Tampa Bay Buccaneers: salary cap room

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to find out early how good they are. After opening the schedule at home against Carolina and St. Louis, they have a three-game stretch of road games against teams that should be good. The string starts on a Thursday night at Atlanta. Next is a Sept. 28 game at Pittsburgh, followed by an Oct. 5 game at New Orleans. That's a huge early test for a team that has a new coaching staff and lots of new players. If the Bucs don't win at least one of those three games, they could fall out of playoff contention early.

Complete Bucs season preview.

Checking in on the salary cap

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
The recent news that the 2014 salary cap will be slightly higher than expected is nothing but a positive for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The cap will be $130 million and that means the Buccaneers are in good shape. They currently have 60 players under contract and the top 51 cap figures (which are all that count in the offseason) come to $114.2 million.

That means the Bucs have a good chunk of cap room to work with and they can use free agency to narrow their needs before the draft. But the Bucs could end up having even more room than they currently do. They could extend the contract of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and lower his cap figure ($15.6 million) for this year.

Also, as we mentioned earlier, the Bucs could decide to part ways with some high-priced veterans, such as offensive linemen Donald Penn and Davin Joseph. Another name to keep an eye on is punter Michael Koenen. He’s dependable, but he has a $3.25 million cap figure, which is high for a punter.

Looking at Buccaneers' cap situation

September, 5, 2013
Wednesday was a key day for salary-cap purposes. Each team’s cap commitment switched from the top 51 players to all players that count against the cap, including dead money.

With that in mind, let’s check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cap situation.

They now are $10.2 million under this year’s cap. They might have to tap into that room if they have some injuries, but I wouldn’t expect any major signings.

The Bucs will do one of two things with the cap space they have remaining for this year. They’ll either carry it over to next season, a maneuver they’ve used in the past. Or they’ll eat up cap space for this year by restructuring the contracts of cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson to lower their cap figures for next season. The Bucs made a similar move last year when they restructured Vincent Jackson's and Carl Nicks' contracts of at the end of the season.

Either way, the Bucs are likely to free up somewhere close to $10 million for next year’s cap. As it stands right now, the Bucs have $114.5 million committed to 40 players toward the 2014 cap, which is likely to be around $123 million.

That means the Bucs will have plenty of flexibility if they decide to lock up quarterback Josh Freeman for the long term. The good news is the Bucs don’t have a lot of other key players headed toward free agency.

Of the projected starters for this season, linebacker Dekoda Watson and fullback Erik Lorig are the only players besides Freeman that can become free agents in 2014.