For the second time in less than a month, one of Tampa Bay’s starting linebackers has restructured his contract in an effort to help the Buccaneers free up salary cap room.

Bucs middle linebacker Shelton Quarles recently reworked his contract, according to the latest NFL Players Association base salary figures.

Quarles, 34, who is under contract with Tampa Bay through the 2007 season, was scheduled to have base salaries of $3.1 million ($5.075 million cap value) and $3.750 million ($5.825 million cap value) in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

But the latest NFLPA numbers show that Quarles’ base salaries for the next two seasons have been reduced to $1.3 million, which has created a significant amount of cap room for the Bucs.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Quarles was scheduled to receive a $400,000 and $500,000 roster bonus in 2006 and 2007, respectively. While he took a significant decrease in pay, Quarles suggested the Bucs gave him some guaranteed money as part of his restructured deal.

“I don’t want to say how much the pay cut was but it allowed me to stay here [with the Bucs],” Quarles told The Tampa Tribune. “It was significant, but they also turned some of the money into a signing bonus.”

Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen has reworked several players’ contracts this offseason, including nine-time Pro Bowl LB Derrick Brooks’ deal, who agreed to take a significant pay cut that freed up approximately $5 million in cap room nearly three weeks ago.

Allen told The Tampa Tribune that the Bucs now are approximately $10 million under the NFL-mandated salary cap of $102.5 million.

While they still are interested in signing several free agents, including tackles Brad Hopkins (Tennessee) and Mike Pearson (Jacksonville), and defensive back Charles Woodson (Oakland), the Bucs will need to set aside at least $5 million worth of cap space in order to sign their 2006 draft picks in July.

If you liked this story, be sure to get the inside scoop and more detailed information on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offseason plans regarding roster changes, free agency and the NFL Draft with a Pewter Insider premium subscription.

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