- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Back in the preseason, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were getting grilled about why they weren’t spending big money in free agency, team officials kept explaining the team’s philosophy of building through the draft.
It made sense because the young team was coming off a 10-6 season and the implication from team officials was that we’d see some significant contract extensions during the season as the team began locking up some of its core young players for the long term.
Well, that hasn’t happened. Other than adding a year to safety Tanard Jackson’s contract while they were in London in October and quietly signing backup Rudy Carpenter to a modest two-year deal when they elevated him from the practice squad, the Bucs haven’t added on to any contracts.
Can’t blame them for that. When a team is losing eight straight games, there obviously aren’t many guys showing they deserve extensions. Running back LeGarrette Blount and receiver Mike Williams, two guys who could have been up for early extensions, haven’t been as productive as they were last season. Plus, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go signing players to extensions now when it’s uncertain if Raheem Morris will be coaching this team next season or a new coach with new schemes that could make some players irrelevant could be taking over.
With that in mind, let’s take a brief look ahead at Tampa Bay’s salary-cap situation for 2012. The Bucs currently have $92.873 million committed toward the cap. I’m seeing six other teams with less money committed toward the cap.
But you can pretty much go ahead and subtract $7.2 million from Tampa Bay’s figure. That’s the 2012 cap number for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who basically was signed as a “rental" player after Gerald McCoy suffered a season-ending injury. There’s at least a chance Haynesworth could be back with the Bucs, but it won’t be at the $7.2 million figure because McCoy is expected back healthy and Haynesworth is aging and hasn’t shown any big flashes. The Bucs could cut Haynesworth and not have to endure any salary-cap implications.
There could be some extensions after the season, but they won’t come until after the Bucs have sorted out their coaching situation and reviewed film of this season to see who showed talent and effort, so there might not be a lot of candidates.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 salary-cap figures (reminder, these are cap figures, not actual salary) for 2012 for the Buccaneers: