After Years of Inactivity, the Bucs Have Become the NFL's Big Spenders
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Move over Daniel Snyder and step aside Jerry Jones, the Glazers have assumed the role as the NFL's big spenders.
This comes after years of toiling with mid-level or bottom-of-the-barrel free agents, particularly the Cato Junes and Charlie Garners of the football world. Worse yet, they allowed countless of their own homegrown talent, such as Barrett Ruud and Warrick Dunn, to walk away and sign elsewhere as free agents.
But that, my friends, appears to be a thing of the past.
When receiver Mike Williams inked his five-year extension on Wednesday morning, a deal valued at $40.25 million over the next six years, it marked the fifth such deal valued at more than $40 million that the Bucs have doled out over the past 16 months.
Williams' extension also marks the fourth notable re-signing the Bucs have made since 2010, joining guard Davin Joseph (7-years/$52.5 million), tackle Donald Penn (6-years/$41.7 million) and center Jeremy Zuttah (4-years/$16.3 million).
Think about that for a moment—an organization that is most synonymous for a winking pirate on its helmet, apparently stumbled upon a treasure chest of cash sometime after the unceremonious departure of former head coach Raheem Morris.
The four other deals I originally referenced include Darrelle Revis (6-years/$96 million), Vincent Jackson (5-years/$55.5 million), Carl Nicks (5-years/$47.5 million) and Dashon Goldson (5-years/$41.25 million), which, when added with Williams' deal, total $280.5 million.
Now I know what you're thinking: "But they're not guaranteed..." Which is true, but it certainly illustrates a sudden—and noticeable—change in attitude from the owner's box.
Furthermore, it appears to have quieted those that suggested the Glazers, who also own soccer superpower Manchester United of the English Premier League, were intentionally neglecting the Bucs so that they could dedicate more financial resources to the soccer-side of their business empire.
Mind you, handing out large contracts, particularly in free agency, is seldom an express pass to an NFL championship.
Snyder, who purchased the Redskins in 1999, became the poster child of free-agency failures due to the questionable signings the 'Skins became known for under his guidance.
Years and years of thoughtless spending over a good portion of the last decade bared little, if any, return on investment for Snyder and the 'Skins, who have won just one playoff game since 1999 and only twice in the last 20 years.
That's not to say Bucs fans should be alarmed, however, as the Glazers, and general manager Mark Dominik specifically, have taken on free agency with much more reserve and patience than the aforementioned Snyder did.
You may recall last year's free agency splurge that landed Jackson, Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright. Initially, the contracts were front loaded and largely only included guaranteed money over the first two years of the deals.
Wright, whose failed drug test last year voided the remaining guarantees in his contract, was ultimately cut last week, costing the Bucs little more than time and effort to rid themselves of his troubles.
Nicks and Jackson, on the other hand, received accelerated bonuses at the very end of the 2012 season which lowered their cap numbers for this season, but actually increased them over the final four seasons of their respective deals, but not to levels the Bucs felt uncomfortable with.
Revis' deal included no guaranteed money, only workout and other performance-based bonuses. So, if the Revis experiment fails in a year or two, the Bucs are off the hook and would avoid any cap penalties for parting ways.
Much like Nicks and Jackson, Goldson's deal only includes guaranteed money over roughly the first two seasons.
How comfortable are you with the Bucs' recent spending habits?
All of his 2013 and 2014 salaries are guaranteed (roughly $10.5 million), plus $3 million of his scheduled $7.5 million 2015 salary, as well as a $4.5 million roster bonus he received earlier this season. All told, of his $41.25 million contract, only $18 million is guaranteed.
To Dominik's credit, his cautious approach to free agency (with Wright being the lone exception thus far) has positioned the Bucs to be a sustained force for the foreseeable future.
Throw in a handful of cap-friendly draft gems such as running back Doug Martin and linebackers Lavonte David and Mason Foster, and they have, on paper at least, many of the pieces to the proverbial puzzle.
How well they're prepared and how they fare come Sundays, on the other hand, is still a major question mark at this point.
Which is, of course, contingent upon Dominik's other noteworthy free-agent signing.
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