With the release of defensive end Vinny Curry on Tuesday, let’s get an update on the Bucs’ salary cap heading into the 2019 campaign. According to OverTheCap.com, Tampa Bay had $8,842,607 in cap room prior to Curry’s release, which saved the team $8 million with his 2019 base salary off the books.
That means the Bucs now have around $16 million in cap room (Spotrac.com has Tampa Bay’s cap room at $15,041,449) but more cuts will be coming as the team will need additional cap space to re-sign pending free agent left tackle Donovan Smith to a contract extension that is projected to be between $12 million to $13 million per year, or the team could use the franchise tag on Smith, which would hit Tampa Bay’s 2019 salary cap for about $14 million in 2019.
Bucs Linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs will also need cap room to re-sign middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who is recovering from a torn ACL, and slot receiver Adam Humphries as both will be free agents in March without new deals. Rumors suggest that Alexander’s camp is seeking a deal in the neighborhood of $10 million per year, which would put him on par with fellow Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, while Humphries’ reps are talking about a contract extension worth around $8 million per year.
Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg typically meet with the agents of the team’s pending free agents at the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which takes place from February 27 – March 4, to discuss contract extensions. So don’t expect any extensions for this trio for the next several weeks.
Aside from those three pending free agents, the Bucs also need to have room to fill other needs, such as a backup quarterback to Jameis Winston, as both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Griffin will both be free agents, in addition to tendering some offers to restricted free agents like starting running back Peyton Barber, safeties Andrew Adams and Isaiah Johnson, offensive tackle Leonard Wester and others.
Three Buccaneers – cornerback Ryan Smith, defensive end Carl Nassib and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch – all received playing time bonuses for 2018, which affects the team’s 2019 salary cap.
Smith’s new cap number is $2,148,040 in 2019, an increase of $1.28 million, as he will make $720,000 in base salary and see $148,040 of his signing bonus proration hit the team’s cap this year.
Benenoch’s new cap number is $2,063,296, which is an increase of $1.28 million. Benenoch is set to earn $720,000 in base salary with a signing bonus proration of $63,296 also hitting the cap.
Nassib’s base salary in 2019 is $868,000 but his new cap number is $2 million due to a playing time bonus of $1,13,200 he earned last year.
Bucs D-linemen Beau Allen, Gerald McCoy and Will Gholston – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
The Bucs and other NFL teams are expecting the league’s salary cap for 2019 to be set near $190 million. Tampa Bay will need at least $45 million in salary cap room to re-sign Smith, Alexander and Humphries – if the team so chooses – in addition to re-signing other Bucs free agents and adding some more talent in free agency and the draft. That would mean clearing close to $30 million in addition cap space.
Here is a list of Bucs players that could meet the same fate Curry did earlier this week.
Additional Possible Cap Cuts DT Gerald McCoy – $13 million WR DeSean Jackson – $10 million TE Cameron Brate – $7 million DT Beau Allen – $5 million DT Mitch Unrein – $3.75 million DE Will Gholston – $3.75 million P Bryan Anger – $3 million OL Evan Smith – $2 million Total = $47.5 million
The Bucs might explore conversations with other teams regarding the potential trade value of Jackson and McCoy at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Releasing Unrein will be tricky and may come later in the offseason because he has not yet been cleared from concussion protocol.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com