FAB 3. Where The Bucs Have Spent Their Money
In sticking with the front office and financial theme of this week’s SR’s Fab 5 column, let’s take a look at where Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg have spent the team’s salary cap room. According to OverTheCap.com, the Bucs have spent $97,143,102 on defense, $96,944,687 on offense and $6,960,000 on special teams this year.
Let’s take a look at the highest-paid Buccaneers heading into the 2018 season from a salary cap value standpoint.
TOP 12 BUCS CAP VALUES IN 2018
WR Mike Evans – $18.258 million cap value
DT Gerald McCoy – $12.75 million cap value
DE Jason Pierre-Paul – $12.5 million cap value
C Ryan Jensen – $12 million cap value
WR DeSean Jackson – $11 million cap value
LB Lavonte David – $8.75 million cap value
QB Jameis Winston – $8.066 million cap value
CB Brent Grimes – $8 million cap value
TE Cameron Brate – $7 million cap value
DE Vinny Curry – $6.5 million cap value
DE William Gholston – $6.5 million cap value
DT Beau Allen – $5 million cap value
This list consists of five offensive players totaling $56.324 million in cap value and seven defensive players totaling $53.5 million in cap value. Jensen is the league’s top-paid center at $10.5 million average per year. At $16.5 million per year on average, Evans is the second-highest paid wide receiver in the NFL behind Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown ($17 million avg.)
With an average of $13.6 million per year, McCoy is the NFL’s fifth-highest paid 4-3 defensive tackle, and he’s ranked as the eighth-highest paid interior defensive lineman in the NFL, accounting for 3-4 defensive tackles, too. Pierre-Paul is the fourth-highest paid 4-3 defensive end at $15 million per year, and the eighth-ranked edge rusher in the league when factoring in pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebackers.
Now let’s take a look at some of the highest-paid Buccaneers that have something to prove this year.
7 BUCS THAT BETTER EARN IT
1. WR Mike Evans – $18,258,000
Evans is the second-highest paid receiver in the NFL and needs to play like it with another dominant 12-touchdown season and his second trip to the Pro Bowl.
2. DT Gerald McCoy – $12,750,000
McCoy’s sack numbers have fallen in each of the last three years. Now at age 30, he has to produce more than six sacks to justify such a rich payday.
3. WR DeSean Jackson – $11,000,000
Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled to do what Jackson does best, which is connect on deep passes and score long touchdowns. That needs to change.
4. DE Will Gholston – $6,500,000
Gholston is the Bucs’ third-highest paid D-lineman, and will likely be a backup to Vinny Curry this year. That’s an awful lot of money for a run-stuffing reserve.
5. CB Vernon Hargreaves – $3,866,633
Hargreaves was the 11th pick in the 2016 draft and needs to prove he’s a starter, in addition to earning every penny of his rookie contract, which is fully guaranteed.
6. K Chandler Catanzaro – $3,000,000
The Bucs have had trouble finding a reliable kicker for nearly a decade and spent a ton of money on Catanzaro, who must prove he’s worth the big investment.
7. SS Chris Conte – $2,875,000
Conte makes twice as much as Justin Evans, who is a better safety. He needs to step up his game, stay healthy and make more plays in the secondary.
Are some of those players overpaid? Well, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum and find some of the best values in Tampa Bay this season.
7 BUCS’ BEST VALUES
1. RT Demar Dotson – $4,615,625 cap value
Less than $5 million for a veteran right tackle who has been a starter for nearly a decade – are you kidding? Dotson has employed a terrible agent for years.
2. LT Donovan Smith – $1,931,000 cap value
Say what you want about Smith, but he hasn’t missed a start in three years and is one of the top 15 left tackles in the league – and a bargain at less than $2 million.
3. RB Peyton Barber – $630,000 cap value
Barber will start the season at running back and split time with rookie Ronald Jones, a second-round pick who will make twice ($1,285,805) what Barber will earn.
4. WR Chris Godwin – $779,541 cap value
Godwin is a tremendous value as a starting-caliber receiver making less than $1 million per season. In fact, Godwin will move up on this list in the next two years.
5T. RG Caleb Benenoch – $693,269 cap value
5T. RG Alex Cappa – $678,426 cap value
One of these two young linemen – Benenoch or Cappa – will wind up as the starting right guard this year and will be making less than $1 million. Both are bargains.
7. LB Kendell Beckwith – $754,572 cap value
Beckwith showed his value as a rookie last year, starting at both SAM and MIKE linebacker positions. He’ll be on a cheap rookie contract for the next three years.
Of course players like middle linebacker Kwon Alexander ($2,019,546) and left guard Ali Marpet ($1,200,687) could easily make the Bucs’ Best Values list, but if their contract extensions come to fruition this month as expected, Alexander and Marpet will wind up in the top 5 highest-paid Buccaneers list instead.