Something that really grinds my gears, is hearing someone in the media claim the Bucs spent $140 million on three players in 24 hours. It is such a disingenuous claim, but, unfortunately, people get suckered into it. Rarely do players finish out their free agent contracts, so it’s a waste of time to even look at those figures. If they were guaranteed, as baseball and basketball contracts are, then it would be another story.
The structure of an NFL contract is critical because of the implications it has now, and in the future, towards the salary cap. Many of you may have read that the Bucs front loaded the contracts for Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and Eric Wright. As I wrote yesterday, these deals were, in essence, two year guaranteed contracts with multiple one year team options attached. The Bucs front loaded the contracts to the tune of $31 million towards the 2012 salary cap. Similar numbers will be applied to the 2013 cap. Here’s where it gets interesting.
If any of the players under perform through the first two years of their contracts, the Bucs can release them with negligible impact on the salary cap. In other words, little “dead money” hampering the salary cap because of the lack of bonuses. Things become more interesting when you see whose contracts are expiring after the 2013 season, when the Bucs have this added cap flexibility.
Following the 2013, the following impact players will be free agents: Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, and Brian Price. In addition to these players, Gerald McCoy has huge money towards the cap in 2013 ($12.5 million), before he becomes a free agent in 2014… So he will be a candidate for an extension/restructure.
Mark Dominik deserves a round of applause for what he was able to accomplish. He was able to land two IMPACT free agents and a solid starter at cornerback, without placing the Bucs in salary cap hell in 2-3 years. This, also, allows for the Bucs to sign their own, priority free agents when they hit the market. Well done, Mark Dominik.