The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not have quarterback Tom Brady suiting up in a Bucs’ uniform in 2023, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be on their payroll.
Thanks to contract negotiations with Brady in 2022, Tampa Bay has $35 million in “dead money” that needs to be covered in the next two seasons. Dead money refers to a “salary cap charge for a player that is no longer on a team’s roster. The charge continues to count even though the contract of the player has been terminated or traded,” according to 33rd Team.
“Tom Brady retiring as an impact on the Bucs’ salary cap, but it’s much better than if he signed elsewhere,” tweeted Fox Sports’ Greg Auman on February 1. “There is $35 million in ‘dead money’ counting against the cap, but the Bucs should be able to process that such that only $11 million counts in 2023 and $24 million in 2024.”
Already, the Buccaneers are expected to be $55 million over the league’s salary cap for each team, which is $224.8 million. According to a January 30 tweet by Spotrac, only the New Orleans Saints are in a tougher situation in regard to the salary cap.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Have 22 Other Free Agents
With Brady retiring, he technically becomes a free agent, joining 22 other Buccaneers players who will be free to sign elsewhere once free agency starts in March.
Among the biggest names on that list is Lavonte David, who has been one of the premier off-ball linebackers during his 11 seasons with the Buccaneers. He has registered a combined 1,346 tackles, 29 sacks, 27 forced fumbles and 12 interceptions during his career.
David, who is expected to make $9.7 million next season, according to Spotrac, is likely to be pursued by the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, according to a January 13 story by Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox.
Other notable unrestricted free agents are wide receiver Julio Jones, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, cornerback Jamel Dean, safety Keanu Neal, offensive lineman Aaron Stinnie and outside linebacker Anthony Nelson.
The Bucs will “have to get even more creative with the salary cap if they want to have room to sign any of those players or replace them with veterans on the open market,” USA Today’s Luke Easterling wrote on January 30. “It looks like the Bucs might be staring down a potential rebuild.”
How Did the ‘Dead Money’ Reach $35 Million?
Brady signed with the Buccaneers in 2020 for two years and $50 million and then led the team to a Super Bowl title that season. In March 2021, he signed a one-year extension, effectively creating a new two-year deal that would take him through the 2022 season. Then, he restructured his salary in April 2022 to help the Buccaneers in the short term by freeing up $9 million of added cap space.
“Mini-thread here about Tom Brady’s re-worked contract with Bucs. Not much different in overall pay. He was due to be a free agent next spring, and still is. This contract has a no-tag clause, but his previous ones with Bucs did, as did last Patriots deal, so that’s nothing new,” tweeted Auman.
“Now Brady’s voidable years and cap savings will create considerable dead money under the 2023 salary cap for Bucs: $35.1 million as it stands. If he retires or signs an extension before March, that can be split between 2023 and 2024 to make it more manageable,” added Auman on Twitter.