It’s the reality of free agency in the NFL. You’re just not going to be able to keep all the players that you want to retain. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers experienced this in the early stages of free agency Monday. Specifically, one of their hard-working popular players simply cost too much for the to keep, as Adam Humphries got his money from somewhere else.
Humphries got his massive contract raise from the Tennessee Titans, who have former Buccaneers executive John Robinson, as their general manager:
Source says four years, $36 million for Adam Humphries in Tennessee.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 11, 2019
While on the surface it seems as though the Bucs should have been able to make a similar deal with Humphreys to keep him as a go-to guy for quarterback Jameis Winston to move the chains and score in the red zone, there simply isn’t an wasn’t enough money to go around.
Consider that the Bucs began Monday worst in the NFL at $2 million over the salary cap. And, it was understood that Humphries was going to get a contract of at least $7-8 million dollars per season. Humphries had at least 50 catches for an 11 yard average and eight total TDs over the last three seasons.
And, at the same time Tampa Bay was trying to trade (and eventually did find a deal with the Eagles) for DeSean Jackson. That freed up $10 million off the 2019 cap.
However, they couldn’t just give that money to Humphries, as they were also try to negotiate to keep free agent linebacker Kwon Alexander. Alexander ended up agreeing to a huge raise himself at $12 million per season with the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers are obviously taking a risk with Alexander having suffered a torn ACL last season and not expected to be fully recovered until the start of 2019. Still, Bucs fans were filling up the sports radio airwaves and social media with complaints that those two popular players couldn’t be kept.
Yet, the Bucs are no different than the Dolphins having to release players like receiver Danny Amendola or the Jaguars having to cut loose defensive starters and popular players Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson for salary cap reasons, too.
You simply cannot keep them all, especially if you have several high price players demanding much of your salary cap. The Buccaneers have that for 2019 with Winston now making over $20 million on the 5th year option of his rookie deal.
You add to that the massive deal receiverMike Evans got last year in free agency and players like Jason Pierre-Paul and Gerald McCoy on the defensive line making around $13 million each, and there simply isn’t enough to go around.
Now, the Bucs drafted speedy Ivy league receiver Justin Watson a year ago, and he was active and saw some playing time throughout the season. They believe that Watson can develop into being that underneath or slot receiver that Humphries has been the last four years.
Tampa Bay probably has the bigger question mark at linebacker without Alexander and with the possibility the 2017 rookie Kendell Beckwith may not be able to play again, because of the broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in April of 2018 that kept him out all of last season.
Yes, the Buccaneers will have time to address all of that in the upcoming NFL Draft or with another modest free agent or two coming soon.
That is unless ,they make a surprising large salary cap release move in the next couple of days. And that could still happen.
For now, it’s still a fresh wound losing the popular players like Monday.
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