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Pewter Report has spent the past two months providing its print and Pewter Insider subscribers with detailed salary cap information as it pertains to Tampa Bay’s 2006 offseason.
We’ve used articles such as Future Forecast, Top 15 Bucs Cap Values and Flynn’s Focus to enlighten our subscribers in terms of which players might become salary cap casualties this offseason as the Bucs attempt to trim anywhere between $14-19 million in cap room by Mar. 3.
Of the 75-plus players on Tampa Bay’s roster, Pewter Report could deem just six of them as “untouchable” from a salary cap standpoint, meaning they’ll likely be staying put in 2006. Here’s the list and reasons why the Bucs won’t part ways with these six, million-dollar players this offseason.
DT Anthony McFarland – Although he has had an injury-plagued career and underachieved as a Buccaneer since entering the NFL as a 1999 first-round pick out of LSU, McFarland probably won’t be going anywhere this offseason. In order to trade for quarterback Tim Rattay during the regular season, the Bucs needed to free up cap room and did so by reworking McFarland’s contract. By restructuring, McFarland’s cap value escalates to $8.1 million in 2006. To make matters worse, since “Booger” restructured in October, neither he nor the Bucs can touch his contract again until October of 2006. Trading or releasing McFarland, who played well against the run but struggled to get penetration in pass-rushing situations, would result in $6.692 million worth of dead cap room and a cap hit of approximately $500,000. When they reworked his deal, the Bucs essentially committed to McFarland for the 2006 season.
RB Cadillac Williams – Williams, who rushed for 1,178 yards (4.1 avg.) and six touchdown en route to earning NFL Rookie of the Year honors, won’t be going anywhere in 2006. His salary cap value climbs to $2.863 million this year, but that’s a bargain for arguably the team’s most explosive offensive player. The possibility of RB Michael Pittman exercising a clause in his deal that allows him to buy himself out of the last year of his contract for $200,000 just further solidifies Williams’ roster spot and role in 2006.
WR Michael Clayton – Although he’s coming off a disappointing sophomore season in which he caught just 32 passes for 372 yards and zero touchdowns, Clayton will be back this season. His salary cap value is just $2.177 million in 2006, and the Bucs would take a major cap hit by trading or releasing Clayton. However, a woeful performance like the one he turned in last season could buy Clayton a one-way ticket out of Tampa Bay in 2007.
CB Ronde Barber – Tampa Bay could clear out millions worth of cap room by trading or releasing Barber, but that move wouldn’t make much sense seeing as he was one of only three Bucs players to make the Pro Bowl in 2005. Barber, who turns 31 in April, is scheduled to have a cap value of $5.364 million in 2006, which is scheduled to be the final year of his contract with the Bucs. Barber, who is considered a team leader, is considered a candidate for a contract extension this offseason, and such a move would free up some much-needed cap room for the Bucs.
CB Brian Kelly – Although he’s scheduled to receive a $400,000 roster bonus on Mar. 3, Kelly probably isn’t going anywhere. Kelly, who helped Tampa Bay’s defense finish the 2005 season ranked No. 1 overall by notching four interceptions and 16 passes defensed, will have a cap charge of $3.636 million in 2006. He’s under contract with the Bucs through 2008. The only thing that could keep Kelly from being on Tampa Bay’s roster in 2006 is a holdout. Some have speculated that Kelly would want a new deal should Barber be rewarded with one. Bucs general manager Bruce Allen doesn’t deal with holdouts, evidenced by the end result of former Bucs WR Keenan McCardell’s holdout in 2004.
WR Joey Galloway – Bucs head coach Jon Gruden built his offense around Williams and WR Joey Galloway last year, and there’s no way the team is going to part ways with their most explosive weapon in the passing game. Galloway hauled in a team-leading 83 passes for 1,287 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2005. His cap value escalates to $2.595 million, and he’s due a $250,000 roster bonus on Mar. 3. However, Galloway proved last year that he’s worth every penny the Bucs are paying him when he’s healthy.
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