The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently restructured the contract of running back Michael Pittman, who will start serving a three-game suspension on Sunday, September 5.
Pittman’s reworked contract, which was approved by the National Football League on August 7, was structured to reduce his 2004 base salary from $1.5 million to $793,5000 while taking part of his base salary and putting it in the form of likely-to-be-earned incentives. Pittman can earn as much as $308,000 in incentives this year for rushing yards and playing time.
The restructured contract also gives Pittman the opportunity to earn $905,000 in not-likely-to-be-earned incentives this year. PewterReport.com doesn’t know the extent of the not-likely-to-be-earned incentives, but they typically involve making the Pro Bowl, individual ranking among league rushers and things of that nature.
Pittman’s cap values were reduced from $1.85 million to $1.457 million (2004), $2.1 million to $1.992 million (2005) and $2.35 million to $1.842 million in 2006, which is the final year of his contract.
There’s no evidence to suggest Pittman received a signing bonus per terms of his restructured deal, but by reworking his contract, the Bucs created roughly $400,000 in cap room.
With wide receiver Keenan McCardell’s $3 million cap value not counting against Tampa Bay’s cap while he remains a holdout, the Bucs currently have about $4 million in cap room.
What is unclear is whether Pittman’s pay cut was related to a possible behavioral de-escalator clause in his contract due to his three-game suspension from the NFL over a domestic endangerment conviction, or whether it was simply the Bucs reducing Pittman’s contract to reflect his status as a reserve behind new starting running back Charlie Garner.
The NFL suspended Pittman without pay for Tampa Bay’s first three regular-season games of the 2004 season and fined him an additional two game checks for violating the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.
His suspension was handed down on June 22, which was nearly three months after he pleaded guilty to one felony count of endangerment in exchange for prosecutors in Arizona dropping charges of aggravated assault and aggravated domestic violence.
Those charges stemmed from a 2003 offseason domestic violence incident in which Pittman drove his Hummer into his wife’s Mercedes near the couple’s Arizona home. The couple’s 2-year-old son and babysitter were in the car when Pittman crashed into it, but no one was injured.
As a result of his guilty plea, Pittman, who turned 29 in August, received a 30-day jail sentence, three years of probation and a fine of $4,500. Pittman was, however, released from prison on Mar. 11 after serving just 14 days of the jail term because of good behavior.
In his first two seasons with the Bucs, Pittman has produced a total of 1,469 rushing yards and has averaged 3.7 yards per carry. His biggest contributions have come via the passing game where Pittman has hauled in 134 passes for 1,074 yards and two touchdowns over the last two seasons.
The highlight of Pittman’s career came in Super Bowl XXXVII when he rushed 29 times for 124 yards against the Oakland Raiders en route to winning a championship.
Pittman has been able to participate in Tampa Bay’s offseason activities, training camp and preseason games. He’s rushed eight times for 33 yards (4.1 avg.) and hauled in five passes for 22 yards in three exhibition games and will play in the Bucs’ preseason finale against the Houston Texans on Thursday night.
But league rules prohibit Pittman from participating in team practices, talking to coaches or setting foot inside One Buccaneer Place during his suspension. The Bucs will receive a roster exemption for Pittman, who will not count against the team’s 53-man roster during his suspension.
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