The Bucs And The Salary Cap

February 15th, 2012

Yes, Joe’s read recent reports about how the Bucs have “rolled over” unused salary cap space and plan to be active in free agency in 2012. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Frankly, Joe yawns at the topic and isn’t inclined to write much about it. For Joe, salary cap chatter is boring unless it revolves around players having to be cut as it relates to the cap or, for example, if the Bucs were forced to spend a certain amount of money in the offseason to hit a mandated payroll number. But neither is the case in 2012, so Joe doesn’t care much about the numbers.

Yes, the Bucs will make moves in free agency because they have no choice. The current “Plan” has always called for fixing draft misses in free agency. And the Bucs have at least one such huge hole at linebacker, cornerback and safety. So Joe expects the Bucs to snag at least two impact free agents at those positions, plus find something significant on offense — more significant than Kregg Lumpkin.

As far as the money goes, Joe can do math well enough to figure out the Bucs don’t have to spend a mountain of money to make those kinds of free agent moves. Heck, if they move on from, say, Kellen Winslow and Jeff Faine, that’s a big eight-figure pile of cash right there. Joe’s not saying they will cut/trade those guys, just that spending money in free agence doesn’t necessarily mean moving the payroll needle significantly.

Again, Joe just wants to see great players on the field, great teamwork and great coaching, and Joe knows final payroll numbers really don’t have a lot to do with that.

Wtih so many holes on the team (secondary, linebacker, perhaps wide receiver) and house Team Glazer money in hand, the Bucs could be players, so writes eye-RAH! Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.

“We’ll be more active in free agency than we were last year,” Dominik said Tuesday as new head coach Greg Schiano continued to work on filling out his staff. “We purposely rolled every penny we could into this year’s cap. Clubs didn’t have to do that, but we wanted to. We have plans.”

An ESPN report said Tampa Bay is carrying over $23.5 million from 2011, estimating the Bucs will have $60.5 million in cap space heading into the Mar. 13 start of free agency, second only to the Kansas City Chiefs ($62.9 million).

“We’ll be involved in free agency,” Dominik said. “To what capacity, it depends on what the list looks like. We’re prepared, and that’s the most important thing.”

Now Joe took Dominik’s words as very guarded. In other words, the fantasy football crowd that thinks the Bucs are going drunken sailor spending on players may be a bit disappointed.

If Joe was in Dominik’s position, he’d target a top shelf receiver, a mid-level cornerback (while drafting Mo Claiborne with the fifth overall pick) and try to get somebody to play linebacker.

That right there could result in three wins alone without pretending to be T. Boone Pickens.

44 Responses to “The Bucs And The Salary Cap”

  1. Jared Says:

    Right on the money Joe. They’ll make moves, but I don’t expect a major one. Also Joe, can you explain to me why people keep linking the Bucs to Mario Williams? That move doesnt make sense to me if we have Clayborn, Bowers, and Bennett.

  2. Fatmosh Says:

    @Jared: Because they just want to link the Bucs to the best available player, regardless of need.

  3. bucfanjeff Says:

    I think our FA moves may indicate our intentions with the #5 pick.
    It’s hard to pass on Claiborne or Richardson – and we need both.
    I like Richardson myself, but it’s easy to argue the need for either.

  4. Richard Says:

    I just hope people keep in mind that there’s a reason a lot of these guys are being allowed to hit the market. And it’s not, “They’re great players, we just don’t want them anymore.”

  5. Joe Says:


    Also Joe, can you explain to me why people keep linking the Bucs to Mario Williams? That move doesnt make sense to me if we have Clayborn, Bowers, and Bennett.

    Makes no sense.

  6. gotbbucs Says:

    Mike Tolbert, Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Curtis Lofton, Dan Connor, Brandon Carr, Richard Marshall, Tyvon Branch, Carl Nicks, Ben Grubbs, and maybe even Cadillac Williams. I might even throw Mario Williams name out there, not because I think it will happen, but because this is one of those once in a generation “Free Agent in the Prime of His Career” guys that you simply have to sniff around no matter how crazy the idea.
    I expect most of these guys to at least be targets for Dominik. He knows as well as all of us that his ass is riding on this offseason. I think any combination of two or three of those players to go along a few signings for depth and with the likely pick of Morris Claiborne in the 1st would be a great start for Schiano and his future staff.

  7. Brad Says:

    Dominik has to make significant moves in FA this year and I believe he will. There’s no doubt he has this year and this year only to greatly improve this roster. With over 600 FA’s coming available I can see us adding at least 3 top tier guys to this team. The fans and media will crucify Dominik if he pulls another stunt like last year. I’m sure the Glazers and Dominik realize their ridiculous plan was a complete failure last year. I’d be shocked if we didn’t land a couple of top FA’s this year.

  8. Theodore Says:

    If only T. Boone Pickens was the owner instead of the cheap-ass Glazers.

    With the Bucs penny-pinching on Butch Davis’ contract, what makes anyone think they are going to spend significantly more on FAs than years past?

    The lack of a salary floor these last few years has been a financial boon to the Glazers. They ain’t giving up da booty until they have to, which is next year.

  9. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    a “mid-level” corner and “somebody to play” LB? Way to go big there Joe

    How about this…..Grimes, Vilma, Reggie Wayne in FA; Trent Richardson, Luke Kuechly, TY Hilton in the draft

    Boom – playoffs

  10. BKNYfootballhead Says:

    I think the Super Bowl champs are evidence of what 4 great defensive ends can do for a defense. The versatility of Bowers, Bennett, and Williams would do wonders for the defense. Bowers & Bennett can move inside. Williams can drop back as an OLB in pass rush situations. It seems only Clayborn needs to have his hand in the dirt.
    Mario Williams is a supreme talent that would help any defense in the league.
    The price tag might be the only thing that doesn’t make sense.

  11. Joe Says:


    a “mid-level” corner and “somebody to play” LB? Way to go big there Joe

    Joe lives in reality, sorry.

    Right now, a mid-level corner is better than Aqib Talib.

    Just about any warm body with a handful of years as a starting linebacker is an upgrade from Quincy Black.

    Joe would be shocked — shocked! — if the Bucs sign two high-level free agents at any position(s).

    And if the Bucs draft Trent Richardson at No. 5, Joe will need CPR (preferable from Rachel Watson).

  12. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    Joe the reality is that a mid level corner and Adam Heyward type LB is not going to translate into wins

    I think it’s the fans obligation to hold the team to a high level and this team has some serious holes to fill. Remember, the decision to carry over cap space didn’t have to be made. I think this team is going to be a real player this offseason

  13. Steve From Oregon Says:

    Jared…..Mario is an immediate upgrade over any of those guys; however, he is starting to get injured alot…

  14. Steve From Oregon Says:

    With all the press Dom is putting out there about being active in free agency, it would be a PR nightmare if the Bucs didnt actually follow through with this.

    Should be interesting….

  15. Meh Says:

    If we intend to draft Richardson, we damn well better get TWO top tier corners in free agency. Two. Top tier.

  16. Meh Says:

    So joe thinks Black is the linebacker to be replaced? I hate Black, think it was a terrible signing, but I don’t see it. Hayes is not going to get a new contract. Bam – we need a weakside LB. Foster needs to be replaced with a vet, he was clearly in over his head. Bam – we need a MLB. And all that is before we even get to Black.


    “But I will say, we’re going uncover and look (at players). I know we’re building this football team through the draft, but we will get involved in free agency when it’s appropriate – finding veteran players and adding people here and there to this roster. So we’ll continue to look at that avenue as a supplement to the way we want to build our football team.”

    -Mark Dominick. April 2011.

    Talk is cheap. Last year it was only appropriate to add a punter. I hate to sound pessimistic, but, they act like people don’t remember the year before.

  18. Meh Says:

    The difference is this year they have egg on their face. A whole dozen eggs on their face. They HAVE to make some moves to regain fan confidence. Schiano himself said they want to rebuild fan trust, well here’s their chance. Spend in free agency. Don’t need to be insane about it, but don’t cheap out either. Add a ton of competition and a couple big names (probably can’t get the biggest names, but come close).

    I still need to see it to believe it, but it is now or never.

  19. thomas 2.2 Says:

    What about defensive tackle? Is anyone really going to rely on Price and GMC (“Games Missed Constantly”)?

    I think that the on-field signs are good on Price. McCoy has loads of talent that equates to zero on-field production. And no, if he is released on a middle screen and pushes the quarterback after he lets go of the ball on a completion to the back waiting at or near the line of scrimmage – that is not disruption or pressure.

    If Games Missed Constantly is released by the Guard and flashes into the backfield only to be trap chipped by the backside pulling guard or tackle and the RB cuts right underneath McCoy for a big gain up the middle – that is not “disruption.” That is perfect offensive execution.

    The Atlanta win is a great example – McCoy’s hit on Ryan was a middle screen release by the O-Lineman and the novice fan was jumping up and down about how McCoy got to Ryan – he was released/not blocked intentionally – LOL.

    We need a DT badly. Clearly McCoy and probably Price as well cant play 16 games.

  20. Big Picture Guy Says:

    Joe, for someone who doesn’t care much to write about the salary cap, it seems as though you have a new article about the bucs spending ways almost every day! 😉

    There really aren’t many impact LB’s out there. Vilma and Fletcher are the seasoned vets, but have started slipping lately and really aren’t worth the money they might command. Curtis Lofton might be the only name worth the pay out there. I’d rather see us get a LB in the 2nd round of the draft and upgrade the secondary in FA, in addition to drafting Claiborne, where there actually are people worth the pay at both CB and S.

    I’d really like to see Faine, Trueblood and Winslow replaced, but the reality is that none or maybe just 1 of those guys will get the boot.

    Alos, what is the status of Earnest Grahm’s contract? He is perfect as a 3rd RB in the depth chart, and with him a late round drafted RB and Blount, I can buy that as a RB corps.

  21. Big Picture Guy Says:

    Thomas, the bucs still have 38 million tied up in GMC. Keep dreaming buddy.

  22. thomas 2.2 Says:

    They have 60 million available of a 120 million cap (I think). LMAO; and Joe says that is not an issue. Sure it isn’t.

    Not surprisingly, the Super Bowl Champs are 1.7 million over the cap right now. I am sure that their GM believes that they would have won if it they allocated only 50% of that money on talent. Sure!

    Go through their roster and pull off players that account for 60 million dollars of salary and then tell me how good you think that they would be. Basically, remove Eli and their defensive line.

  23. Joe Says:


    Alos, what is the status of Earnest Grahm’s contract? He is perfect as a 3rd RB in the depth chart,

    Joe would be shocked if Earnest Graham comes back. Joe can’t remember too many running backs who come back from an Achilles injury much less 31-year old running backs.

    If the Bucs are depending on a hobbled 31-year old running back for depth, this team is in deep s(p)it.

  24. Joe Says:


    I hate Black, think it was a terrible signing, but I don’t see it.

    Bingo. Too much money invested in Quincy Black. 🙁 This move makes signing Michael Clayton seem like a steal. At least Clayton could block.

  25. deminion Says:

    I think we spend in FA ive been sayin it all along reason being is because everyone saw how bad we needed FA’s last yr

  26. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Looks like the Bucs are interviewing former Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Bill Sheridan, who recently joined Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State to coach cornerbacks, for the Bucs defensive coordinator position.

  27. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    He is currently the defensive backs coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He was a coach for a number of college teams, including Notre Dame and Michigan State. From 2005 to 2008 he was the linebackers coach for the New York Giants of the National Football League. In 2009 was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants.

  28. Bucworld Says:

    Drafting for need usually gets us average at best players. Drafting the best player available gives us a better chance of landing a playmaker. If Trent Richardson is the best player available take him. Why risk missing out on great talent just because we have needs all over the field. Free agency will help with those holes.

    As for DE’s, the jury is still out as far as what Clayborn and Bowers can do. Remember, they were rookies last year on a young D-line w/out many veterans. I believe that they will turn out to be good players with addition of new vets and coaches.

    For LB and DB we will need free agency no matter who we draft. Not only do we need starters, we also need depth. It would be hard to find many players in the Bucs back seven that would start on any other NFL team.


    I would bring Fletcher in for locker room presence alone. Consummate professional on every level.

    And, I’ll take a late stage Fletcher on the field too:

    2011 – 166 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 ints, 3 ffs

    Black 59, 0, 1, 1
    Hayes 61,0, 1, 2
    Foster 84, 2, 1, 1

  30. jarrett Says:

    For those who think mario williams makes no sense because we have bowers and claybourne you are silly. Why wouldnt we take anyone who can rush the passer. Giants have like 5 or 6 d ends better than the two we got, and you guys think we have enough. cmon in a passing league you can not have too many people who can get to the quarterback

  31. stevek Says:

    CUT: Faine, Q. Black, G. Hayes, and Trueblood…

    Cut Talib, and add 2 FA CB’s.

    Add WR through FA, and add a LG, and RT.

    Draft T-Rich…..

    Path to victory.

  32. Brad Says:

    @thomas. You will be proven wrong about GMC. With that he has to stay on the field all year to prove it. Price IMO wil be our best D lineman we have.

  33. BKNYfootballhead Says:



    Preach the word. Mario would be heaven sent.

  34. Big Picture Guy Says:

    Thomas et all, you miss the point. When you have so much 1st and 2nd round money, youth and talent invested in the DL, you don’t spend 15 mil a year on someone to come in and take time away from those guys. You would all be worse GM’s than Dominik!!


    Look at Detroit’s cap problem. All their $ is at QB, Megatron, and the DL.

    They have no $ to shore up their secondary.

  36. RustyRhino Says:

    Win’s = Fan Trust, Meh.. not so sure about FA signings. But that could be one of the reasons Coach Gruden has fans who would take him back, every year a new set of FA players. Sure, He didn’t have many draft picks to use to help his cause. But we sure did sign plenty of FA’s… you still have your Brown, Garner & Deese jerseys don’t you?

    I am not saying that FA are not needed or never any good. Look at #56 Hardy Nickerson FA great pick up, How about #97 Simeon Rice Great FA. Or one of my Favorite FA signings of all time #77 Brad Culpepper.
    Not all FA work out with their new teams. While some do work out well. How their signing is to instill Fan trust is hard to comprehend. Fan hope YES! For me trust comes from many things, how much $ things cost is not one of them. I do want success on the field YES! and if to have that success we need to sign FA to fill our needs. (CB, S, LB, OL, b/u QB) but lets not throw money away just to spend it to build Fan Trust.

  37. Meh Says:

    Rusty – if we don’t make some FA signings we aren’t going to get the Ws. Signing them doesn’t mean we will either, but if we don’t make some moves we won’t even have a chance.

  38. eric Says:

    rocksar has had three full drafts with number four around the corner.

    just how many does the man need?

    as for free agents were not gonna get much and the excuses will abound.

    yawn…..the plan marches on.

  39. Thomas 2.2... Says:

    I am not saying draft a DT in the first round. I am saying that you need one in free agency – not a 10 million player but someone more productive than the jokers we have.

  40. Big Marlon B Says:

    please no Bill Sheridan. the guy has a decent reputation as a position coach….but the one year he served as D coordinator for the Giants can best be summarized as an absolute disaster. sandwiched in between stints by Spagnuolo and Fewell (who both had the D looking MONSTROUS for the most part), Sheridan was a joke. that year was also the year where all the friction started with Osi, because everyone knew Sheridan just wasn’t cut out for the job and while Osi may be a bit of a drama queen, he was the only one who stepped up and said something about it.

  41. Izzy Says:

    Curtis Lofton-OLB, Stephen Tulloch-ILB, Broderick Bunkley-DT, Cortland Finnegan-CB, LaRon Landry-S, Robert Meacham-WR. Still leaves us $30 some million under the cap. Then, draft Morris Claiborne-CB (LSU), Orson Charles-TE (Georgia), Doug Martin-RB (Boise St.). Now we can be competitive in NFC South with 6 to 8 mew starters.

  42. I_Miss#40 Says:

    Izzy, I like your thinking, but I think you need 1 more FA cb (Terrell Thomas may come cheap coming off of injury), and I would like to see an OLB in FA as well, maybe a Leroy Hill, Erin Henderson wlb type or even a Manny Lawson for Strong Side. Oh yeah and take the cap hit and cut Q.Black.

  43. I_Miss#40 Says:

    Sorry I missed that you had Lofton listed for outside, I think he’s a natural MLB I think you could get either him or Tulloch if they hit the market, but would prefer Lofton.

  44. Dave Says:

    They need to sign a FA CB, S, and LB and then they need to draft a CB and LB.
    They need to sign a FA WR and draft a speedy RB or vice-versa
    They also need to sign FA DTs and O-Lineman for depth.

    I still do not expect big splash names, but I do expect a good amount of signings this year of decent young talent because the lack of depth shown last year.