The Bucs have needs they need to address, players they need to resign, free agents they need to attract, and draft picks they can't miss on. It may sound like a lot, but in a league where quick turnarounds can be the norm, the Bucs may only be a few key moves away from being a true playoff contender again. The good news is that the key piece, Jameis Winston, is already in place.
According to Spotrac.com, the Bucs will have around $48.5 million under the projected salary cap to work with, which is 8th most in the NFL. That number could increase with just a few roster moves as illustrated below.
In this portion of "Making the Bucs Great Again," we take a look at some cap casualties I would make to increase the Bucs' cap space heading into free agency.
Potential Cap Casualties:
George Johnson - DE - $2 million
The Bucs traded for Johnson last off-season after failing to address DE in free agency and discrepency with the Bucs' initial offer sheet to the Lions restricted free agent.. Although the price was only a 5th round selection, Johnson's production was that of an undrafted free agent. Johnson has recorded sacks in just one of his six NFL seasons, when he recorded 6 sacks for the Lions in 2014. The Bucs have to improve at defensive end, which means Johnson, and his $2 million cap hit, need to be gone.
Evan Smith - OL - $2.5 million
I like Smith as depth, and quite frankly, a $2.5 million price tag for a guy who can play OG or center isn't that bad, but cheaper options are available. I know most of you can't stand Garrett Gilkey, but he is still on the roster, can provide depth, and costs just $675,000. If Smith isn't gone this off-season, he's definitely gone next off-season, when his cap number jumps to $4.5 million. With Kevin Pamphile lined up to also play OG, Smith's days would be numbered in my eyes. The only way I'd keep Smith on the roster is if Logan Mankins decided to retire. Pamphile would then become my starting left guard, and Smith would be my versatile backup. For now, I know I'm either getting Mankins' $7 million or Smith's $2.5 million in additional cap space.
Bruce Carter - LB - $4.25 million
Folks will look at the Bucs' LB corps and say the Bucs need veteran linebackers to provide depth. I will address those concerns once we get to free agency later in the week on this feature. For now, Carter is grossly overpaid as he was initially brought in to be the Bucs' starting middle linebacker. I would be willing to talk to Carter about a new contract and cap number, but his $4.25 salary is not staying on my books.
Brandon Myers - $1.9 million
I'm a fan of Brandon Myers, but it appears as if the Bucs' coaching staff is not. Myers was a healthy scratch for several games during the 2015 season. Releasing Myers would save the Bucs $1.75 million with just $166,000 in dead money. This seems like a no-brainer if Myers isn't going to play.
By releasing just these 4 players, the Bucs would gain another $10.5 million and increase their cap room to more than $59 million.
On Tuesday, we will discuss the Bucs players who are set to hit free agency. I will tell you who I would let walk, who I would keep, and how much I'd pay the ones I keep in a new contract. All of that coming on Tuesday as we continue to, "Make the Bucs Great Again."