Bucs capitalize on veteran benefit

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team that prides itself on building through the draft. But the Bucs stepped out of character a bit this week by signing veterans Roscoe Parrish and Jeff Charleston.

But these moves were exceptions and came due to necessity. The Bucs needed to add defensive end depth after losing Adrian Clayborn to a season-ending injury, so they went out and signed Charleston. Sammie Stroughter, who was supposed to be the punt returner, got hurt. The Bucs then signed Jordan Shipley, but he had trouble fielding punts and the Bucs released him and went out and signed Parrish.

What’s important to note here is that the Bucs didn’t panic and pay big money for short-term fill-ins. In fact, they invested as little as possible on Parrish and Charleston.

The Bucs took advantage of the veteran minimum salary benefit when signing both players to identical contracts. Officially, Parrish and Charleston signed one-year contracts worth $700,000 and no signing bonus. But subtract the first three game checks and Parrish and Charleston each will earn $576,470 over the rest of the season.

But the Bucs won’t be charged the full amount toward the salary cap. The veteran minimum benefit is designed to help keep veteran players in the league, by making the affordable under the salary cap and it allows their cap figure to be less than their actual salary.

Charleston and Parrish each will count only $444,705 toward this year’s cap.

That leaves the Bucs with $12.8 million (sixth most in the NFL) for this year. They still may have to make more moves this year. But by signing veterans like Charleston and Parrish, they’ve kept a lot of cap room available. That’s significant because the Bucs can carry some of that space over to next year and they already have a lot of money committed toward the 2013 cap.

Carolina is the only other NFC South team with a chance to carry over much money to next year’s cap. The Panthers currently are $5.25 million under this year’s cap. New Orleans is $3.2 million under and Atlanta is $1.15 million under.