Bucs were protected on Jackson deal

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Tanard Jackson to a one-year contract extension last October, a lot of eyebrows were raised.

The deal came soon after Jackson had returned from serving a suspension of more than a year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The perception was the Bucs were rewarding a player that had let them down.

Even more eyebrows were raised Tuesday when the Bucs abruptly released Jackson, citing a failed physical. It’s easy to say the Bucs made a mistake in signing Jackson to the extension, but it’s not really accurate.

The Bucs structured Jackson’s contract so that their exposure to risk was minimal. He was scheduled to count $2.95 million against this year’s salary cap. But the Bucs are off the hook for his $2 million base salary. The Bucs also protected themselves by putting in weekly roster bonuses for every week that Jackson was on the 53-man roster. Those could have been worth as much as $800,000. The Bucs are off the hook for that entire amount.

The only salary-cap hit they’ll take is for the $200,000 roster bonus Jackson was paid for still being with the team on the first day of the league year in March.