The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have kept their core intact this offseason, in part by pushing money into the future with void years.
According to GM Jason Licht, the mechanism to kick the salary-cap hits down the road doesn’t have the Bucs worried they’ll be handcuffed in future seasons.
“There are some corrections that are going to have to take place at some point down the road, but we’re not putting ourselves in a position where next year we have to release a lot of good players,” Licht said. “We’re going to be in good shape if we continue to just make sure that we make smart decisions and we do things right. We’re going to be competing for years to come.”
The Bucs managed to retain all 22 starters from their Super Bowl-winning roster, an unheard-of accomplishment in today’s NFL.
Tampa was fortunate Tom Brady was willing to sign an extension that helped push his hit down the road. Other potential free agents also were accommodating in adding years to keep the Bucs’ core intact. Void years have been a popular method of controlling the salary-cap hits this year, but it isn’t a new phenomenon.
“That’s been something that’s been done for a long time with different teams, and you see it too this year,” the GM said. “A lot of teams are using it this year. It’s something that we’ve talked about for a few years here in terms of our cap situation, our future cap situation, the way we’ve done contracts. We’ve said if we ever get to a point where we have a really good team, an excellent team like we have, and we need to start doing this, using the voidable years and kicking it down the road a little bit, then we would. We were in a position where we were able to do it this year.”
With the salary cap expected to rise significantly down the road, teams like Tampa have little fear that they’ll be restricted in future seasons. When a Super Bowl team’s championship window is open like it is in Tampa, going all-in is the right move. For Licht, that meant retaining a ton of players from a team that won its final eight games.
Other tidbits from Licht’s media appearance Thursday:
- The GM noted that the club would pick up the fifth-year option on Vita Vea’s contract. Even with options becoming guaranteed when exercised — as opposed to past years when they were guaranteed for injury only — making the move with Vea is a no-brainer. The injury that wiped out most of his 2020 season is in the past, and his return for the postseason was a significant factor in the Bucs hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
- Licht said Brady’s rehab from a knee cleanup is going well. The GM told NFL Network’s James Palmer that he didn’t want to put a date on it to set any expectations but knows it’s going very well.
- With the 32nd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Licht noted his club is in a position where it doesn’t have to draft for need and can take the best player available. Getting younger on the defensive line is a priority, but not one that Licht believes is a must. With the last pick in the first round, the GM said all possibilities remain on the table, save one: “I guess I’ll say I won’t take a kicker,” Licht quipped.
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