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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs saved millions on Hargreaves by trading down

Draftee Vernon Hargreaves III arrives with family to the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Thursday in Chicago, Illinois.

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Draftee Vernon Hargreaves III arrives with family to the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Thursday in Chicago, Illinois.

29

April

On the surface, the Bucs' trade with the Bears on Thursday night -- sliding down from No. 9 to No. 11 and picking up a fourth-round pick -- seems like a minor move, gaining a bonus pick while still getting the player they would have taken originally in Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.

But from a financial (and thus salary cap) standpoint, the Bucs have already saved about $1.6-million in what they will pay Hargreaves, and by the time his rookie contract is done, they may save about $4-million more.

NFL rookie salaries are essentially slotted to a player's draft position, and according to salary-cap site Spotrac.com, Hargreaves' rookie salary with the Bucs should be about $14.2-million for four years, instead of $15.8-million had he gone at No. 9. There's an immediate savings of about $1.2-million just in the considerable signing bonus rookies get before they've played a snap -- he'll get about $8.5-million, instead of the $9.7-million bonus he would have gotten at No. 9.

The real savings could come in 2020, when the Bucs have the right to keep Hargreaves with a fifth-year option, as teams do with all first-round picks. That option is calculated based on a player's position and where he was drafted, and there's a major difference between the fifth-year option for a top-10 pick and that for someone drafted from No. 11 on.

Here's the fine print: top-10 picks' fifth-year options are equal to the average of the top 10 players at your position -- for corners whose options were in 2016, for instance, that would cost a team $11-million for the fifth year. But fifth-year options for players drafted between 11 and 32, it's calculated by the average of the third- through 25th-highest players at the position -- much less, or about $7.5-million for 2016 options. That's a difference of $3.5-million -- and the gap should only be more four years from now.

Adding a fourth-round pick in itself is a great benefit in a deal that allows you to take the player you were already taking, but by knowing the details of NFL contracts, the Bucs could be able to save $5-million or more on Hargreaves' rookie contract.

[Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2016 3:37pm]

    

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