5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Who Must Be Kicked To the Curb Before Free Agency
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Who Need To Be Cut Before Free Agency
There’s a brand new regime in town, and more times than not, new regimes bring with them major roster turnover. Head coach Lovie Smith will combine responsibilities with general manager Jason Licht as they attempt to turn the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster into a winner again in 2014. It’s unclear whether or not Smith has final say on all decisions, but Licht was brought in because of his keen eye for talent evaluation.
At the time of this post, the Buccaneers have the 16th most salary cap space in the NFL. As of today, they have an estimated $12 million in cap space. While that number certainly doesn’t present a major hurdle for the team, they will need to add several different players that fit the new defensive and offensive schemes. In other words, they will stand to benefit from freeing up of at least $8 million more for 2014.
All five players on this list are from the offensive side of the ball or special teams. Although Smith’s new zone-based defensive scheme should require plenty of new faces on defense, the current roster doesn’t feature any outstanding and overpriced contracts.
Depending on how many of the following five players the Buccaneers do in fact release, they can free up anywhere from $2-18 million for salary cap space for 2014. If they release them all, and free up the latter, they will have about $30 million to work with during free agency. Those who are expecting a major roster turnover will have those expectations rewarded.
*All salary cap information comes from Overthecap.com.
5. Carl Nicks
Known to some Buccaneers fans as the worst free agent signing in the history of the franchise, Carl Nicks finished 2013 in disappointing fashion yet again. This time, his season ended after Week 3 with issues reported in some places as nerve damage due to a MRSA infection. Nicks has played in just 9-of-32 games since signing a five-year, $47.5 million deal with Tampa Bay before the 2012 season. Although a large portion of his $9.35 million 2014 salary cap number is dead money, the team can save $2.28 million by cutting Nicks.
4. Connor Barth
During a pickup basketball game last offseason, Connor Barth tore his ACL and was placed on injured reserve immediately. Long term effects from an ACL injury are not always common with kickers, but Barth’s $2 million 2014 salary cap number makes him seem like more of a luxury than a necessity. None of the $2 million is dead money, so by releasing Barth, the Buccaneers will have $2 million more to work with in free agency.
3. Michael Koenen
$3.25 million is a giant salary cap number for any punter, but it is more like a colossal number for Michael Koenen. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription based), Koenen graded out as just the 23rd best punter in 2013 out of 32 qualifiers. Something tells me that a punter who’s not even one of the top 10 best in the league, does not deserve that much money. Like Barth, Koenen’s $3.25 million carries no dead money, and releasing him will free up $3.25 million in cap space.
2. Jeremy Zuttah
Set to count $4.5 million against the 2014 salary cap, Jeremy Zuttah seems destined to be released prior to free agency. Zuttah’s play on the field really fell off in 2013, as he fell to the 22nd-best center out of 35 qualifiers according to Pro Football Focus (subscription based). Like both Barth and Koenen, Zuttah’s contract carries no dead money and the team will free up all $4.5 million by releasing him. The Buccaneers hold all the leverage, and there is a chance that they will try to re-sign him for cheaper once he is cut.
1. Davin Joseph
Quite frankly, I’m shocked that Davin Joseph hasn’t been released yet and it is really starting to worry me. Joseph is set to count for $6 million against the 2014 salary cap. Joseph was once a great run blocker, but in 2013 he graded out as the worst run-blocking guard in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription based). Again, Joseph’s contract carries no dead money and the Buccaneers will have all $6 million in salary cap space to work with if they choose to release him.