SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. We’ve written a lot about new Buccaneers free safety Dashon Goldson this week, and if you are looking for more analysis on this acquisition by the Buccaneers I’ll have that at the end of this edition of SR’s Fab 5. If you didn’t read my PR Analysis piece on how Goldson fits in with the Buccaneers, I’ll redirect you here.
I’ll also note that good friend and colleague, Pat Yasinskas, has a great breakdown on Goldson’s contract on his NFC South Blog for ESPN.com. You can read that by clicking here.
If you are looking for my insight and analysis on why defensive end Michael Bennett left the Buccaneers, you’ll find it here and I’ll refrain from repeating myself in this SR’s Fab 5.
Late Friday evening, PewterReport.com learned from a source with inside knowledge that the the trade for Jets cornerback Darelle Revis could happen sooner rather than later. The source told PewterReport.com that the Bucs, despite the backlash of fans wondering what is going on free agency-wise, in fact have a plan, and that No. 24 is a big part of it. The source didn’t divulge specifics but said, “There is so much smoke my eyes are burning,” a reference to the cliché, where there is smoke there is fire. The source did say that even if it doesn’t happen on Saturday when Revis is owed a $1 million roster bonus that the talks and details could be worked out at the owners meetings that begin Sunday.
Earlier in the week, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that it’s all about compensation right now, and he was told the parameters of the financial terms of Revis’ new contract have been worked out. The Jets want more – specifically Tampa Bay’s 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft – than the Bucs are willing to give. The deal will either happen or not happen due to compensation.
So let’s dive into some uncharted territory with regards to the Buccaneers, shall we?
Because the Buccaneers have not spent a ton of money in free agency over the past couple offseasons and have begun to draft better in recent years, the team had a plethora of salary cap room entering free agency – over $30 million in fact. As a result, the Bucs only have 18 players out of the 67 on their current roster that make $1 million or more. That number could be more, depending on how much new linebacker Jonathan Casillas and wide receiver Kevin Olgetree were signed for.
Here’s the current list of millionaire Buccaneers:
Highest Paid Bucs In Base Salary (Unless Otherwise Noted)1. FS Dashon Goldson – $9,000,000 (includes a $4.5 million roster bonus)2. QB Josh Freeman – $8,430,000 (includes a $3.15 million roster bonus)3. DT Gerald McCoy – $8,321,250 4. RG Davin Joseph – $6,000,000 5. LT Donald Penn – $6,000,000 6. C Jeremy Zuttah – $4,125,000 (includes a $500,000 roster bonus)7. P Michael Koenen – $3,250,000 8. K Connor Barth – $2,300,000 9. RT Demar Dotson – $2,000,000 10. QB Dan Orlovsky – $1,500,000 11. C-G Ted Larsen $1,323,000 12. DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim $1,320,00013. LB Adam Hayward – $1,257,000 14. RB LeGarrette Blount – $1,250,000 15. SS Cody Grimm $1,200,000 16. SS Mark Barron $1,047,568 17. DE Adrian Clayborn $1,121,378 18. FB Erik Lorig $1,000,000 19. DT Gary Gibson $1,000,000
What’s interesting to note is that the Bucs only have nine players that will make over $2 million in 2013. That allows the team the salary cap room to make a move like trade for New York cornerback Darrelle Revis – a deal that may go down on Friday night.
Goldson, the team’s most recent big money addition, is currently the highest-paid Buccaneer in 2013. If you are wondering where Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks are after signing multi-year deals for multi-millions in 2012, they restructured their contracts last December to help Tampa Bay’s 2013 salary cap situation.
Jackson signed a five-year, $55.5-million contract, but had his $13 million salary reallocated into the back end of his deal and will now make $840,000 in base salary in 2013. His salary will rise to $10 million in 2014.
Nicks was scheduled to make $7 million in 2013 thanks to a five-year, $47.5-million contract he signed last offseason. Nicks’ 2013 salary was reallocated like Jackson’s was, and he will now earn $715,000 Nicks this season.
Speaking of Tampa Bay’s starting offensive linemen, their salaries see a dramatic increase in 2014. While Zuttah’s 2014 earnings will dip slightly from 2013 where he will make $4.125 million ($3.675 million in base salary in addition to a $500,000 roster bonus), and Joseph sees no increase from his $6 million salary in 2014, Penn’s salary escalates from $6 million to $7.4 million. However, the biggest increase occurs with Nicks, who is making only $715,000 in 2013 due to a contract restructure, but sees his 2014 base salary climb to $7 million.
In just those four positions alone, that’s an increase of $8.125 million, and those four Buccaneers starting offensive linemen are scheduled to make $24.4 million in base salaries in 2014. And that’s not even including the salary of a right tackle, which figures to be between $600,000 to $3 million in 2014 depending on whether it’s a rookie starting or if it’s Dotson getting re-signed.
With the 2014 salary cap not set to increase much more than this year’s amount of $123 million, Tampa Bay will have approximately one-fifth of its total cap number tied up in the offensive line. That’s something to keep in mind and something that general manager Mark Dominik is undoubtedly thinking about in 2014 as he is spending money in 2013.
FAB 2. In the spirit of free agency, let’s continue talking about salaries. Every team has players that over-perform regarding their contract, and the Buccaneers are no different. With two of the team’s best players being rookies Lavonte David, who was Pewter Report’s 2012 Bucs MVP, and Doug Martin, who was Pewter Report’s 2012 Offensive MVP, it’s no surprise that some of the team’s best talent comes on the cheap.
Of course that’s the way NFL teams love it. Rookies come cheap, especially thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which has a rookie salary cap.
Tampa Bay’s All-Underpaid Team consists of some pretty talented players that actually out-perform some of the backup players within their own personnel units, such as starter Mike Williams, who is scheduled to earn $630,000 in the final year of his rookie contract in 2013, while backup Tiquan Underwood will make $715,000 because he’s been in the league a season longer.
Here are the members of Tampa Bay’s All-Underpaid Team, according to Pewter Report:
1. WR Mike Williams – $630,000 base salary in 2013In three seasons, Williams has caught 193 passes for 2,731 yards and 23 touchdowns. He has posted two seasons with nearly 1,000 yards receiving, including a franchise-record 11 touchdowns in 2010 as a
rookie. Williams deserves a multi-million dollar extension before he hits the free agent market in 2014.
2. LB Lavonte David – $547,806 base salary in 2013 David made an instant impact as a rookie, leading the team in tackles with 139 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, two sacks and one interception last year. The second-round pick will be making less than $1 million for the next couple of seasons in Tampa Bay and will be quite a bargain.
3. RB Doug Martin – $698,524 base salary in 2013Martin rushed for a Bucs’ rookie record 1,454 yards and a franchise-record 11 touchdowns last season. He also caught 49 passes for 472 yards and one score. Martin has already made the Pro Bowl, and will be a steal financially for Tampa Bay for years to come.
4. LB Mason Foster – $628,124 base salary in 2013Foster has his detractors, but at less than three quarters of a million dollars, he’s a bargain for a starting NFL middle linebacker. Foster has 189 tackles in his Tampa Bay career, and has made a handful of splash plays over his two-year NFL career, including four sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
5. DE Da’Quan Bowers – $725,512 base salary in 2013 Bucs general manager Mark Dominik believes that Bowers, a second-round pick in 2011, can start at left defensive end and replace free agent Michael Bennett. As a backup, Bowers has recorded 4.5 sacks in 26 games. As a starting pass rusher in the NFL, Bowers comes cheap with less than three quarters of a million dollars.
Every NFL team has both underpaid players and overpaid players. While the Bucs have done a good job of ridding the roster of high-priced, less-producing talent in recent years, a few of those types of players remain.
Here are the members of Tampa Bay’s All-Overpaid Team, according to Pewter Report:
1. CB Eric Wright – $7,750,000 base salary in 2013Wright was suspended four games due to PED (performance-enhancing drug) use, missed a couple of others due to an Achilles injury and only picked off one pass and forced one fumble. Wright didn’t come close to earning his paycheck last year and the Bucs want to cut him.
2. SS Cody Grimm – $1,200,000 base salary in 2013Grimm’s star has fallen at One Buccaneer Place. Once a starter, Grimm is now a third-string safety and has been relegated to special teams. He’s not a favorite of the coaching staff, so don’t be surprised if Grimm is released prior to training camp if the team needs some more salary cap space.
3. RB LeGarrette Blount – $1,250,000 base salary in 2013Blount was essentially re-signed to be traded, but if he sticks, he will make twice as much money as starter Doug Martin will. Blount was phased out of Tampa Bay’s offense last year, so if there are no takers on the trade market, the Bucs may end up cutting him.
4. C-G Ted Larsen – $1,323,000 base salary in 2013Larsen is a decent backup that can play center or guard, and is better as a reserve than a starter. Because he can play multiple positions, Larsen isn’t extremely overpaid. However, there is a chance that he can end up making more money than the team’s starting right tackle in 2014 if he’s still on the roster.
Linebacker Quincy Black originally made this list due to his $5.5 million base salary before he was released on Thursday. Unfortunately, Black’s NFL future is in jeopardy as he recovers from serious nerve damage, but even when healthy he was not worth $5.5 million. That would have made him the sixth-highest paid Buccaneer on the team. Black typically comes off the field in nickel and dime defensive packages, and that’s an awful lot of money for a part-time player.
FAB 3. A close look at Tampa Bay’s roster also shows the Bucs currently only have 40 players under contract in 2014. Of those players, cornerback Eric Wright will likely be cap casualty this year. Wright has not come close to earning his $7.75 million salary, and lost his grievance against the Buccaneers over whether his 2013 salary was guaranteed or not. Either Michael Koenen or Chas Henry won’t be around next year, as Tampa Bay won’t keep two punters.
Defensive backs like Sean Baker, Nick Saenz and James Rogers are likely training camp competition and aren’t locks to make the team in 2013 – let alone be around in 2014. The same could be said of quarterback Adam Weber, tight ends Drake Dunsmore and Danny Noble, wide receiver David Douglas, offensive linemen Mike Remmers and Desmond Wynn, defensive linemen Ernest Owusu, Richard Clebert and Matt Masifilo and linebacker Joe Holland. That’s 13 more players out of the 40, in addition to Wright and either Koenen or Henry, that won’t be under contract in Tampa Bay in 2014.
So that means there are 25 players on the current active roster that have a real, legitimate chance to be under contract in 2014. The Bucs will likely sign five-seven more free agents to long-term contracts, and there is a chance that the eight players the Bucs will draft in 2013 will stick.
That means the Bucs will enter the 2013 season with about 38 players realistically under contract next year unless the Bucs get to work on some contract extensions. Remember that it takes 53 to actually field a team.
Tampa Bay has a whopping 24 players that are in a contract year in 2013. Here’s the list:
Contract Year BuccaneersQB Josh FreemanQB Dan OrlovskyRB LeGarrette Blount RB D.J. WareFB Erik LorigWR Mike WilliamsWR Tiquan UnderwoodWR Chris OwusuTE Nate Byham TE Zach MillerOT Demar DotsonG-T Jamon MeredithG Roger AllenC Ted LarsenOT Derek HardmanG-C Cody Wallace DT Gary GibsonDT Corvey IrvinDE Aaron MorganDE Markus WhiteLB Adam HaywardLB Dekoda WatsonCB Myron LewisCB Danny GorrerSS Cody Grimm
To say that general manager Mark Dominik and coordinator of football administration Mike Greenberg, who serves as the team’s capologist, have a lot of work to do to between now and the start of the 2014 season.
FAB 4. In a division that features a plethora of gifted tight ends, such as Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and David Thomas, in addition to Carolina’s Greg Olsen, the Bucs need stellar play from the safety position. The addition of free agent free safety Dashon Goldson gives the Bucs another solid defender in coverage that can match up well against the NFC South’s tight ends.
Here’s a look at how those tight ends fared against Tampa Bay in 2012:
Atlanta TE Tony Gonzalez10 catches for 103 yards
Carolina TE Greg OlsenEight catches for 98 yards
New Orleans TE Jimmy Graham (one game)Five catches for 69 yards
New Orleans TE David ThomasFour catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns
Because Goldson and Mark Barron have similar builds and skills, head coach Greg Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan can interchange the two between the free safety and strong safety spots and mix things up in coverage. Both Goldson and Barron are big, fast and physical enough to defend the seams of Tampa Bay’s defense.
FAB 5. Here are some things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:
• In 2013, the Buccaneers won’t have any linebackers or wide receivers making a base salary of $1 million or more. Those two units, along with the tight end corps, are the cheapest in Tampa Bay. What about Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who signed a five-year, $55.5 million deal in 2012? Jackson restructured his contract late last season to help the Bucs create some salary cap room, and reduced his 2013 base salary to $840,000. But that cheap salary is short-lived as Jackson’s base increases to $10 million in 2014.
• Bucs head coach Greg Schiano likes to blitz his safeties, and Dashon Goldson is a good fit in those schemes. Wit
h three career sacks, including two in 2010, Goldson is an above-average blitzer. The Bucs tried unsuccessfully to blitz its safeties last year, and only Barber produced a sack with Mark Barron and Ahmad Black going sack-less during their blitz attempts.
• Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will be the most expensive player in Tampa Bay next year. He’s set to earn a base salary of $10,295,000 in what will be the final year of his contract. With a $10 million base salary coming his way next year, Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson is currently scheduled to be the team’s second-highest paid Buccaneer in 2014. Unless of course the Bucs re-sign quarterback Josh Freeman or trade for Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and extend his contract.
• If you are a fan of Tampa Bay defensive back Ronde Barber and missed my last SR’s Fab 5, here’s the link. It’s a must-read if you feel that Barber, who could be re-signed as a cornerback or a safety in 2013, should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Check it out, and keep checking out PewterReport.com as free agency rolls on.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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