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Will the Bucs use the franchise tag in 2023?

No.

I mean, come on.

Have you seen what the Bucs are dealing with this offseason?

After three years of kicking the can down the road with the salary cap, it’s finally time for Tampa Bay to pay the bill.

What does that look like?

It looks like being a projected $55 million over the salary cap, with a list of 23 free agents, and only Kyle Trask under contract at quarterback.

The Bucs have massive holes on both sides of the ball, no money to re-sign they’re best free agents, which means even less money to find replacements for any of them. Tampa Bay will have to make some uncomfortable cuts, and a few carefully chosen restructures, just to get under the cap in the first place.

That makes it extremely unlikely that they would saddle themselves with the massive one-year cost of using the franchise tag on anyone who might be worthy of it.

The prime candidate would be cornerback Jamel Dean, who should have plenty of suitors on the open market who will easily be able to pay him more than the Bucs can afford. If the Bucs could make $18 million per year work for Dean, they’d just sign him to a long-term deal anyway.

Speaking of that price tag, here are the numbers:

Are the Bucs really going to spend $18 million next year for Dean or Sean Murphy-Bunting? $14 million for Mike Edwards? $20 million for Lavonte David or Anthony Nelson?

Not a chance.

The Bucs will have to get plenty creative in the coming weeks, as they do their best to manage the cap, and put themselves in position to field as competitive of a team as possible, while also getting back to their more frugal ways of operating.

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire