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A View on How the Buccaneers Will Deal with the Salary Cap Issues in 2012

Football Outsiders is out and doing Division by Division looks at the salary cap and how it affects each team around the league.

To see about the entire NFC South – click HERE

Here’s the Buccaneers breakdown, and some of the background on how they think things will play out for the team.

Estimated Cap Space: $60-$65 million

Unrestricted Free Agents (12): Ronde Barber, Connor Barth, Earnest Graham, Jovan Haye, Geno Hayes, Josh Johnson, Sean Jones, James Lee, Corey Lynch, Elbert Mack, Michael Spurlock, Jeremy Zuttah

Restricted Free Agents (3): Michael Bennett, Demar Dotson, Kregg Lumpkin

Originally signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, Bennett joined the Buccaneers off the waiver wire midway through the 2009 season. The 6-foot-4, 271-pound defensive end has started 12 of 34 games and picked up six sacks, including a career-high four in a 2011 season where the Buccaneers used first- and second-round picks on defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers. Bennett can expect at least an original-round tender worth $1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary. Dotson returned from a knee injury in 2010 to start two of 13 games in 2011 and can be expected back on the low tender in 2012.

Franchise Tag Candidate: Though flush with salary cap space, the Buccaneers do not have a candidate for the franchise tag this off-season.

Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: Cap space is not an issue for the Buccaneers, who already cleared $7.2 million in cap space with the release of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The team could save some more cash and cap space by releasing a pair of veteran offensive linemen. Center Jeff Faine ($5.925 million) and right tackle Jeremy Trueblood ($5.25 million) could be released with no cap implications, a savings of $11.175 million in cash and cap space.

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