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

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.

Spotrac.com actually has Humphries’ estimated market value at $10.4 million, while the website has Alexander’s market value estimated at $10.3 million.

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

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.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

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: sr@pewterreport.com
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Andy Ely
2 years ago

I feel like Caleb Benonach should definitely be one of those cap cuts as well

Captain Sly
2 years ago

I could sleep easily by cutting everyone on this list not named Mcoy. That”ll free up 34.5 mil right there.

BigSombrero
Reply to  Captain Sly
2 years ago

#CutAllGeezers #WhoPlayedAllSixteen

McCoy 13m
D.Jax 10m
Unrein 3.75m
E. Smith 2m

28.75m savings and a roster that isn’t so conditioned to losing every year.

BigSombrero
2 years ago

If the Bucs extend Winston this year with a contract that coincides with BA’s 4 year deal, how much cap savings do the Bucs get?

Winston’s number for 2019 is about 20.9m. If they write a new 4 year deal for 72m(18m/year) with 2 years guaranteed, that will save them a ton of money this year and future years.

BigSombrero
Reply to  BigSombrero
2 years ago

SR – The above question was for you. I just looked at Keenums deal from last year to come up with the 18m/year. Have you heard anything about extending Winston?

Captain Sly
Reply to  BigSombrero
2 years ago

Why would Winston’s agent allow him to sign a deal like that when Jimmy G just got 135 mil?

BigSombrero
Reply to  Captain Sly
2 years ago

It’s a good point. Im not sure he would advise him to do so.

Jimmy G and Kirk Cousins broke the bank, but were squeeky clean off the field and had top performances on it.

Drew Brees also extended for 2 years in 2018 at 25m/yr.

Mike Glennon won 2017 free agency at 15m/yr x 3 yrs. Also squeeky clean.

The agent may tell him that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

Bob Will
2 years ago

Cut DJ and give most of his money to Humphries he is worth a lot more to the Buc’s than Jackson.

EricNV
Reply to  Bob Will
2 years ago

I agree. Draft a speed receiver in the middle-late rounds.

macnupe
2 years ago

Most of the commentary regarding GMAC is trade or cut. Why is the consideration of GMac restructuring not one of the first mentioned options? Oftentimes PR references the heyday with Sapp and Brooks, but rarely mentioned is Sapp had a lot left in the tank before they released him. Nor is it mentioned that there was a huge hole between 2004 and 2010. Let’s learn from our mistake of letting good players go and strengthen our team with a solid foundation. PR and SR often says how influential you are to the front office, can you beat the drum for… Read more »

76Buc
Reply to  macnupe
2 years ago

Very, very well said. My thoughts exactly!

EricNV
Reply to  macnupe
2 years ago

Why are you okay with paying a 31 year-old DT $13 million? If McCoy was amenable to a salary cut putting him at or below $10 million ($8-$9 million would be even better) for next year, I’d be okay with it, but we have too many holes to fill and, as of right now, not enough cap space or draft picks to fill them.

macnupe
Reply to  EricNV
2 years ago

Hey Eric,
The second line asked the question, why is restructuring not one of the mentioned options. From reading your post, I think we are saying the same thing…other than not mentioning approval for GMACs salary.

Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

Cut DJax, Allen, Gholston and Evan Smith. $20.75 mill right there, to go with nearly $16 mill. Explore Brate trades, $7 mill there.

Restructure GMC, tag D Smith, re-sign Kwon and Hump.

76Buc
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

Add Unrien to list

GrayBalls
Reply to  76Buc
2 years ago

My feeling is Unrein will retire. With concussion symptoms lasting this long he would be foolish to even Want to step back on the field. That being said, the Buccaneers can not outright realease him, due to NFL law. The team and Unrein’s camp would have to come to agree upon a number for an injury settlement….. Unless he retires, that is

TB2018
2 years ago

wow unrein is still in concussion protocol??????

chefboho
Reply to  TB2018
2 years ago

I was thinking the same thing. Is he dead or what? Takes a hit to the head in practice and almost 8 months later and he’s still in protocol? The Bucs have such a funny history with FA that get fluke injuries.

GrayBalls
Reply to  chefboho
2 years ago

A concussion in a contact sport is not a fluke injury, more of an inevitable one. Unrein’s situation reminds me of Brian Bradley’s, as far as longevity of symptoms. Bradley was more talented in his respective sport, though

deeznuts
2 years ago

IMO cutting McCoy would be a grave mistake. We already have enough holes to fill and that would just create another. If vea doesn’t stay healthy like last year, we’re going to be bare bones at DT. I’d restructure his contract, give him two years with some guaranteed cash to lower this years cap hit. He’s still a great player as a gap penetrator even though he doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet

BigSombrero
Reply to  deeznuts
2 years ago

His 28 tackles and 6 sacks will be hard to replace. Plays 64% of snaps. 31 years young on 2/25. 6th highest paid DT in the NFL. 33rd ranked Interior Defensive Lineman vs Pass, 28th vs Run. Hasnt finished in the top 10 vs the run or pass since 2014. That was 5 years ago.

https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/pro-gerald-mccoy-could-be-released-by-the-tampa-bay-buccaneers

Heck of a nice gentleman, but he’s not very good. A rookie could EASILY replace his production at 10% of his salary.

BigSombrero
Reply to  BigSombrero
2 years ago

One last point about stats…
He’s being compared to other interior defensive linemen who’s production doesn’t “show up on the stats sheet”. His paycheck shows up in his bank account and the losses show up in the W/L column.

I hope Licht can trade him for a 5th round pick, but a 6th seems more likely.

EricNV
Reply to  BigSombrero
2 years ago

I agree, but having a veteran at DT to continue mentoring Vea is valuable, and I would personally like to see the Bucs restructure McCoy’s deal to where he’s only an $8 million cap hit instead of $13 million. The big question is would McCoy go for that, or would he rather be traded or cut so he could potentially land with a SB contender.

For all those statistics you referenced, do you think NE or LA would pass on McCoy for $8-$10 million?

BigSombrero
Reply to  EricNV
2 years ago

Yes. I think last years Super Bowl teams would pass on him.

Suh made about the same as McCoy and was a lot more productive. Game closing tackles/sacks/batted passes.
Adrian Clayborn made 1.5 million last year. He is at a premium position as a DE/RDE!

If Mccoy will restructure to 2m/yr, then the Bucs should keep him.

Buc stops here
2 years ago

I would be shocked if Brate is cut. He is only $7 million a year. In comparison, top TEs are paid about $11 to $13 million a year. He is a solid starter and if he is cut, he probably would make the same or more elsewhere (according to most reports, he is relatively underpaid for what he puts out compared to OJ Howard who gets $12 million a year).

Spitfire
Reply to  Buc stops here
2 years ago

Howard is only getting $3 mil a year under his rookie contract

Spitfire
2 years ago

This is painful man… I hate the thought of losing any beloved players like GMac and Humphries… If I am looking st it though from a Business standpoint and not with my Heart. I would consider trading Brate for a high draft pick. He is an Amazing TE but as we saw last year, Howard is taking over and Brates value will only go down if he’s not getting the ball. Cutting everyone on that list except trying to restructure GMac first would give us the room to do what we need and ultimately might be the best way for… Read more »

BucRy
Reply to  Spitfire
2 years ago

Probably is that if we cut Howard, we don’t have a viable 2nd option without Brate..Howard has not been able to stay healthy since being in the league so we should really keep Brate.

BucRy
Reply to  BucRy
2 years ago

Problem*

Spitfire
Reply to  BucRy
2 years ago

Nobody wants to cut Howard. Howard is the future at TE.

BucRy
Reply to  Spitfire
2 years ago

lol i meant Brate!

fredster
2 years ago

Only one on list of make every effort to keep is Brate. Rest won’t be missed IMO including McCoy.

What the Buc
What the Buc
2 years ago

We live in a world now where a possession slot receiver is worth $10M a year, that’s just crazy.

BigSombrero
Reply to  What the Buc
2 years ago

Copycat league. Edelman Superbowl MVP.

Hump is a quick(but not fast) slot guy with great clutch hands. He will likely get paid. Maybe not 10 mil, but he will get a shot to be a focal point/counter point of an offense. I think Indy is a great fit. T Y Hilton takes the top of the defense off and here comes Hump underneath for 10, 12, 15 yards and a first down. They have the money to pay him what he deserves. Honestly, he just kindof looks like he’d be a Colt.

German Buc
2 years ago

Our D was histroically bad in 2018, so none of the leaders should be allowed to feel save – beside JPP, who will represent the veteran leadership needed in that room. Draft gurus keep saying we have a lot of D-line talent in this years draft. In addition I heard about some really good O-line players, so why not giving a younger team a shot? That means we should trade GMC (4th rounder?) and cut the rest of the D-line guys on the list above, which should save 24.5m (25.5m minus approx. 1m for signing the pick). Bryan Anger was… Read more »

Wadeless
2 years ago

I don’t like cutting Brate if you are going with Winston as they seem to have as good a chemistry as Winston does with any other receive outside of Evans…this is especially true in the redone. I cut Humphries though. I like him in the slot but you have to make choices sometimes. Plus he has had some really big fumbles in key spots over the past couple of years. I also cut loose DJack…he doesn’t want to be in Tampa and you can’t have people who don’t want to be here part of the team. I think some of… Read more »