The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have elected not to use the franchise tag for the first time in four seasons.
Tuesday’s 4pm deadline came and went with the Bucs making a move. The team has 22 pending free agents including linebacker Lavonte David and defensive back Jamel Dean to make a decision on, but none the team deemed worthy of tagging.
“The Buccaneers have utilized a franchise tag seven times since the option was introduced in the original CBA in 1993. The team made use of the tag that first season on standout left tackle Paul Gruber, who responded with a five-game holdout but eventually signed a new long-term deal with the team. The Bucs also used the tag in 1999 on defensive end Chidi Ahanotu, in 2009 on wide receiver Antonio Bryant and in 2012 on kicker Connor Barth.”
The reality is the Bucs don’t have the salary cap room to afford a franchise tag at the moment. With the team being roughly $40-$50 million over the cap, they’re in the subtraction mode rather than the addition mode currently.
This doesn’t mean the team will move on from all of its 22 pending free agents though. Expect some cap manipulation on some existing contracts as we get closer to the March 15th deadline.
After the last three seasons of pushing the salary cap down the road, it’s time for Jason Licht and company to work more of their magic.