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Buccaneers' Updated Cap Space After Tom Brady Restructures Contract

Adam WellsApril 23, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) calls a play against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
AP Photo/Jason Behnken

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will now be able to sign their incoming rookie class without concern about going over the salary cap. 

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Tom Brady restructured his contract to create more than $9 million in cap space for the team. 

The move still allows Brady to become a free agent after the 2022 season. 

Per Spotrac, Brady now has the third-highest cap hit on the team ($11.199 million) and the Bucs are $13.84 million under the cap. 

Prior to the restructuring, Schefter noted the Buccaneers' $4.4 million in cap space was the sixth-lowest mark in the NFL. 

Tampa Bay now ranks 14th in cap space. The team made aggressive moves last offseason to bring back all 22 starters from Super Bowl 55. Some of that was aided by the salary cap going down because of lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning virtually every team was unable to offer a significant contract to free agents. 

With the cap going up to $208.2 million this season, an increase of $25.7 million from 2021, teams had more freedom to hand out lucrative deals. Alex Cappa, O.J. Howard, Ronald Jones and Jordan Whitehead all left to sign with new clubs in free agency. 

Of course, Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht didn't just sit on his hands this offseason. He re-signed 11 players, including Chris Godwin, signed Russell Gage, Keanu Neal and Logan Ryan as free agents and acquired Shaq Mason in a trade with the New England Patriots. 

There are still two key starters for the Bucs on the free-agent market. Rob Gronkowski told TMZ Sports on April 5 he's "not ready to commit" to playing in 2022. 

If Gronkowski does return, the Buccaneers seem like the only team he would play for. The five-time Pro Bowler has only ever played with Brady as his quarterback. 

Ndamukong Suh, who has started 55 straight games between the regular season and playoffs for Tampa, is still available. The 35-year-old seemed to hint he would be interested in returning to the Bucs based on his comment after Todd Bowles was hired as head coach:

Ndamukong Suh @NdamukongSuh

Congrats to Todd Bowles on becoming head coach of a great team that still feels one man light on talent 👀

Suh is more expendable for the Bucs than Gronkowski. They already have Vita Vea on the interior defensive line, and they could potentially add a defensive tackle early in the 2022 NFL draft. 

Georgia's Devonte Wyatt could be an option for Tampa Bay with the No. 27 pick if Licht and Bowles want to find Suh's replacement. 

The Buccaneers currently have six picks in the draft. including one in each of the first four rounds. They traded their fifth-round pick to the Patriots for Mason in March. Their sixth-rounder was sent to the New York Jets in a midseason trade for defensive tackle Steve McLendon in 2020. 

Regardless of what happens the rest of this offseason, the biggest move for Tampa Bay was Brady's decision to unretire. The 44-year-old finished second in NFL MVP voting last season after leading the league with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns.