The Buccaneers are very close to being in salary cap hell. As a result of their limited cap space, the Bucs could upwards of 20 players in 2023.
The Buccaneers will have 23 free agents after the 2022 season.
This past off-season, the Buccaneers also had some notable free agents but were able to come to terms with Carlton Davis, Ryan Jensen, Leonard Fournette, and others.
The Bucs could not sign everyone, which is, unfortunately, how the business of free agency works.
Alex Cappa signed with Cincinnati to shore up their offensive line. Jordan Whitehead left for the New York Jets.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski retired, and the Bucs did not offer contracts to Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh. Pierre-Paul recently signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
Could the Buccaneers Tom Brady Return For A 24th Season?
The Buccaneers will have 25 free agents led by Tom Brady and Lavonte David.
The Bucs have already kicked the can down the road with Tom Brady, and he will count $35 million against the cap in 2024.
As we heard Brady so eloquently word it after his ten day training camp holdout, ”I’m 45 years old and have a lot of shit going on.” With the possibility that Brady may be headed for a divorce, is there be a chance that Brady would return for a 24th season at 46 years of age? Would that be with Tampa? If he does, a chunk of that 35 million cap money could go to 2024.
Linebacker Lavonte David is in the final year of his two-year contract that he signed in 2021. David is the longest-tenured Bucs and is a fan favorite. He has had a great career, and if he played in another market, they would be talking about him as a possible Hall of Famer.
David plays a position where diminishing skills can start showing up around his age. There are exceptions. Derrick Brooks added two Pro Bowls to his resume at 33 and 35 years of age.
Bobby Wagner of the Rams is still playing at a high level and is the same age as David. London Fletcher and Karlos Dansby also played well into their 30s at a high level. Those are the exceptions.
David has missed 16/34 games the last two seasons, so his overall health will be a factor in the Bucs’ decision to sign him to a new contract. Booby Wagner’s new deal is worth 50 million over five years.
The entire class of 2019 is up for their second contracts, including defensive backs Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Mike Edwards, and Antoine Winfield Jr., Linebacker Anthony Nelson, and wide receiver Scotty Miller.
The Bucs have only 28 million in salary devoted to their defensive backs this year. However, if the Bucs are to sign all three pending free agents, that number will rise significantly in 2023.
Could Buccaneers Receiver Scotty Miller return in 2023?
Scotty Miller has started to show that he can make some plays when his number is called. After seeing limited playing time in the first two weeks of the season, Miller has already surpassed his receiving totals from last season. As the nagging injuries continue to haunt Jones and Gage, Miller’s playing time should be there.
The Buccaneers also have five members of the defensive line playing on one-year contracts. Akeim Hicks, Rakeem Nunez Roches, Will Gohlstomn, Patrick O’conner, and Deadrin Senat.
None of these guys will break the bank to bring them back, but when you don’t have a lot of room to maneuver around the salary cap, every dollar counts.
The Bucs also have to consider an extension for their other inside linebacker Devin White who will be a free agent in 2024.
Julio Jones, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Rudolph, Aaron Stinnie, Gio Bernard, Keanu Neal, Logan Ryan, Breshad Perriman, and Carl Nassib are also all free agents next season.
My guess is this roster looks very different in 2023 than it does this season. The good news is that Jason Licht and his staff in the front office are experts at mastering the cap and moving dollars around to maximize the talent on the roster.