TAMPA – Buccaneers fans surely remember that guard J.R. Sweezy, one of the key newcomers signed in free agency last spring, never played a down for Tampa Bay last season.
Well, the Bucs expect Sweezy to play a lot of downs for them this year, but in the event that his back flares up again and he can’t, the Bucs have created some protection for themselves by restructuring his contract.
Sweezy originally signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal with the Bucs and while ESPN reported that the new deal could be worth as much as $35 million, sources have told FloridaFootballInsiders that’s not the case.
Sweezy can still make no more than $32.5 million max in the restructured version of the contract and his total payout for the 2017 season does not increase at all but stays at $5 million.
The differences is in how Sweezy can earn that $5 million. For starters, his $3.75 million 2017 base salary continues to be guaranteed against injury but not a recurrence of the back issues that sidelined him last year.
Second, in order to make the $5 million, Sweezy will have to earn the remaining $1.25 million through playing time incentives.
According to Field Yates of ESPN, the new deal also includes injury waiver language, split salaries for the next three seasons and base salaries for Sweezy in 2018, 2019 and 2020 that are $1.25 million less than they were in his original deal.
Now, Sweezy can earn that money back through salary escalators each year but in order to do so he has to play at least 70-percent of the snaps either in the season prior or the current season.
All in all it looks like a pretty good deal for both sides, and we can tell you right now that Sweezy will get a chance to earn all that extra cash as the Bucs still have big plans for him.
A right guard his entire career in Seattle, Sweezy was slated to move to left guard when he first arrived in Tampa but the Bucs have plans to “experiment” with Sweezy at right guard and Ali Marpet at center this offseason.
The Bucs will also experiment with Sweezy at left guard and Kevin Pamphile at center or right tackle this spring so don’t be surprised if come training camp, the Bucs O-line has a whole new look to it.