 51 cap values, which is how NFL team’s salary caps are calculated. Fournette has agreed to terms with the Bucs, but is in the COVID-19 testing protocol and won’t be finished with the protocol until Sunday – assuming he does not test positive – when he will be allowed inside the team’s headquarters to take his physical and sign his one-year deal, which is worth a maximum of $3.5 million with incentives.
Evans was scheduled to make $16.75 million in base salary in 2020 with a $17.95 million cap hit due to a previous restructure, and was the second-highest paid Buccaneer behind quarterback Tom Brady and his $25 million salary. The Bucs reduced Evans’ 2020 cap charge to $8,387,500 ($7,187,500 for this year and a $1.2 million proration from last year’s restructure) by reducing Evans’ base salary this year to $4 million and converting $12.75 million into per-game roster bonuses that are guaranteed.
This move created $9,562,500 in cap space that can be used to sign Fournette, who will actually count $2.5 million towards the cap because of $500,000 in likely to be earned incentives, and the team’s practice squad players, in addition to having cap room to be used for players that are on injured reserve during the 2020 season.
After roster cuts pare the team down to 53 players, Tampa Bay will begin to assemble its 16-player practice squad on Sunday afternoon after the waiver process is complete.