Cap Crunch: How the Buccaneers Can Compete in 2020

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As we sit here in February, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have about $84 million in cap space. While that may seem like a large sum of money, it will go fast once in house players are re-signed. With that being said, this free agent period and draft is set up perfectly for the Buccaneers to compete in 2020. In this article, I’ll go over just how the Buccaneers can come out of the offseason ready for a playoff push.

In-House Options

The Buccaneers have a number of free agents ready to hit the market.

It would be almost impossible to sign them all, so who are the players that won’t return in 2020? Well to start, you have to pay a quarterback. Whether it’s Jameis Winston, Phillip Rivers, or Tom Brady, 27-30 million dollars of the total cap will be eaten up by the position.

Fans also are clamoring to re-sign Shaquil Barrett, and for good reason. The 2019 NFL sack leader is a key piece to this defense, but that’s another $20 million gone. After signing just two players, the Buccaneers will have an estimated $37 million remaining.

Jason Pierre-Paul is another player that I would love to see in pewter to start the 2020 season. He only made $5 million last season, and I suspect that number won’t be enough for his services in 2020. Pierre-Paul’s contract is the trickiest to pinpoint, but for now, I would guess he would sign for around $7.5 million.

Let Them Walk

And just like that, we’re down to $29.5 million in cap space. In order to save some cash, I would opt to let Ndamukong Suh leave in free agency. His $8 million contract is too rich for my blood, and I doubt he’ll take a pay cut. Carl Nassib is another player I would debate on letting walk go. He earned about $2 million last season, and if he expects a raise, it won’t be in Tampa Bay.

A few other notable free agents are Peyton Barber, Demar Dotson and Breshad Perriman. Barber is just an average NFL running back in my opinion, so I would like to see the team upgrade in free agency or the draft. Dotson is an aging veteran who saw his play decline last season. I would welcome him back at the vet minimum, but not for the almost $4 million he made last year. Lastly, Perriman could be looking to cash in after a great second half of the season. But again, I’m not willing to overpay for a wide receiver with plenty of options in free agency.

Free Agency

Above we mentioned a few of the more expensive options in terms of re-signing existing players. With almost $30 million in cap space to spend in free agency, who should the Buccaneers look to target?

In my opinion, this team needs an immediate upgrade at running back, guard, tackle, safety and defensive tackle. We can’t address every position, but those that are neglected, can be restocked in the draft.

Jason Licht and company have enough money to buy one elite player at a position of their choice. I propose they use it at the guard position to sign either Andrus Peat, or Brandon Scherff, both of whom will cost around $12 million.

Slotting in an elite right guard will allow the coaches to move Alex Cappa to his more natural position, right tackle. You could make a case to go after a player like Jake Conklin, right tackle out of Tennessee, but the draft is full of elite options at the position. By signing a guard, the Buccaneers can keep their options open with the 14th overall pick.
To view other potential signings, click this link: Free Agency Preview: Offensive Line

Wide Receiver

With about $18 million left in cap space to spend, Tampa Bay can shift their attention to wide receiver. Fortunately for Bruce Arians, there are a number of cheap options at the position, such as Geronimo Allison, Phillip Dorsett, or Rashard Higgins, just to name a few. These players will likely only cost a few million dollars, we’ll just say $3 million for simplicity sake.

Running Back

I’m not one to overpay for a running back, but there are a few cheap options I would consider this offseason. Jordan Howard is a potential signing, but he has a similar style to Ronald Jones II, which makes team fit an issue.

Kareem Hunt can also be bought at a relatively cheap price, but I wouldn’t be willing to pay him top dollar like he might expect.

One sleeper signing could be Washington Redskin Chris Thompson. He is a solid pass catching running back that could compliment the skillset of Ronald Jones. If I can sign him for close to $3.5 million, I would pull the trigger. After tallying up our new signings, the Buccaneers are left with about $12 million in cap space to sign any lower tiered players and draft picks, and fill out the 53 man roster.

The Draft

After the signing of mid to high tier free agents, the Buccaneers can head into the 2020 draft with their options open. With needs at right tackle and defensive line, Bruce Arians could opt to draft a player like Tristan Wirfs, tackle out of Iowa State. If there is a run on tackles in the top 10, Tampa Bay could pivot, and sign Javon Kinlaw or K’lavon Chaisson. Both are elite options on the defensive line.

Even if both positional groups run dry by pick 14, which is unlikely, the Buccaneers can still select Grant Delpit, safety out of LSU and address another need on the defensive side of the ball.

As the draft moves into day two, players like Marlon Davidson or Raekwon Davis can fill the loss of Ndamukong Suh. Still think the Buccaneers need to upgrade at running back? Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Zack Moss are both incredible values at the start of day three. Even if Tampa Bay elects to wait on offensive tackle, I love Mathew Peart or Austin Jackson in rounds three or four.

So as you can see, the Buccaneers can set themselves up in free agency to hit a home run in the draft, and address many of their needs. This scenario is just one of thousands that could occur once we hit the free agency period, but I think it’s one of the best if Bruce Arians wants to take this team to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

Photo credit: buccaneers.com

 

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