The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently rank 28th in the league with only $2,485,957 to spare in salary cap room. This off season, several Buccaneers enter free agency. Players like Brent Grimes will be moving on from Tampa Bay. Other players such as Adam Humphries and Kwon Alexander, expect to be paid more on their next contract. This article examines players the Buccaneers could release into free agency to give the team more cap space.
Vinny Curry performed at an elite level in 2017, when given the opportunity to start for the Philadelphia Eagles. That performance earned him a new Tampa Bay contract in 2018 with the expectation being that his level of play would continue to improve. Unfortunately, his level of play declined. Even though he started seven games this season, Curry had his worse statistical season since 2015 in which he did not start a single game. Curry, currently the third highest paid defensive lineman for the Buccaneers, ranks sixth on the team in sacks this season. Releasing Vinny Curry would open up $8,000,000 (4.18%) in cap room.
In 2017, William Gholston signed a five year, $27.5 million extension to remain in Tampa Bay through the 2021 season. In the two seasons since the extension, Gholston compiled a total of one sack and 46 combined tackles. For reference, Gholston had at least two sacks and reached 50 or more combined tackles twice in his first four seasons with the team.
He is the fourth highest paid defensive lineman on the roster and his paychecks outweigh his production on the field. He has no guaranteed money remaining on his contract, so releasing Gholston would have an immediate impact. Making this move would save $3,750,000 (1.96%).
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Dotson came back down to earth this season after making the Pro Football Focus All-Pro Second Team last year. In fairness, the whole offensive line under performed this year and Dotson was not even the most underwhelming tackle on the starting offensive line. However, Dotson is not getting any younger – entering his 10th NFL season. If Donovan Smith leaves in free agency, and Caleb Benenoch is replaced (fingers crossed), it will be hard to replace a third offensive lineman in Dotson. However, there are cheaper right tackles on the market that can produce at the same level as Dotson at a cheaper cost. Releasing Dotson would save $4,803,125 (2.51%).
This might be the most obvious move of all. DeSean Jackson requested a trade at the trade deadline during the 2018 season. He vocalized his feelings that Ryan Fitzpatrick should have been the starter this season and his struggles with Jameis Winston have been apparent since Jackson arrived in Tampa Bay. Fans called Jackson a “cancer” in the locker room as well as other derogatory terms. According to Joebucsfan.com, Jackson sold his Tampa Bay home amid recent reports that Bruce Arians is trying to convince Jackson to stay. Releasing him seems the most beneficial move for both the team and the player, saving $10,000,000 (5.22%).
In 2010, the Buccaneers drafted McCoy out of the University of Oklahoma and he has been a Buccaneer ever since. He quickly became a fan favorite and represented the organization well during his time in Tampa Bay. Nevertheless, the NFL is a business and McCoy’s production is declining. His sack numbers have either stayed the same or decreased each year since 2013. His combined tackle total this season was the lowest since 2011 when he only played six games. McCoy had 21 quarterback hits this season though, which tied the second most of his career. When the Buccaneers drafted Vita Vea last year with a first round pick it raised some questions about McCoy’s future with the team. Releasing McCoy would save $13,000,000 (6.79%) if he is unwilling to take a “hometown discount” pay cut to stay in Tampa Bay.