- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Say whatever you want about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being frugal.
There may be some truth to it, but not when it comes to playing practice-squad players. We already told you the Bucs gave Rudy Carpenter a contract worth more than double what a typical practice-squad player makes.
But the Bucs now have topped that. Apparently, the team has a very high opinion of practice squad defensive end George Johnson. After he was released at the end of the preseason, the Bucs quickly turned around and signed him to a sweet deal on Sept. 8. Presumably fearing they would lose Johnson to another team’s practice squad, the Bucs signed Johnson to a contract worth $170,000. The typical practice-squad contract is for $96,900.
But the Bucs renegotiated Johnson’s deal on Sept. 13, according to contract records obtained by ESPN.com. That’s when Johnson got a raise to $22,059 per week, which comes to $352,944 for 16 weeks. Johnson is being paid at the same rate as the minimum for players on the regular 53-man roster. If he had signed the new contract before the first game, he’d be making the $370,000 minimum, spread out over 17 weeks (including the bye).
It’s not hard to figure out what happened here. Obviously, some team tried to sign Johnson away from the Bucs shortly after the Week 1 games. The Bucs turned around, told Johnson they wanted to keep him and showed it by paying him like he was on the regular roster.
Paying Carpenter and Johnson way more than the standard practice-squad salary is not an unprecedented move by general manager Mark Dominik. Last year, he paid receiver Dezmon Briscoe the minimum for players on the regular roster to lure him away from Cincinnati's practice squad. Briscoe started off last season on Tampa Bay's practice squad before being promoted later in the season. This year, he made the regular roster.