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On Friday, the Bucs restructured four contracts, freeing up $44 million in salary-cap space for 2023 season. This should bring them in line with next year's salary cap and give them more freedom to resign some of their pending free agents while also exploring external options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers are working diligently to stay under the salary cap as they gear up for the 2023 NFL season. On Friday, they restructured the contracts of four veteran players to free up $44 million in salary-cap space in 2023: Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis, receiver Chris Godwin and center Ryan Jensen.
Vea has established himself as an integral member of the Bucs' defensive line and proven to be an incredibly valuable player throughout his career. Last season he recorded 31 tackles (21 solo), five sacks, 12 QB hits and a forced fumble in 14 games. In January 2019 Vea inked a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the Bucs until 2026 season.
On Friday, Vea converted part of his $12.5 million base salary into a signing bonus to free up $9 million in salary-cap space. This marks the second time in succession that Vea has had to restructure his contract in order to free up this much cash.
Vea is an incredibly productive interior lineman who has helped the Bucs build one of the toughest defenses in the league. In his two seasons with the team, Vea has 6.5 sacks, 31 tackles and 13 QB hits to his credit.
Vea's versatility as a pass rusher and outside linebacker make him an invaluable asset to the Bucs' defense. He has played every snap since entering the NFL in 2014 and established himself as an invaluable member of their front seven.
The Bucs have continued to restructure veteran contracts in an effort to stay under the salary cap as they approach next week's NFL free agency period. They plan on releasing left tackle Donovan Smith and running back Leonard Fournette, while asking players like wide receiver Chris Godwin and cornerback Carlton Davis to contribute some of their salaries in order to save money for the Bucs.
The Bucs recently restructured four contracts to free up $44 million in salary-cap space, helping the team get closer to meeting its cap obligations. These restructures included wide receiver Chris Godwin (three years, $60 million), center Ryan Jensen (three years, $39 million) and cornerback Carlton Davis (three years, $44.5 million).
The team also reworked the contract of defensive tackle Vita Vea. Coming off a season in which he recorded 6.5 sacks, Vea is an exciting young talent with high potential - but his deal was highly expensive.
Vea is owed $12.5 million in 2023 and can easily be restructured to the league-minimum salary and bonus, saving him $10 million this year and an additional $8.8 million the following year (2024).
Money saved can then be used to restructure the contracts of other key players on the roster, like running back Leonard Fournette and tight end Cameron Brate. Doing so would give the Bucs around $54 million in cap room and give them room to sign free agents or pursue external candidates.
The Bucs also have the option to apply the franchise tag to wide receiver Chris Godwin, should they fail to reach an agreement. That would be the first step toward re-signing him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the midst of a successful offseason. They've already re-signed quarterback Tom Brady and brought back two veteran linebackers on one-year deals, as well as reworking the contracts of wide receivers Chris Godwin and Ryan Jensen, adding impact receiver Alex Cappa, and trading for former Falcons wideout Russell Gage.
Godwin was an integral part of the Buccaneers' Super Bowl victory last season and has been a mainstay on their depth chart ever since. Last year he set a career high with 98 receptions for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns before suffering a knee injury late in the game that ultimately ended his season.
Godwin has made strides in his professional career this season and appears to be re-establishing himself as one of the league's premier receivers. He has recorded at least eight grabs in three of the team's last five games and is just 32 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards for the third consecutive year, making him an extremely valuable PPR asset heading into Week 17 against the Panthers.
The 26-year-old receiver boasts excellent body control, which enables him to adjust quickly to the ball and block effectively against safeties and linebackers. Furthermore, his quickness in finding holes allows him to get to the quarterback quickly.
He has also demonstrated his ability to make plays in the red zone, with seven of his 10 catches leading to touchdowns this season. Furthermore, his versatility allows him to play multiple positions for the team's passing attack, making him an invaluable asset.
Mike Evans was sidelined for much of 2018 due to injury, so Godwin has become the go-to receiver in the offense as a reliable possession target. He's caught 65 out of 84 targets for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. Although Godwin doesn't possess Evans' size or speed, he still has the capacity to get open and make plays in tight quarters.
Godwin had already been designated for franchise tag before this season and recently signed a long-term deal with Tampa Bay. Entering his fourth season with the Bucs, Godwin has established himself as an impressive wide receiver who also plays well as a pass catcher and makes big plays out on the open field.
Due to Jameis Winston becoming a free agent, the Bucs have made four contract restructures to free up $44 million in salary-cap space. These restructures affect wide receivers Russell Gage and Breshad Perriman, guard Shaq Mason, and center Ryan Jensen.
Jensen began each of his four seasons with the Bucs at center, starting every game and missing only 43 offensive snaps over that span. At that time, Tampa Bay led all NFL teams in total yards, points scored per play, first downs made and third down percentage.
Jensen has always been a reliable performer, but his aggressive and mean-spirited attitude on the field suits Tampa Bay's defensive line perfectly. Last season he slammed Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso into the turf after hitting him late during a slide - an incident which generated tremendous fan enthusiasm and became viral video footage.
Jensen's restructured contract makes him among the highest-paid centers in the NFL, trailing only Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder at $10.5 million. It also serves as a significant boost for the Bucs who have had difficulty finding a starting center over the past few years.
On Friday, ESPN reported that the Bucs made numerous moves to free up salary-cap space before free agency begins. Other teams such as Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders have also restructured contracts in an effort to free up funds ahead of free agency.
On Saturday, the New York Jets released wide receiver Braxton Berrios to free up $5 million in cap space, per ESPN. They also restructured the contracts of cornerback Laken Tomlinson, wide receiver Tyler Conklin and safety D.J. Reed on Friday to free up additional cap room.
The Bucs' roster is projected to exceed the salary-cap limit this year by $57.2 million, and they have yet to find a viable solution for their tight end situation. In order to stay under cap this year, more restructures and extensions may need to be made.