The Buccaneers front office worked their off-season magic again as four players agreed to restructure their contracts to help the team get to the salary cap of 224.8 Million dollars by the 4PM deadline on March 15th.
Five Buccaneers Restructure Contracts
Defensive tackle Vita Vea, Cornerback, Carlton Davis, Wide receiver Chris Godwin, and center Ryan Jensen all agreed to restructure their contracts which will convert most of their 2023 salaries into bonuses for the upcoming season.
Wide receiver Russell Gage also agreed to a pay cut, but will have the opportunity to earn most of his money back through performance incentives.
Gage underwhelmed in his first season with the Buccaneers and was hampered by injuries. Playing in just 13 games, Gage caught 51 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns.
Under the new deal, Gage will get the NFL veteran minimum of 1.08 Million dollars, and will receive 5.29 million in bonues., bringing the contract total to $7 million guranteed.
In his press conference at the scouting combine, Jason Licht talked about Russell Gage and his performance last season.
“Russell had experienced a difficult year because of the injury. He’s not used to being injured. This is the first time that he had been injured, and he did step up late in the year and made some big plays for us in some big moments.
“I would say, you know, we were expecting more, but I don’t think it was because of Russ. I think it was because of the injury.”
Gage is signed for $10 million dollars for the 2024 season.
The Buccaneers have already announced that they will be relasing running back Leonard Fournette, tackle Donovan Smith, and tight end Cameron Brate.
Although the relase of these players will free up significant cap room, The team team cannot officailly release the players until after the NFL New Year begins on March 15th at 4PM.
The Bucs could use some of the cap space to resign linebacker Lavonte David who will be a free agent.
Will Baker Mayfield Be A Buccaneer?
One of the biggest decisions the Buccaneers will make will be to decide who they will bring in to compete with Kyle Trask at Quarterback.
Numerous quarterbacks have had their name linked to the Buccaneers quarterback position, but Baker Mayfield seems to the name that is talked about the most as possibly coming to Tampa.
Mayfield played with Carolina and the Los Angeles Rams last season, and is now a free agent.
Mayfield’s best season, was in 2020, when he took the the Browns into Pittsburgh and humiliated the Steelers 48-37.
Buccaneers Remake Offensive Line
The other big question mark is along the offensive line. With Smith not coming back, their has been talk about moving Tristan Wirfs to the left tackle spot which Smith has held down since 2015.
The Bucs Made some other moves along the offensive line, moving on from All-Pro guard Shaq Mason after just one year in Tampa, as Mason was sent to Houston for a sixth round draft pick.
That is line with what Jason Licht spoke about at combine, saying the Buccaneers wanted to get younger. They did that by dealing Mason and will also save five million doillars against the cap.
Either way, the Bucs will need to invest heavily in the offensive line. They will need at least one starting tackle and will need to add some much needed depth.
After the Mason trade, the Bucs sigend guard Aaron Stinnie to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million dollars. The Bucs were high on Stinnie before he missed all of last season with a torn MCL and ACL.
The team also signed Nick Leverett a one year deal.
On the defensive line there are only two players Vita Vea, and Logan Hall returning from last year’s team. Rakeem Nunez-Roches has already departed signing a three -year deal with the new York Giants
Buccaneers Resign Jamel Dean
The Buccaneers surprised everyone by signing corner back Jamel Dean to a four year $52 million deal with $26 million guranteed. The deal assures Bucs fans that the starting corner tandem of Jamel Dean, and Carlton Davis will stay together for the upcoming season.
Dean was the fifth best free agent available according to PFF. Dean had two interceptions and eight passes defended in 15 games with the Buccaneers last season.
Expect more news to break over the next couple of days with the NFL New Year beginning March 15th at 4PM.