Bucs have big edge on NFC South opponents in one key area
The Bucs technically finished fourth in the four-team NFC South once all tiebreakers were applied, dropping them to last place for a second straight season.
But in terms of the offseason, where success is measured by whether a team is able to improve its roster, the Bucs appear to have a distinct upper hand.
Something the Bucs have been tracking for months is the cap situations of their NFC South competitors, and the reality is the Bucs have a sizable lead when it comes to best cap situation.
Tampa Bay, as we’ve told you, will be well under the salary cap once the figure is determined – perhaps more than $30 million under.
But that is hardly the case for their NFC South counterparts, the Saints, Falcons and Panthers.
Carolina center Ryan Kalil, according to a report this morning, has restructured his contract to create more than $2 million in cap space – the kind of move will be repeated many times over in this division in the weeks to come.
The Panthers are more than $10 million over the salary cap, which is projected to be in the $120 million range. They’ll have to make further moves to get in compliance and might part with some well-known players.
In New Orleans, the Saints have a dicier situation, with more than $140 million committed to the 2013 cap. This raises many questions about roster cuts that might become necessary, with players such as Will Smith and Jon Vilma in jeopardy there.
And in Atlanta, the Falcons are just under the cap, with about $2 million in cap space. That won’t allow them much wiggle room to sign the likes of free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes and could prompt some player releases.
Meanwhile, any releases the Bucs make won’t be purely economic decisions because the salary cap isn’t an issue for Tampa Bay. That makes the Bucs imminently more flexible entering the offseason than their primary competitors.