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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released just one player – tackle Kenyatta Walker – since Mar. 1.
Not only did the Bucs avoid paying Walker a $1.5 million roster bonus, that move freed up approximately $2.7 million in cap room.
The Buccaneers currently have about $5.2 million remaining in salary cap room, and Bucs general manager Bruce Allen would still like to sign a few more free agents and must leave enough money to sign Tampa Bay’s 2007 draft class.
The good news for the Bucs is only the top 51 salaries and dead cap room account for a team’s salary cap status, so the team doesn’t necessarily have to part ways with several players by the time it starts signing draft picks in July.
However, there are several players that could be released or traded by Tampa Bay in the upcoming months. Pewter Report identifies these players and explains the cap implications for parting ways with each of them in this article.
Rumors have suggested Bucs CB Brian Kelly might not be back with the team and could be traded this offseason, a move that would create about $2.7 million in cap room. But it’s actually CB Juran Bolden who could be in danger of losing his job in Tampa Bay. The Bucs made an effort to bolster their cornerback position earlier this month by re-signing Phillip Buchanon and Torrie Cox, and inking Sammy Davis to a deal. The Bucs have several cornerbacks, including Ronde Barber, Kelly, Bolden, Buchanon, Alan Zemaitis, Davis and Cox, under contract in 2007. The Bucs don’t have to make a move at this position, but Bolden, 32, has suffered a rash of injuries during his pro career and could be the odd man out. Bolden is only scheduled to earn $871,000 in base salary and has an affordable $937,000 cap value in 2007, which will help his chances of remaining a Buc. Bolden’s roster spot could also be preserved if the Bucs decide to move Zemaitis to safety.
Injuries have plagued Quarles, who turns 36 in September and is currently contemplating retirement. The 2007 season is scheduled to be Quarles’ last with the Bucs, but he might be forced to retire due to different ailments that have doctors concerned about his health and life after football. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.3 million and has a cap value of $4.075 million in 2007. Quarles has played an integral role in Tampa Bay’s defense, which has finished nine of the past 10 seasons ranked in the top 10. But if Quarles retires or the Bucs release him, the team would create about $3.3 million in cap room. It would also pave the way for Barrett Ruud, the team’s second-round pick in 2005, to take over at middle linebacker.
Tampa Bay was more likely to part ways with Rice two months ago than it is now. That’s because the Bucs, like many teams, were hoping premier defensive ends like Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis), Charles Grant (New Orleans) and Justin Smith (Cincinnati) were going to hit the free agent market as scheduled. However, that didn’t happen thanks to the franchise tag each of those teams slapped on those respective players. Rice, 33, is approaching Lee Roy Selmon’s franchise sack record of 78.5, but he’s also coming off of a serious shoulder injury. As a result, this sackmaster had just two quarterback takedowns in 2006. Rice has the highest cap value ($10.450 million) and base salary ($7.250 million) of any player on Tampa Bay’s roster. The Bucs can create approximately $7.5 million in cap room by either releasing or trading Rice. But unless a team offers the Bucs a deal they can’t refuse, Rice likely will play out the final year of his contract with the team.
With Dewayne White getting away in free agency, Tampa Bay isn’t likely to release Spires, who will earn a $2 million base salary and has a $3.467 million cap charge in 2007. If the Bucs release or trade Spires, 32, it would create approximately $1 million in cap room.
By striking out on Al Johnson and Jeremy Newberry in free agency, Tampa Bay isn’t likely to release or trade Wade. However, it’s a move that could be considered since parting ways with Wade would create approximately $1.2 million in cap room for the Buccaneers. The Bucs are determined to upgrade the center position, evidenced by their interest in Johnson and Newberry. Although it is high on Nick Mihlhauser, Tampa Bay could draft a center in April. In the meantime, the Bucs have guard Dan Buenning practicing the center position. But Wade appears to be safe for now as the Bucs are thin at center.
Wyms has a $3.9 million base salary and $4.350 million cap value in 2007. Tampa Bay was hoping Wyms could establish himself as a full-time player and threat along the defensive line, but that didn’t happen, even after the Bucs traded Booger McFarland last season. Tampa Bay can free up approximately $3.4 million by releasing or trading Wyms, who is considered a valuable contributor to Tampa Bay’s defense. But one could make the argument that Wyms isn’t worth what the Bucs are paying him this year.
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