Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
It's never easy to admit to a mistake. It can be even harder if that mistake cost $47.5 million.
Guard Carl Nicks was signed by the Bucs in 2012 to form a juggernaut tandem with guard Davin Joseph. At the time, Nicks was considered one of the best guards in the league.
Obviously, the Bucs' plan didn't really pan out.
The Bucs run game suffered in 2013, averaging only 100.6 yards per game and ranking 22nd overall. Nicks played in only two games in 2013 and played in only nine games over the past two seasons.
Nicks was apparently damaged goods when he arrived in Tampa. His toe problems plagued him throughout the 2012 season and were further complicated in 2013 by a relentless MRSA infection.
Nicks' bad toe now threatens his career. Even if Nicks can persevere and play through the injury, can the Bucs count on Nicks moving forward?
The Bucs' situation at guard is tough. Nicks' contract guarantees him $31 million, the majority of his $47 million contract. Cutting him would have serious salary-cap implications.
Nicks' talent cannot be discounted, either. When he's on the field, Nicks is dominant.
The Bucs also have Joseph, who is coming off a knee injury that sidelined him during the 2012 season. He may not have come back fully healthy, as his play in 2013 was abysmal. His biggest contribution to the team is his leadership.
However, cutting Joseph would have few implications on the salary cap. While Joseph earns $7.5 million a year on average, he is owed no more guaranteed money.
Joseph's health likely guarantees his return for at least one more year. Nicks, on the other hand, may not be able to play football ever again.
With millions still guaranteed, the Bucs don't have much of a choice but to wait and see if Nicks can return to form. If not, it's likely his career is truly over and he could retire. The Bucs can only hope Nicks can prove that signing him was not a mistake.