First it was Vincent Jackson yesterday, and now three of the top free agents this year will be playing their home games on a field with a pirate ship. That alone would be enough to secure my commitment.
Adam Schefter reports that the Bucs have done more than just sign Carl Nicks. They’ve made him the league’s highest paid guard with a five-year contract worth $47.5 million, $31 million of which is guaranteed.
While it’ll be up to Jackson to become Josh Freeman’s reliable target and relieve the pressure on young Mike Williams, the acquisition of Nicks functions as a move that fortifies and strengthens a relatively efficient unit. The Bucs’ offensive line ranked 10th overall after allowing 32 sacks, at they also allowed the fifth fewest QB hits (64).
Jackson and Nicks are the marquee players and two of the most prominent names available on the open market, but Eric Wright, one of the top free agent cornerbacks, was also signed by Tampa GM Mark Dominik earlier this morning. Wright is just 26, and he had four interceptions last year for the Lions, making him a more than capable replacement for Ronde Barber, who’s contemplating retirement.
And so begins and likely ends the Bucs’ spending spree we anticipated, which is the proper behavior for a team that won only four games, fired its head coach, and entered free agency with $42.7 million in salary cap room. With Wright’s contract reportedly valued at $37.5 million over five years with $15.5 million guaranteed, the combined cap hit in 2012 of these three major signings is still just roughly $28 million.
We hauled out our trusty free agency abacus again, and it says that the Bucs still have $14.5 million to work with against the cap. That’s a lot of beads.