During his press conference on Monday, Bucs GM Jason Licht noted that he still had opportunities to bring more free agents into the fold. Licht also made it clear that he did not view the salary cap as an obstacle to the team being able to execute their plans.
“We are extremely happy with the work that we did last week,” Licht said. “But it’s another week this week. Chris [Godwin] talks about taking it day by day. But during free agency sometimes it’s hour-by-hour, or minute-by-minute. We are happy right now. We’re going to continue to try to add some pieces here and continue talks with our players and with some other players and see what we can do.”
Licht has already been active in free agency, re-signing guard Aaron Stinnie, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, center Ryan Jensen and cornerback Carlton Davis. Then Licht locked up wide receiver Chris Godwin to a long-term contract to lower the veteran’s 2022 cap hit. Also, Licht made two big free agent signings, adding defensive back Logan Ryan and wide receiver Russell Gage. Finally, Licht’s most important move came by trading a fifth round pick for star guard Shaq Mason last week.
Even with all those additions, the Bucs aren’t done yet. Hardly any of the team’s current free agents have signed elsewhere over a week into free agency. In fact, only guard Alex Cappa, safety Jordan Whitehead and tight end O.J. Howard have departed for other teams. 17 Bucs free agents remain unsigned, including starting defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Will Gholston, tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul.
Bucs RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs are expected to pursue contracts with at least Gronkowski, Suh and Gholston. And on Monday, Licht said the team would “love to have Leonard [Fournette] back”. So how can the Bucs make those moves with limited cap space?
When asked about potentially extending Tom Brady’s contract to potentially free up space, Licht declined to reveal his exact plan. But he did mention the Bucs have multiple options to keep building their roster and stay under the cap.
“Yeah, we’ve got some work to do and we’ve got some plans,” Licht said. “There are several ways of going about it. But right now I don’t want to get into too much of what we are doing. But we’ve got several alternatives that we can do. We are confident that we will be able to get it done.”
The Bucs could open cap space by extending or restructuring the contract of Brady, tackle Donovan Smith and linebacker Lavonte David. The Bucs could also sign linebacker Devin White to a long-term contract that could lower his 2022 cap hit. But Pewter Report has previously learned that the team plans on exercising White’s 5th year option, so that move seems unlikely.
The Bucs have roughly $14-15 million of cap space currently after Chris Godwin’s long-term extension