We had to see it to believe it. Even though all indications this offseason pointed to the Bucs being players in free agency, there was still a modicum of doubt in even the most optimistic fan’s mind.
It started yesterday with the Glazers backing up the Brinks truck to grab the top wide receiver on the market. The Bucs toyed with linebacker Curtis Lofton, but found his contract demands to be too high. They quickly moved to Carl Nicks, considered one of the elite guards in the game. By this morning the Bucs were able to grab a very solid #2 cornerback in Eric Wright, before closing the deal on Nicks.
Vincent Jackson got what was, in essence, a two year, $26 million contract. That much of it was guaranteed, with three additional years remaining that have zero money guaranteed. It is a front loaded contract that will allow for the Bucs to maneuver around the salary cap when, and if they decide to extend Josh Freeman in the future.
Carl Nicks contract is structured in a similar fashion. He’ll earn $6.5 million in base salary in 2012 and a $6 million reporting bonus. Nicks’ salary will rise to $12.5 million in 2013. His base salaries for 2012 and 2013 are fully guaranteed. The final three years of his deal are not guaranteed, again giving flexibility to Bucs management.
Like Jackson and Nicks, Wright received no signing bonus, but he’ll get paid his guaranteed money in the first two years. Wright’s base salary for 2012 is $7.75 million and it’s the same for 2013. Wright also will receive a $500,000 bonus if he takes part in an unspecified amount of this year’s offseason workout program.
This all adds up to $33.75 million going against the cap in 2012. So the Bucs were able to work some serious magic by not including any signing bonuses. And after two seasons, if the Bucs feel they need to part ways with any of the three players, there should be zero cap ramifications. Stellar work by Mark Dominik, who needs to be recognized for structuring these deals… and most importantly, closing them!