While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers set plans for quarterback after Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson requesting a trade could change things.
CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin listed the Bucs as a “logical” landing spot for Jackson, who recently announced his desire for the Baltimore Ravens to trade him. The superstar quarterback and former MVP posted a letter to fans on Monday, March 27, that he asked the Ravens on March 2 for a trade amid their contract dispute.
“Tom Brady is retired ‘for good,’ the Bucs aren’t fully pivoting to rebuild mode after three straight playoff runs, and Jackson would still have top weapons like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, not to mention while playing in his sunny home state,” Benjamin wrote. “Yes, they’re financially strapped, but that hasn’t stopped them before. And the low-cost investments in Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask shouldn’t prohibit them from considering a much bigger swing at the position.”
The Bucs officially signed Mayfield on March 20 but only for a year at $4 million with incentives. Trask has only 10 snaps of NFL regular season experience after sitting behind Brady for two seasons.
Jackson’s Asking Price versus Bucs’ Cap Space
Tampa Bay only has $4.28 million in salary cap space, per Spotrac, which means the Bucs would need to find creative ways to fit in Jackson without losing too many key players. Baltimore put Jackson on the non-exclusive franchise tag for $32.41 million this year, but he wants a bigger contract than what the Ravens will offer.
Jackson previously turned down a five-year, $250 million extension in 2022 according to multiple reports via CBS Sports. His asking price comes after the Cleveland Browns gave quarterback Deshaun Watson a five-year $230 million fully-guaranteed deal in 2022.
Bucs Would Need to Spread Jackson’s Cap Hit
USA Today’s Bucs Wire proposed that Tampa Bay would need to spread Jackson’s cap hit much like the Browns did with Watson.
“The key with guaranteed money is that, since the money is by definition guaranteed, it can be moved around and distributed however the team wishes,” Bucs Wire’s River Wells wrote. “The Browns did just that with Watson, as the cap hit for his first year in Cleveland was just under $10 million. That number increases to $19 million this year, but it absolutely soars to $64 million from 2024-26. That’s the most in the NFL, with the next closest, Denver’s Russell Wilson, set to take up around $59 million in 2026.”
“In theory, the Buccaneers could construct a similar concept for Lamar Jackson where the cap hit is dispersed to later years and a void year is perhaps added on at the end to lessen space as well,” Wells added. “Restructures could subsequently help clear up cap for 2023, as Jackson’s cap hit to start would probably be around $10 million or so.”
“This would make the cap hit in future years loom large, but [general manager] Jason Licht and cap expert Mike Greenberg could prepare for that beforehand,” Wells concluded. “It’s very unlikely that Tampa Bay will try to make this move, given that the team just signed quarterback Baker Mayfield, but hey — anything is possible.”
The Bucs moving on from a No. 1 pick quarterback for a superstar already happened once in recent years when the team signed Brady in 2020 and let Jameis Winston walk in free agency.