The NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to many amendments to the Collective Bargaining Agreement on Friday night to allow the start of 2020 training camps to proceed with COVID-19 testing procedures among them. But the league and the players association also agreed to a very important amendment that affects all teams in 2020 and 2021.

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a salary cap floor of $175 million in 2021 with the league expecting to take major losses in stadium revenue (ticket sales, merchandise sales, concession sales and parking) due to reduced capacity at most NFL stadiums this fall. Some NFL teams, such as the New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles currently have said that no fans will be in attendance for their home games due to local health regulations.

Bucs GM Jason Licht

Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

If losses incurred during the 2020 season aren’t as bad as expected the league and the players association can agree to raise the 2021 salary cap, but it won’t go below $175 million next year.

As it stands right now, the Bucs had just $4,873,799 million in salary cap room before signing the team’s draft class, but were able to fit all of those signings under the cap because half of those players’ salaries in 2020 are below the Top 51 salaries and don’t count against the $198.2 million salary cap until September when roster cut-downs occur.

Let’s take a look at where the Bucs stand with their salary cap compliance in 2021 with the league cap floor of $175 million.

As previously reported by PewterReport.com, the Bucs have just 45 players under contract for next season, and have already committed $151,882,587 to those players. That figure comes from OverTheCap.com.

That would leave $23,117,413 left to not only sign draft picks in 2021, but also add free agents and re-sign some of the team’s pending free agents for 2021. Of course more money can be created by releasing players and/or restructuring the contracts of high-priced veterans and/or having high-priced veterans take pay cuts.

Here is a list of the Top 10 highest paid Buccaneers under contract in 2021:

QB Tom Brady – $25,000,000
WR Mike Evans – $13,450,000
LT Donovan Smith – $14,250,000
OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – $12,500,000
LG Ali Marpet – $10,650,000
C Ryan Jensen – $10,000,000
ILB Devin White – $8,170,223
TE Cameron Brate – $6,500,000
DE Will Gholston – $5,500,000
DT Vita Vea – $4,716,803

The contracts for Smith, Jensen, Brate and Gholston total $35,450,000 and the good news is that they could be released without any dead salary cap room for Tampa Bay if the team wanted to go that route to create more cap room in 2021. But in doing so, the Bucs would then have to find a new starting left tackle, a new starting center and a starting defensive end, in addition to trying to re-sign the likes of outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, wide receiver Chris Godwin, outside linebacker Lavonte David and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Keep in mind that the Bucs’ $151,882,587 cap figure in 2021 does not include several important starters, such as Barrett, David, Godwin, Gronkowski and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, in addition to some key reserves, such as offensive linemen Joe Haeg and Josh Wells, defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, tight end Antony Auclair, linebacker Kevin Minter, cornerback and special teams ace Ryan Smith, backup quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin and safeties Andrew Adams and Justin Evans.

Those players are not under contract in 2021.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

Knowing what the salary cap floor will be in 2021 allows general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg the ability to work on contract extensions for players like David and Godwin for this year to keep them off the free agent market in 2021, as well as making some considerations for Barrett, the team’s franchise player, and perhaps Gronkowski if he wants to play another season next year.

Gronkowski retired during the 2019 and decided he wanted to play in 2020 when the Bucs signed quarterback Tom Brady in free agency. Once he made his intentions known, Licht traded with New England for his rights. The 31-year old Gronkowski has one year left on his contract that will pay him $9.25 million.

Godwin is scheduled to earn $2,331,041 this year, while David is slated to make $10.75 million in 2020. David could take a reduced salary, perhaps down to $8.75 million this year to help Licht and Greenberg create some more cap room in 2020, in exchange for more guaranteed money in the future in his contract extension to make up for that $2 million in rearranged money.

While the Bucs are better situated for the 2021 salary cap than other teams with their $23,117,413 in cap space, they will have to make some moves to squeeze in players like Godwin, who fair market value is between $14.5 million and $15 million per season; and David, whose fair market value is between $13.5 million and $14.25 million per season.

Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Additionally, Licht and Greenberg will be working on a contract extension for Barrett to keep him out of free agency next March. But because the deadline for contract extensions has passed for players that have the franchise tag designation, Barrett and the Bucs can’t sign an extension until the offseason.

Barrett recently signed his franchise tag tender of $15.828 million, which was the franchise tag amount or linebackers, but also filed a grievance with the league, suggesting he should have been tagged at the defensive end amount of $17.788 million.

Baltimore’s Matt Judon, who is an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but played more snaps as a 4-3 defensive end, filed a similar grievance with the league and settled for the median amount of $16.808 million. Expect the same result for Barrett, which would be an increase of nearly $1 million to his pay in 2020, followed by a salary that averages around $17 million per year beginning in 2021 should he and Tampa Bay agree on a contract extension in the offseason.

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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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Dbuc63
1 year ago

Great info Scott. NFL did a great job considering. Fingers crossed we can have a full season and enjoy watching the Bucs play home for the Superbowl!

awwdembucs
1 year ago

I’m thinking we will lose some good players.

Dman
1 year ago

Why would you even consider cutting money from Lavonte? Best Bucs player and every-down player for the past 10 years, still Pro Bowl level performer. Just a bad idea, especially with Devin White making about that same amount. Let’s see if Gronkowski plays 12 or 14 games and how productive he is before we pencil him in for 2021. Goldson and Brate will be gone so that will free up $12m. If Barrett produces on a level like last season his price will go up and chances are he’ll win his grievance. Donavan Smith needs to decide if he’s going… Read more »

Pit of misery
1 year ago

David probably won’t be here. He’s already 31 isn’t he? Sad but true…

BigSombrero
1 year ago

It’s all-in time for 2020. Next year’s could be far different.

If I had to pick two key 2021 free agent players to keep, it would be David and Barrett. Godwin could be replaced with Tyler Johnson. Suh and Gronk are at the end of their careers and the production might not match up with the pay.

Based on my track record, the Bucs will likely do the opposite and keep Godwin and Gronk, while letting David, Barrett, and Suh walk.

BigSombrero
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Hmmm…are the thumbs down a sign that you disagree or a sign that you hate my face? Lol!

Im guessing it’s likely both, but I digress.

If I wanted a response about football on this football site, I should call Trump a pussy with bonespurs. Or I could tell people on here who think Covid-19 is a Chinese hoax created by democrats to infiltrate the deep state of Qanon patriots that they are total imbeciles.

Either way, good times.

Horse
1 year ago

Maybe some of the high paying players would be willing to give up 5% of their salary to help sign other players in 2021? This is ridiculous with some of these top players being paid this much! Even without the virus issue, we knew this is going to come to a head starting in 2021.

bucballer
1 year ago

Why r we able to comment on some posts and yet others don’t have an up or down thumbs? Is this a form of censorship? Just wondering…