Tampa Bay Buccaneers salary cap outlook: 2013 is an important season for Josh Freeman

Brian McIntyre
Shutdown Corner

The "Shutdown Countdown" is going full steam ahead. In addition to previewing each team, "Shutdown Corner" will be taking a brief look at each team's salary cap situation heading into the 2013 season and beyond. We continue the series with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2013 Adjusted Cap Number: $134.218 million (7th-highest adjusted cap number of the league)

2013 Cap Room Remaining: $18.23 million (5th-most cap space in the NFL, as of July 17, 2013)

[Related: Late-season collapse clouds Buccaneers' prospects for 2013]

Best Bargain: During the 2012 NFL draft, the Buccaneers traded back into the first-round to select Boise State running back Doug Martin with the No. 31 overall pick. Martin signed four-year, $6,787,528 contract that included $5,471,956 in guaranteed money. Over $3.7 million, or 55 percent of the total value of the contract, was paid out in 2012 and it's hard to argue that Martin wasn't worth every penny. Martin earned the starting nod over LeGarrette Blount and ran for 1,454 yards, the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL last season. Martin added 11 rushing touchdowns and caught 49 passes for 472 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield and was added to the Pro Bowl roster. Martin was second among NFL running backs in both offensive snaps played (821) and offensive playing-time percentage (78.27 percent) and, according to Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, was ninth with 157 rushing DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement).

A lot of pixels were spilled in 2012 debating what Martin's nickname (the "Muscle Hamster" that was bestowed upon him is terrible) should be. Here's a new one for him: "Bargain". Martin will earn $698,524 in fully guaranteed base salary this season with a cap charge of $1,542,620. Over 60 NFL running backs will earn more cash than Martin will this season — including San Francisco 49ers fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore, who is unlikely to suit up until 2014 — but few will be as productive.

Potential Camp Cap Casualty: The Buccaneers have plenty of cap space, so there's no reason for the cap to come into play when shaping the 53-man roster. The one player who might have found himself on the bubble is Eric Wright, who voided the fully guaranteed clause on his $7.75 million base salary for the 2013 seasons when he was suspended for four games last season for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy. In April, Wright took a $6.25 million pay cut and will earn $1.5 million in base salary, which is currently non-guaranteed.

Looming Contract Issue: Quarterback Josh Freeman is entering the final season of a five-year rookie contract that will pay him $8.43 million in base salary this season. Freeman has had his ups and downs during his four seasons with the Buccaneers. In his second season, Freeman tossed 25 touchdowns against just six interceptions and was among the Top 10 in Football Outsiders' passing DYAR. Over the last two seasons, however, Freeman has nearly as many interceptions (39) as touchdowns (43) and his completion percentage dropped by eight points in his first season in a Mike Sullivan-coordinated offense that features more deep throws. The Buccaneers used a 2013 third-round pick on North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon, so the pressure is definitely on Freeman to produce and earn an extension.

[Related: Bucs kicker Connor Barth out for season]

The Buccaneers will also have to address the contract of wide receiver Mike Williams, a 2010 fourth-round pick out of Syracuse who has 193 receptions for 2,731 yards and 23 touchdowns in his 48-game career with the Buccaneers. Williams is slated to earn $630,000 in base salary in 2013 and the status of talks towards an extension was a main storyline during the Buccaneers' OTAs and minicamp. The Buccaneers are thin at the receiver position and will need a focused Williams this season and beyond.

Long-Term Cash/Cap Outlook: The Buccaneers currently have around $120 million in salary cap commitments for the 2014 season, but there are several players with large base salaries who the team could turn to create additional cap space next offseason. Darrelle Revis, Gerald McCoy and Vincent Jackson each have base salaries exceeding $10 million, safety Dashon Goldson is due $9 million in fully guaranteed compensation ($6 million base salary, $3 million roster bonus) and a trio of offensive lineman (Donald Penn, Davin Joseph, Carl Nicks) are due over $6 million in cash compensation in 2014. The Buccaneers have become a "pay as you go" team — the $3.769 million in signing/option bonuses they've issued in 2013 is the lowest amount in the NFL, and by a wide margin — so any restructures of those deals should not be expected to take place until 2014.

In recent Buccaneers' salary cap news, the club announced on Tuesday that Mike Greenberg had been promoted from coordinator of football administration to director of football administration. Greenberg has aided GM Mark Dominik in the team's contract negotiations and salary cap management.

Previous salary cap outlooks

32. Oakland Raiders
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Arizona Cardinals
29. Buffalo Bills
28. Cleveland Browns
27. Tennessee Titans
26. Kansas City Chiefs
25. New York Jets
24. San Diego Chargers
23. Philadelphia Eagles
22. Miami Dolphins
21. St. Louis Rams
20. Minnesota Vikings

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