The Bucs are going to get some relief when it comes to re-signing their coveted free agents in 2022. According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, the NFL and NFL Player Association have agreed to a salary cap ceiling of $208.2 million for next season.
As Graziano reports, that is a 14 percent increase from this year, which stands at $182.5 million.
This offseason, Tampa Bay made the incredible accomplishment of returning all 22 starters from their Super Bowl-winning team. More miraculous was that the Bucs were operating with an $182.5 salary cap, a drop from $198.2 million the year before. This was due to the pandemic severely cutting down on revenue throughout the league, particularly in ticket sales.
Somehow, the Bucs were still able to re-sign the likes of Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown while giving the franchise tag to Chris Godwin and extending Tom Brady.
The Bucs will be in a similar situation after this season with many significant contracts coming off the books. This includes Gronkowski, Godwin, Brown, Fournette and Suh again, and Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa, Ronald Jones II, Carlton Davis, O.J. Howard and Jason Pierre-Paul.
It won’t be an easy task, but getting a bump up all the way to $208.2 million sure does help. General manager Jason Licht, director of football research Jacqueline Davidson and director of football operations Mike Greenberg will have more room to work with.
If revenue exceeds the allotted number, $17 million will be given back to player benefits this season. Benefits were cancelled last July because of the pandemic, with the expectation they would be paid back in 2023. But if it gets high enough there will be a quicker payment.
The NFL was at a pace increasing the salary by $10 million each year before COVID hit. The increase in salary doesn’t get player compensation back on track, but it is a big step in that direction.