• If Tampa Bay is hell-bent on getting middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, left guard Ali Marpet and left tackle Donovan Smith to sign contract extensions this summer and not use the franchise tag on Smith as I indicated the team might in Fab 2, director of football administration Mike Greenberg might have to do something he’s not comfortable doing. That is using signing bonuses with Alexander, Marpet and Smith to give those players a higher amount of cash in 2018 in that form rather than base salary or a roster bonus.
The beauty of using signing bonuses is that they can help cap-crunched teams dole out a larger amount of money to a player with only a portion of it affecting the current year’s cap. Let’s say Greenberg wanted to extend the contract of a player and give that Buccaneer a five-year, $25 million, including a $15 million signing bonus. If the base salary every year for five years was $2 million, that player would be receiving $17 million in the first year because of the signing bonus money.
But when it comes to salary cap value, the $15 million is prorated over the life of the contract, which comes to $3 million per year over five years. That means that the salary cap value for the player in the first year of the deal is just $5 million ($2 million base salary + $3 million in signing bonus proration) instead of $17 million.
Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The problem is that in years 2-5 instead of having a $2 million cap value for that player, the prorated signing bonus applies and the cap value every year is $5 million. That may not seem like a lot, but when the base salaries are in the tens of millions of dollars and the bonus money is also in that realm, prorated signing bonus money can really clog up a team’s salary cap. And if that player is cut after two years, the remaining prorated signing bonus money – in this case $9 million – accelerates and hits the cap in the form of dead salary cap space that can’t be used towards another player. That’s what got the Bucs in a lot of salary cap problems in the early 2000s under former general managers Rich McKay and Bruce Allen.
Instead, Greenberg typically guarantees the first year or second’s worth of base salaries, which are usually high dollar amounts, and may use a roster bonus to give the player some upfront cash for signing an extension because all of the roster bonus money is applied towards the current year’s salary cap and not prorated over the life of the deal. This methodology works well when teams like Tampa Bay have plenty of salary cap space each year due to a young roster with several starters playing on cheap rookie contracts.
It also works in the team’s favor if a player who signed a long-term extension doesn’t perform up to the level of the contract. The Bucs can then typically cut that player after a year or two without any dead salary cap hit. No team likes to essentially still pay for a player that is no longer on the roster by having to absorb their dead salary cap space. Take a look at DeSean Jackson’s three-year, $33.5 million contract on Spotrac.com with Tampa Bay that featured $20 million in guaranteed money.
As cheap rookie deals expire and star players get rewarded with lucrative extensions it makes Greenberg’s practice of using big, guaranteed base salaries and roster bonus money more difficult because it requires the cap space to absorb a huge cap number like the $18,258,000 Mike Evans is playing under this season. There might come a time where Greenberg will have to use the signing bonus more often and at a much higher money as Tampa Bay’s cap situation becomes tighter and tighter over the years, especially if quarterback Jameis Winston gets a contract extension and will be paid over $20 million per year.
Take a look at Ryan Jensen’s four-year, $42 million contract featuring $22 million worth of guaranteed money on Spotrac.com and notice how the Bucs can part ways with Jensen (not that they would) after 2019 with zero dead cap charge because the first $12 million of his base salary is guaranteed in addition to the $10 million roster bonus that Jensen received earlier this year.
• Bucs training camp is underway and you can listen to the analysis of the Pewter Reporters in each episode the Pewter Nation Podcasts. PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook and Trevor Sikkema and myself discussed the first week of Bucs camp in Episode 84: Unfortunate Injuries Early In Camp that was packed with some analysis and some very funny moments, too. We’ll be taping a new Pewter Nation Podcast on Friday after practice, so be sure to listen to that on your way home from work or during the weekend.
If you missed the first Pewter Nation Podcast of training camp where we discussed Jameis Winston’s press conference, his poor play to start camp, and other aspects of Tampa Bay’s first practice you can click here to listen to Episode 83: Camp Is Open, Jameis Speaks.
• Bucs training camp is always a time where we see our Twitter following grow. We’ve gained over 200 new Twitter followers during the first week of camp. Make sure you are following PewterReport.com on Twitter so you don’t miss out on some cool practice videos and important news and injury updates. Become one of the 29,200 Twitter followers of @PewterReport prior to Tampa Bay’s 2018 training camp. If you want updates from Bucs press conferences, training camp practices and new PewterReport.com story notifications be sure to follow us on Twitter and help us grow to 30,000. To follow @PewterReport on Twitter please click here, and to follow us on Facebook please click here.
• Despite the fact that Brentson Buckner coached both a 3-4 and a 4-3 front in Arizona, and the fact that defensive coordinator Mike Smith used both fronts in Tampa Bay last year, the Bucs haven’t shown the first 3-4 look in training camp thus far. That’s because Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht invested heavily in the defensive line this offseason, signing defensive tackles Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein and defensive end Vinny Curry in free agency, drafting defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round and trading for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
News Channel 8 Sports Team: Annie Sabo, Dan Lucas and Gabrielle Shirley
With tens of millions of dollars invested in all of those defensive linemen, in addition to the $12.6 million that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy makes, the Bucs would be wise to get as many of those big investments on the field at the same time. Because of the plethora of talented defensive linemen the Bucs have imported this offseason there is simply no need to run a 3-4 scheme this year, which is why the team hasn’t practiced that look.
PewterReport.com’s regularly scheduled appearances on 620 WDAE begin today with Mark Cook joining J.P. Peterson on-air at 4:30 p.m. Here is the full schedule of PewterReport.com appearances during Bucs camp:
Friday August 3 – Trevor Sikkema w/JP (4:30pm)
Monday August 6 – Mark Cook w/Ronnie & TKras (8:15am)
Friday August 10 – Scott Reynolds w/JP (4:30pm)
Monday August 13 – Trevor Sikkema w/Ronnie & TKras (8:15am)
Friday August 17 – Mark Cook w/JP (4:30pm)
Monday August 20 – Scott Reynolds w/Ronnie & TKras (8:15am)
Friday August 24 – Trevor Sikkema w/JP (4:30pm)
Monday August 27 – Mark Cook w/Ronnie & TKras (8:15am)
Friday August 31 – Scott Reynolds w/JP (4:30pm)
Tuesday September 4 – Trevor Sikkema w/Ronnie & TKras (8:15am)
• Kudos to the Glazers for extending the contract of general manager Jason Licht by one year. Licht is now under contract through the 2019 season, while head coach Dirk Koetter, whom Licht hired, is under contract through 2020. Licht is coming off his best offseason in Tampa Bay by signing veteran center Ryan Jensen, and bolstering the defensive line in free agency, the draft and with the trade for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
With contract extensions for wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Cameron Brate done in the offseason and extensions for middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, left guard Ali Marpet and possibly left tackle Donovan Smith coming soon, it’s time for the Glazers to recognize that the Bucs roster is in way better shape now than it was in 2014 when Licht took over as general manager. Like every G.M., Licht has made his share of mistakes when it comes to the draft, free agency and contract extensions, but he has had far more hits than misses.
Bucs DT Beau Allen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The 2018 Buccaneers have a playoff-ready roster. Now it comes down to coaching, play-calling and execution. But Licht has done his job by stocking the roster with talent and should be rewarded with a long-term contract extension in the 2019 offseason regardless of whether the Bucs actually get to double-digit wins and make the playoffs this year or not.
• If you haven’t been reading the Bucs Training Camp Diary series on PewterReport.com with rookie running back Ronald Jones and veteran defensive tackle Beau Allen you have really been missing out. Jones has been sharing what it’s like to make the adjustment from college football to the NFL and from living on the West Coast to moving three time zones away and now living on the East Coast. Allen has detailed what it’s like to be playing with so many new faces along the defensive line and for a new defensive line coach in Brentson Buckner – and doing so with a big sense of humor.
• And finally, I wanted to introduce you to StretchPros, a new PewterReport.com advertising partner. StretchPros is a South Tampa-based business owned by Bucs fan Chip Orr that provides professional stretching to everyone from amateur and professional athletes to weekend warriors and middle-aged people like myself, who aren’t as limber and flexible as they used to be.
I’ve recently had an introductory StretchPros session and will become a member after my schedule relaxes at the conclusion of Bucs training camp. After a StretchPros dynamic performance stretching session, I felt more flexible and I also felt like I had just worked out as my muscles had that “good burn” feeling that you get after lifting weights. I felt more limber and stronger for days after just one session.
You may have heard from last year’s Pewter Nation Podcasts that I revealed that I tore my right hamstring last summer simply by stretching the wrong way. How lame is that, right? My hamstring hurt for a full three months before it healed and I had to get an MRI and do weeks of physical therapy. That injury cost me a small fortune, in addition to the pain I felt every time I had to drive and press the gas pedal for months. Well, that injury could have been avoided if I had known about StretchPros and used them to stretch me out and get me ready to resume my training for 5k races.
If you sit at a desk like me or spend hours in a car each day driving, your hips and hamstrings lose flexibility and strength just from sitting all the time. Let StretchPros help you gain strength and limber up those muscles and tendons, as well as working your shoulders and upper body, too. Visit the StretchPros.net website to learn more and schedule your introductory stretching session today and see the results for yourself. I wouldn’t have StretchPros as an advertising partner on PewterReport.com if I didn’t believe in their service and know that there are plenty of folks like me that could use improved flexibility and injury prevention. StretchPros is located at 609 S. Armenia Avenue in Tampa. Give them a call today (813) 981-0396 and tell them PewterReport.com sent you.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: email@example.com
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