Despite coming out of a $58.5 million salary cap deficit, the Bucs found a way to re-sign Dean to a four-year, $52 million contract. Bucs safety Logan Ryan, also a free agent, praised the move and highlighted Dean’s off-field dedication to studying game film.
“People know Jamel Dean got the size and track speed. But they don’t see all the extra work he put in. Extra film sessions [plus] crazy note taker. He came prepared and it paid off! Love to see it,” Ryan tweeted. “Buccaneers got them corner pieces.”
It took creativity for the Bucs to fit Dean under the cap with his new contract, which KPRC’s Aaron Wilson broke down. Dean will only count for $4.376 million against the salary cap this year, according to Over The Cap, amid his $24.5 million guaranteed. The Bucs will pay Dean $1.08 million for 2023, but he will also receive a $11.42 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year. In 2024, he will receive the rest of his guaranteed $24.5 million with his $12 million salary — $3 million of which will kick in on the third day of the 2024 league year.
Dean will also receive a $29,412 active roster bonus for each game in 2023 through 2026, Wilson reported. After 2024, Dean will make $12.5 million in 2025 and $13 million in 2026.
While the Bucs will pay Dean a fully guaranteed $24.5 million through 2024, the Bucs could part ways from him in 2025 if needed. Dean will only count as a $5.7 million dead cap hit that year and a $2.85 million dead cap hit in 2025.
A Worthy Investment for Bucs
Dean had a productive first four seasons with the Bucs amid 38 career starts. He has seven interceptions, 41 pass deflections, 156 tackles, and a fumble in 57 games played.
He also has remained durable in that span with 13 or more games played per season. A foot injury in December 2022 sidelined Dean after 15 games played, but he returned for the Wild Card game against the Dallas Cowboys in January.
The Bucs selected Dean in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft after a stellar college career at Auburn. Dean helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl in the 2020 season followed by back-to-back NFC South division titles in 2021 and 2022.
Bucs Were Unlikely to Re-Sign Dean
Considered the fifth-rated free agent by Pro Football Focus, Dean appeared to be headed elsewhere with the Bucs mired in $58.5 million over the salary cap before the new league year. During the NFL Combine, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles acknowledged that other teams would be looking at Dean.
“This is certainly something that was not considered to be likely just a couple of days ago, but considering the pull of this Bucs organization and considering this is where Jamel Dean wanted to be, it was all about finding the right price,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Monday.
The Score’s Jordan Schultz reported that Dean “turned down more money to stay home and play with the Bucs” this year and beyond. Tampa Bay keeping Dean graded well among the experts with an ‘A’ or better from The Athletic, Sports Illustrated, and Sporting News.