Munich/Tampa Bay – After the confusion surrounding the resignation of star quarterback Tom Brady, the current status is that the 44-year-old has not yet ended his career.
In addition, everything looks as if the announcement of the end of the career of the “GOAT” is only a matter of days.
Accordingly, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers inevitably have to deal with the time after Brady’s short, albeit very successful era in Florida.
And when it comes to cap space, things are not looking rosy at all, to say the least, with a view to the coming season and possibly also the competitiveness of the reigning Super Bowl champion beyond 2022.
Brady’s contract situation impacts Cap Space
Brady originally signed a two-year, $50 million deal with the Buccaneers in March 2020. After last season, he signed a contract reshuffle that saw $15 million of the $20 million signing bonus deferred until 2022, according to Spotrac.
If Brady were to retire this offseason, the Bucs will get $16 million back, according to USA Today.
Brady is projected to make $10,395,588 in 2022 on a cap hit of $20,270,588. If the 44-year-old resigns before June 2, the Buccaneers would have a whopping $32 million in dead cap.
According to the players’ union NFLPA, there are currently $189.992 million in cap commitments for the 2022 season with 46 players under contract and just over $1.425 million in cap space that will carry over to the 2022 league year.
The salary cap for 2022 is expected to be $208.2 million, which the NFL and NFLPA agreed to last May. Once 51 players are counted, Tampa Bay is expected to be $15.5 million below that cap for the upcoming season, according to CBS.
This does not leave ample scope for signing new players or extending expiring contracts. And when it comes to personnel decisions, there are plenty of discussions for the franchise.
Buccaneers facing far-reaching personnel decisions
Even if Brady were to return, the Buccaneers have plenty to do in the offseason to ensure they remain at the top of the NFC title contenders list.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin, tight end Rob Gronkowski and center Ryan Jensen are the most prominent names from a variety of players on the roster who will become free agents after the 2021 season concludes.
Godwin was awarded the Franchise Tag last season. The 25-year-old suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in December which should hurt his value and could be in the Bucs’ favor as they negotiate a long-term deal.
Veteran Jensen should find plenty of interest as it feels like every second team in the NFL wants to improve their offensive line, while Gronkowski’s fate is likely closely tied to Brady’s.
But even apart from the personal details mentioned, there is plenty of work for General Manager Jason Licht and Head Coach Bruce Arians. If those responsible in Tampa managed to “bring the band back together” before the season after winning the title, things are likely to be a lot trickier this time.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arians rule out rebuild
Keeping the winning squad together should still be a guiding principle for the team’s architects despite being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. In any case, Arians categorically rejected the idea of a complete “rebuild” after the playoff.
“It’s a fresh start, like every year,” Arians was quoted as saying on the team website less than 24 hours after leaving the postseason: “Our priority in free agency will be our players – let’s see how many we can bring back and then build a team from there.”
The Buccaneers currently have 25 players whose contracts expire in March and who have the appropriate league seasons to become unrestricted free agents.
With Godwin, running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, and “Gronk,” a lot of offensive power is affected. Besides Jensen with Alex Cappa also another important O-Liner.
Defense could lose cornerback Carlton Davis, safety Jordan Whitehead, defensive end Will Gholston, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, among others.
Buccaneers: Arians wants to calm down first
Head coach Arians wanted to use the time right on the day after the dramatic defeat against the Los Angeles Rams to talk to his players and also those farewell candidates. The trainer sounded basically positive: “The way they played, I doubt that anyone will want to do without it in the future.”
When asked about personal details like Brady and Gronkowski, Arians replied: “I think that with the current attitude (meaning the disappointment after the playoff, ed.) you can’t really make a decision. I would say we take take a break, relax, let the body heal and see where our thoughts and feelings are.”
And further: “We’ll take a few weeks and then we’ll see. I would say that in the next three, four, five weeks you should clear your head and process everything and then see where you stand. “
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