The offensive line and the salary cap

On paper, Tampa Bay’s offensive line was supposed to be one of the best in the league in 2013. In reality, it didn’t come anywhere close to that.

Both the run and pass blocking left a lot to be desired. With a new coaching staff coming in, there almost certainly will be some changes up front.

Performance won’t be the only thing taken into account. The five projected starters are taking up more than $27 million in 2014 cap space. This didn’t look like anything close to a $27 million line last season.

Let’s take a look at each member of the line and individual cap situations.

Left tackle Donald Penn. He turns 31 in April and is carrying the highest cap figure on the offensive line -- $8.083 million. Quality left tackles aren’t easy to find, but the Bucs could be looking out for one in free agency or the draft. If they released Penn, he would count only $333,333 against the salary cap.

Guard Davin Joseph. He’s 30 and coming off a tough season. Joseph was coming off knee surgery and didn’t look like the player he was in the past. Joseph is scheduled to have a $6 million cap figure. There would be no cap charge if the Bucs released Joseph.

Guard Carl Nicks. He missed all but two games last season. It remains to be seen if Nicks can get back to full health. But, assuming he can return, Nicks isn’t going anywhere. He’s scheduled to count $7 million against the cap and $6 million of that is guaranteed.

Center Jeremy Zuttah. He turns 28 in June. With coach Greg Schiano and the Rutgers connection gone, Zuttah isn’t a lock to stick around. He has a $4.5 million cap figure and the Bucs could free up that full amount by releasing Zuttah.

Right tackle Demar Dotson. He’s the safest bet on the offensive line to stick around. Dotson has a $2 million cap figure with $1.25 million of that guaranteed.