Why trading Carlton Davis III is a huge win for the Bucs

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been focused on retaining most of their key free agents so far this offseason, but they made a splash move Monday that sent a key starter elsewhere via trade.

Cornerback Carlton Davis III is heading to the Detroit Lions, along with a pair of sixth-round draft picks, in return for a third-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

On the surface, this might seem like a puzzling move to some Bucs fans, as the team is creating a hole in their starting lineup by moving on from Davis. But if you look a little deeper, there are plenty of reasons why this draft is a massive win for general manager Jason Licht and his team.

Davis has been a quality starter at times throughout his tenure in Tampa Bay, but he’s also been limited by injuries, and has failed to create a ton of big plays. The former second-round pick out of Auburn has missed 16 games over the past three seasons due to injury, and only has nine career interceptions in six seasons with the Bucs.

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On the financial side of things, Davis was set to count $14.5 million against the salary cap in 2024, but with none of that money coming in the form of guarantees, the Bucs don’t have to take on any dead money by trading him to Detroit. That means they get to save that entire amount in salary cap space this season, giving them even more room to keep their best free agents, and even add a few new faces on the open market.

Davis was also heading into the final year of his current contract, and it’s rare that a team is able to get a third-round pick in return for an oft-injured player on an expiring deal.

Yes, this move creates a bigger need at corner, but Zyon McCollum made huge strides last year in his second season, and will likely get first crack at lining up across from Jamel Dean on the outside. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bucs invest an early draft pick in another talented corner, who would then be on a rookie contract for the next four years.

It’s hard to watch a key piece of Tampa Bay’s 2020 Super Bowl team head elsewhere, but in just about every way, this deal is a big victory for the Bucs.

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire