*Note: The below cap space figures do not include the recent release of Riley Bullough
The 2019 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a defense heavy class. Which is the front offices attempt to address a woeful defense that was ranked 27th overall last season. In all the Bucs have eight draft picks to sign which will cost them an estimated $10,354,829. Which is a problem as Tampa Bay on has $1,704,197. Resulting in a $8,650,632 deficit after all picks are signed.
This deficit does not include any UDFA’s to sign, FA signings for the remaining of the season, or practice squad players. The Bucs have a money problem, and few realistic options to make enough cap space.
One thing is for certain though Tampa Bay must do something in order to get under the cap limit for the 2019 season. Below are a few scenarios to achieve that.
Release Gerald McCoy
This is by far the easiest solution to the Bucs financial troubles. Gerald McCoy is due to make $13 million this season, but can release him before the start of the season without a cap hit. If his salary was freed up, it would not only give the team money to sign the 2019 draft picks, but have roughly $5 million leftover as well.
The recent remarks from Bruce Arians about McCoy’s production and salary not matching up has only poured gas on the fire that is the speculation of McCoy’s future. Then there is the recent no-show of McCoy to OTA’s. Even though they are voluntary, he has never missed one. The recent events and math point his release. It remains to be seen though if the front office is willing to pull the trigger.
Release Lavonte David
For the 2019 season Lavonte David is due to make $9.75 million. David has been a key cog in the linebacker corp for the past 7 seasons, and has been one of the few bright spots on some terrible defenses. Without a doubt, he has been a very underrated player when discussing LB’s across the NFL.
Entertaining the departure of David though would be unthinkable at this point. Even though the Bucs replaced Kwon Alexander’s roster spot with rookie middle linebacker Devin White, there are still question marks with Kendall Beckwith and Jack Cichy. Both who were injured last year.
Simply put the Bucs need more depth at linebacker not less, and at this point in the season the team would be better off with David’s presence leading a young LB unit.
Release Trade Cameron Brate
Last year Cameron Brate played with a nagging injury the entire season. Earlier this year, he underwent arthroscopic surgery for a torn labrum in his hip.
Even though his production dipped and gave way for emerging TE OJ Howard to develop, Brate is still a valuable offensive weapon. If the Bucs though feel comfortable moving forward with just Howard as their main pass-catching TE, they could look to move his $7 million salary. All of which is guaranteed due to salary. Which would force the team to trade him.
If the Bucs were able to find a trade partner to take his $7 million salary, they would still need roughly a million more to sign all their picks. There are a few fringe players the team could release to make this happen. That said it grows more unlikely by the day that the Bucs will find a trade partner unless a team has to fill unexpected hole between now and week one.
According to Greg Auman of the Athletic the Bucs have till this week to get under the 90-player max.
Bucs had 72 players on roster, drafted eight this weekend and are signing another 16 undrafted free agents, so the math says they'll need to cut six players to get to 90-player max this week.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) April 29, 2019
So watch out for the team to cut 6 players this week, and they will likely use this max to cut one or more of the salary heavy players mentioned.
Stay tuned to BucsReport.com as Tampa Bay starts to make their cut decisions.
Bucs cap space info via Spotrac.com