SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.

FAB 1. AS QUARTERBACK SALARIES RISE, BUCS’ WINSTON SET TO CASH IN
As PewterReport.com first reported weeks ago, the Buccaneers are going to explore contract extension talks this summer with Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2014. While Tampa Bay will likely declare to pick up Evans’ fifth-year option by the deadline in mid-May, the plan is to work on an extension with agent Deryk Gilmore and have a long-term extension in place by the start of the 2017 regular season as the team did last August with right tackle Demar Dotson and linebacker Lavonte David in August of 2015.

Depending on the length of the contract, Evans could be Tampa Bay’s first $100 million man, surpassing the six-year, $95.2 million deal that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy signed in general manager Jason Licht’s first year in 2014. If Evans doesn’t hit the $100 million mark this summer you can bet quarterback Jameis Winston will as early as 2018. That’s the first year Winston is eligible for a contract extension.

Here’s a breakdown of Winston’s rookie contract, which was $25,351,277 fully guaranteed over four years, including a $16,697,292 signing bonus:

2015: $435,000 salary – $4,174,323 signing bonus – $0 roster bonus – $4,609,323 cap value
2016: $525,000 salary – $4,174,323 signing bonus –  $1,062,331 roster bonus – $5,761,654 cap value
2017: $615,000 salary – $4,174,323 signing bonus – $2,124,662 roster bonus – $6,913,985 cap value
2018: $705,000 salary – $4,174,323 signing bonus – $3,186,992 roster bonus – $8,066,315 cap value

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Winston’s fifth-year option is projected to be north of $13 million in 2019 unless a long-term extension is worked out prior to 2018. Given what Winston has been able to accomplish in first two seasons in Tampa Bay with back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons, a Pro Bowl berth in 2015 and leading the Bucs to their first winning season since 2010, it’s a safe bet that the team’s franchise quarterback will be locked up for the long term prior to 2019.

While many might think that former Bucs backup quarterback Mike Glennon made out like a bandit in free agency, signing a three-year deal worth $45 million, including $18.5 million in guaranteed money, the real winner in free agency was Winston, who is sitting back and seeing lesser quarterbacks continue to drive the QB market up..

Contracts for former backups like Glennon and Brock Osweiler, who was foolishly signed by the Texans to a four-year deal worth $72 million – an average of $18 million per year – including $9.5 million in guaranteed money, only justify paying Winston north of $18 million.

“It’s generally a very positive sign about the economic health of the game,” said Greg Gaske, Winston’s agent. “The NFL has done very well as a sport, and it’s no surprise that the quarterback position is the most highly compensated position given the importance on the field for the success of any team. We’re not surprised when the top quarterbacks in the league – your Tom Bradys – receive record-setting contracts and receive new levels of compensation.

“But we have seen some players without that level of success rewarded quite handsomely. I don’t think it’s surprising for me. Again, it’s a reflection of the overall health of the sport and the importance of the position.”

In 2018 Winston could be set to cash in.

Top 15 Quarterback Salaries In 2017
1. Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck – $112.970 million total contract – $24.594 million avg. per year – $47 million guaranteed
2. New Orleans QB Drew Brees – $24.245 million total contract – $24.245 million avg. per year – $24,245 million guaranteed
3. Washington QB Kirk Cousins – $23.944 million total contract – $23.944 million – avg. per year – $23.944 million guaranteed
4. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco – $66.4 million total contract – $22,133,333 avg. per year – $44 million guaranteed
5. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers – $110 million total contract – $22 million avg. per year – $54 million guaranteed
6. Seattle QB Russell Wilson – $87.6 million total contract – $21.9 million avg. per year – $31.7 million guaranteed
7. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger – $87.4 million total contract – $21.85 avg. per year – $34.25 million guaranteed
8. Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer – $21 million total contract – $21 million avg. per year – $11.65 million guaranteed
9. New York Giants QB Eli Manning – $84 million total contract – $21 million avg. per year – $36.5 million guaranteed
10. San Diego QB Philip Rivers – $83.25 million total contract – $20,812,500 million avg. per year – $37.5 million guaranteed
11. Carolina QB Cam Newton – $103.8 million total contract – $20.76 million avg. per year – $41 million guaranteed
12. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan – $103.75 million total contract – $20.75 million avg. per year – $42 million guaranteed
13. New England QB Tom Brady – $41 million total contract – $20.5 million avg. per year – $28 million guaranteed
14. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill – $77 million total contract – $19.25 million avg. per year – $21.5 million guaranteed
15. Cleveland QB Brock Osweiler – $72 million total contract – $18 million avg. per year – $9.5 million guaranteed

Without a playoff win or at least a trip to the postseason, it would be difficult for Winston and his agent, Greg Gaske, to ask for a deal that would put Winston in the realm of Luck, Brees or Cousins range in the $24 million per year range. But a six-year, $120 million contract worth $20 million per season with over $40 million in guaranteed money would not be farfetched.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Saints QB Drew Brees – Photo by: Getty Images

That’s why this year is crucial for Winston and the Buccaneers. A playoff berth in 2017 could really escalate Winston’s bargaining power in 2018 if he and the team want to do a contract extension prior to his fourth season in the league.

And knowing that Winston’s salary cap value will be jumping from $8 million in 2018 to possibly $20 million means that the Bucs’ salary cap will have to be under a very watchful eye. There has been a reason why general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg haven’t gone wild with spending in free agency over the past two years since drafting Winston. They know their star quarterback is going to take up a big chunk of money down sometime between 2018-20 and they must leave room for a figure around $20 million for the future.

That’s a number the Bucs have never had to deal with before as the franchise has never signed a quarterback it has drafted to a contract extension. Not first-rounder Vinny Testaverde from the 1998 draft. Not Trent Dilfer from the 1994 draft. And not first-rounder Josh Freeman from the 2009 draft.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Bucs still have $29,849,768 in salary cap room and they will need to preserve some of that cap room for the next two years when the contracts for starting offensive linemen Kevin Pamphile (2018), Donovan Smith (2019) and Ali Marpet (2019) are up, in addition to the contract for starting middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (2019) – in addition to Winston and Evans.

The cap charges of Pamphile ($1,797,000), Smith ($886,714), Alexander ($727,546) and Marpet ($703,054) this year total just over $4.1 million. By 2019, each of those Buccaneers could be making double that amount by themselves. Winston will make around five times that amount by himself.

In order to maintain a roster with so many large salaries from contract extensions hitting at once, it’s crucial that Licht hit on as many draft picks as he can over the next two years. The more starting-caliber players on cheap, rookie deals the better in Tampa Bay.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Bucs

Teams that fare well with franchise quarterbacks with contracts in excess of $20 million draft well. That’s why teams like New England, Baltimore, Green Bay, Seattle and Pittsburgh routinely make the playoffs, while teams like New Orleans, Indianapolis, Washington that are inconsistent in their drafting are more hit and miss.

Expect Licht and Greenberg to already have a salary cap plan in place to absorb the big salary spikes that are coming down the road from extensions for Winston, Evans, Alexander and others. And expect Winston to improve each year and earn every dollar he has coming to him thanks to some lesser quarterbacks like Glennon, Osweiler and Cousins, who is set to make nearly $24 million with the exclusive franchise tag this year.

“Obviously we can’t discuss or comment directly on Jameis’ situation,” Gaske said. “It’s just not the appropriate time, but certainly, as you would expect, we are going to keep a very close eye on the market. We expect the market to continue to escalate in favor of impact quarterbacks such as Jameis.”

Share On Socials

About the Author: Scott Reynolds

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: sr@pewterreport.com
Subscribe
Notify of
40 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
FLBoyInDallas
4 years ago

Much appreciated Scott. Fab Five is an institution among Bucs fans “in the know”. The other more gossipy, less content-driven, sites are for the bottom dwellers (generally speaking) that focus on their feelings instead of the facts and who can’t read more than a hundred words at one time without their eyes glazing over and drool coming out of the corner of their mouths. I have to admit, though, that I wish we were still getting that magazine in the mail like we used to. Ah…the good ol’ days! ;) Back on topic, I’m excited about Sweezy being healthy and… Read more »

toofamiliar17
4 years ago

re: Fab 2 It’s definitely noteworthy that centers are cheaper than guards, all things being equal, but I’m also not sure it would actually save us money, unless we ultimately franchise Marpet once his deal is up. If the money is important to him, he could easily leave us for a team that’s offering him the opportunity to play guard, where he’ll make more money both in the short and long term for the remainder of his career. He’s already flashed All Pro potential there. Even if he plays center for us for the next two years, that doesn’t mean… Read more »

toofamiliar17
4 years ago

The only Fab 4 I strongly disagree with is Obi. I just can’t understand anyone who describes this guy as being “physical”. When he takes a good angle to a ball carrier, and when he’s entirely unblocked, then yes, he is a good tackler who can lay some big hits. The problem is how infrequently he actually gets to that point. I watched 5 full games of his film, and I literally saw him shed exactly 0 blocks. No matter who got hands on him – a OL, TE, or WR – if an opponent got hands on him AT… Read more »

cgmaster27
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 years ago

Have to totally agree with you too. Obi is an warrior in the gym, but his play does leave a bit to be desired. The only way I would want the Bucs to get him, is if we used our late second round pick to get him. He’s not a 1st round talent on tape. This is way I hate the combine sometimes. People put WAY too much stock into it. As for Ross to the Aint’s, I don’t think there is any way they can’t take a defensive player. Their defense has been horrible for like 10 straight years… Read more »

moose40
4 years ago

That’s a number the Bucs have never had to deal with before as the franchise has never signed a quarterback it has drafted to a contract extension. Not first-rounder Vinny Testaverde from the 1998 draft. Not Trent Dilfer from the 1994 draft. And not first-rounder Josh Freeman from the 2009 draft.
Didn’t Chris Simms sign a 2 year extension in 2006?

surferdudes
4 years ago

Scott you mention all of the good young players we have that will demand big contracts in the future. It’s obvious all can’t be retained for cap reasons. Is this where Licht puts in play some of the lessons he learned from his time in N.E.? What I mean by that is the Pats have been know to trade players, even pro bowlers, at the peak of their careers for high draft choices rather then pay them big money. This allows them to keep the pipeline going of good players on the cheap. The one constant of course is Q.B.,… Read more »

cgmaster27
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

I think Licht would be smart to take that approach. If I were the Bucs, I’d trade MCcoy right after next season and get a 1st for him. Of course you have to replace that with a pick this year or next, but it’s something to look at. I know I’ll catch hate for the MCcoy trade suggestion, but I wouldn’t mind it one bit for a 1st.

Naplesfan
4 years ago

Rick Stroud of Tampa Bay Times seems to have a different take on what the Bucs told him about Mike Evans – that the fifth year extension means the Buc’s won’t worry about a long term contract for Evans at all this year, and that the Bucs are also perfectly prepared to franchise Mike after next year. That could be just posturing – but it’s pretty unlike Jason Licht to do a lot of posturing. Jameis Winston will certainly get paid well enough, though again, like Mike Evans, the Bucs may decide to simply exercise his fifth year option, and… Read more »

cgmaster27
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

I see it as if the Bucs sign AP, they wouldn’t have to worry about RB in round 1. Now they would definitely draft another good one, he’ll maybe even cook if he’s there in round 1. Look what Tennessee did last year. They signed the veteran and drafted a RB as well and it led to the number 1 running game in football. We’ve seen that Licht likes to bring a veteran in for a stop gap and draft a player the same year. I personally really like the strategy. Now much like yourself this would hinge on AP… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  cgmaster27
4 years ago

You bring up an interesting connundrum, cg … sign AP now and then wait till later in the draft to take a running back … or wait to see if Cook is available, should the Bucs decide a RB in the first is a good pick (I’ve always been iffy on that one, as you know), and if not then sign AP. It could go either way. If it becomes a pre-draft decision to sign AP, I’ll take a wild assed guess and say that Jason Licht will probably wait til the last minute before the draft to make his… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Why do you folks keep referring to Adrian Peterson as “AP” as his name would suggest? His nickname is AD as in All Day. What ever he is called, I would be very cautious with a likely very short remedy to our RB situation.

Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

The Bucs (Coach Koetter) are clearly concerned with a short term situation at running back this season. They’ve got a known factor of Doug Martin, their leading rusher of the last 5 seasons, being suspended three games at the beginning of the season. For a team needing to make the next step up – making the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons – those three games are vitally important to not just write off. Secondly, even if Martin is back to his old form from 2012 and 2015, he is still subject to injury as he so often… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Cook is not a bell cow RB in the NFL. He is a 12-15 touch per game back. He is a 3rd down back who could replace Charles Sims. That is it. He is not Leonard Fournette or Adrian Peterson. At 5’10 / 210 lbs he’s lighter than Doug Martin who is 5’9″ / 223 lbs. At the combine Cook ran a 4.51 and in 2012 Martin ran a 4.55, so the speed is about the same. Doug Martin is STILL the better option as the primary RB in Tampa. His suspension hurts the team in the short term and… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  BucWild02
4 years ago

BucWilde – I’m not advocating cutting Martin. As I’ve commented many times in the threads here, it makes perfect sense for the Bucs to keep him until “D-day” – the day after the third week of the regular season, when his four-game suspension will be completed. See how he holds up in pre-season practice and games, then they can decide whether they have a better alternative to Doug, or not. But it is clear that the Bucs are not satisfied to stand pat and depend 100% on Doug Martin being the Martin of 2012 or 2015. They WILL bring in… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Naples: It’s AD not “AP”. If you’re going to pimp the guy at least know enough about him to get his nickname right. Of course he and even coaxing “Beast Mode” out of retirement are options. I just don’t see either as viable ones with their likely salary demands, guaranteed amount and the concerns about them being able to regain their former skills given their age. I think we’ll draft a RB in the first three rounds and just sit tight with Doug Martin and see what he brings to Training Camp. You say running backs are a “dime a… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

His name is Adrian Peterson, and like all other players I use their initials, not some dumb “stage name” or whatever promoted by fans who are not Bucs fans.

You really need to get over your fixation on your “thing”, which isn’t a “thing”.

AP is Adrian Peterson.

cgmaster27
Reply to  BucWild02
4 years ago

Haha, this coming from the guy claiming McCaffery is a generational talent. You claiming that his speed is similar to Doug’s speed is the same finishing the joke with a nice cherry on top. I mean I have to ask, do you drink heavily before commenting?

EastEndBoy
4 years ago

I agree with @Naplesfan on not discounting the 5th year options and franchising for Evans and Winston. With DJax being a short-term (expensive) rental, I suspect that some of this (Evans in particular) will depend on how well DJax performs this year – if he falls off the proverbial 30+ year old WR cliff, then Licht will probably cut him and use that salary to pay Evans. If he still has legs left, then perhaps all of that gets delayed a year (I don’t have DJax’s deal in front of me, but I don’t recall it having potential dead-cap money… Read more »

MudManVA
4 years ago

Thanks Scott for your fab 5, I think all PR readers were grumpy this week with not having it last week 😳! Agree with the line shuffle to get the best 5 on the field. Also 2 TE that are threats helps that line too. I little off topic but questions for you before mock 4.0: Mcaffery is more of a better Simms replacement than an every down RB. Simms is who he is and don’t think he back unless. Heap. How likely is Licht to trade out of 19? (Up or down). We’ll see how the drat rolls but… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  MudManVA
4 years ago

Mudman – Maye in round 2 is probably going to require a trade up from our spot to the upper half of round 2 … but if we trade down in Round 1 then that certainly becomes do-able at a reasonable price. Good safety talent this year, and we need more talent there, so a safety in the first two days of the draft seems like a very good possibility.

MudManVA
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Naples I agree with you. Safety needs to be addressed in the first 2 rounds, but all the safeties thrown around will not be there at pick 50. Maye the most likely to be the latter between baker & Obi (whom I’m not in love with). So then the BUCS would have to use 19 to get one of the which I’m I. Favor. I would much favor jockeying down & around to get one of the S. I truly believe the Bucs need to get playmakers on offense first and foremost. They are very very thin at WR, dicey… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  MudManVA
4 years ago

Why do some folks keep adding an extra “m” to Charles’ last name? It’s Sims not Simms (like Phil and Chris)

Horse
4 years ago

Excellent Fab 5 Scott. There’s a lot to digest with the 29 million cap money left as about half of it will be used for draft picks and free agents after the draft? My guess is they keep the maximum they can carry over for 2018 and I don’t know what that might be? Anybody know? I’ll just say for right now say 10 million for 2018 carry over, which doesn’t leave much yet to pay for Free Agent acquirement before this draft . I love the Marpet move to Center. I’d rather keep Evan Smith over Hawley. My whole… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

For your sake my friend, I’m pulling for Gottschalk too.

Steven007
4 years ago

Nice work, Scott. With two minor personal exceptions (mentioned below) I think you met your standard. Great job on Fab 4 in particular and the NFC South picks. I agree with your picks. And any real Bucs fan gets queasy when they consider the potential threats going to division rivals, particularly players we’d love to fall to us. Hey, isn’t that a foreign concept of late? Players falling to us because we’re drafting in the lower half of the draft? Hopefully that trend continues. My quibble is with the first two Fabs and their focus, almost entirely on player salary.… Read more »

MudManVA
4 years ago

I also like the possibility of signing AP if it is for a 1 or 2 year deal at a reasonable price. Doesn’t kill the cap. “If” he has some left in the tank that would scare defenses. Minn line was bad last year & they couldn’t throw (no threat). The Bucs can throw well so it takes sole focus off AP., and off Jameis.

Obviously at right deal

Buc 1976
4 years ago

AP needs to walk off into the sunset while he still can walk

Pick6
4 years ago

if Jameis performs at a true pro bowl level (not alternate) and leads the team to the playoffs, he will probably add at least $3-4 million a year over a 5+ year deal to his value

GoldsonAges
4 years ago

Thanks Scott. I had nightmares about Brees and John Ross just then. I thought your players for our division rivals was spot on. Great read.

drdneast
4 years ago

I replied to the original Marpet story when it broke but I did it on my phone so perhaps it never went through. Horse, why in the world would your want a bench warmer playing center over a starter. What kind of logic is that. Hawley came in and made the line better from the start when he replaced Smith who has yet to get his job back. It’s also nice that Scott Reynolds is so casual with Marpet’s money. I wonder how he feels about it. We had areal good center/guard play here back in the 90s who the… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  drdneast
4 years ago

Dr. D: Are you referring to Tutan Reyes? He was a former Buccaneer who went to Carolina but he played OT for them not center.

scubog
4 years ago

Gee Dr. D I was hoping you could remember the guys name who left here and apparently did little in Carolina since he’s not their center now and must have had a forgettable career. At first I thought you were thinking Zuttah but he went to Baltimore not Carolina. I think Marpet was drafted with the intent of eventually putting him at center. He was a tackle at Hobart. I’m no fan of either Joe Hawley or Evan Smith as the long term answer at the pivot. It’s easier to find a decent guard than a quality center. With five… Read more »

surferdudes
4 years ago

I’ve been guilty of calling Sims, Simms, or is it Simms, Sims? Maybe he just hasn’t made enough of a name for himself on the field. At any rate, maybe after the draft I can forget his name altogether.

MudManVA
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

Amen bro

drdneast
4 years ago

As I stated earlier the player in question left in the 90s.
To be more exact, I think he wad signed in the Panthers first season.

drdneast
4 years ago

The players name in question was Jim Pyne. I was wrong about where he went after he left the Bucs. He actually signed a FA contract with the Detroit Lions where he played center. He was then left unprotected by the Lions in the supplemental draft and the expansion Cleveland Browns in 1999 picked him up and moved him back to guard. He was voted the teams best offensive lineman. He ended his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was quite a find for the Bucs who drafted him in the seventh round and he started his first year at… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  drdneast
4 years ago

I should have figured that one out since my oldest daughter and he were friends and even went on a couple of dates. Never got to meet him.

Buc 1976
4 years ago

The Dallas Cowboys did not build an all star O Line with 4-5 Rd picks! Bucs just draft a darn C in 2nd Rd like Elfin from​ Ohio S.

drdneast
4 years ago

Scubog, too bad she didn’t get hitched to him.
As a fellow father of two daughters, he looked like he would have been a pretty good catch.
His dad, who played in the AFL, did pretty good for himself after football.
It looks like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Rusty Rhino
4 years ago

All For Mr. Winston to earn more money, I am just not a fan of the 100+ million dollar QB’s it makes it so much more difficult to have a good to better than good football team around these Qb’s. I am All for guys getting paid, this is a tough sport. But to the tune of 100+ million dollars for one player how much is this a % of the team cap over the course of the contract? To me anything over 23% sounds like to much. 20% would be better. When you do have 51 other players on… Read more »