TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reworked the final four years of offensive guard J.R. Sweezy's deal, a league source told ESPN's Field Yates.
Last offseason, Sweezy signed a five-year deal with the Bucs worth more than $32.5 million. He missed minicamp, training camp, the preseason and entire 2016 season due to a back injury for a disc-related issue that required surgery.
"When we signed J.R. Sweezy, we were extremely confident," head coach Dirk Koetter said at the NFL combine in February. "We were very excited about J.R. joining our team and making us a better football team. Unfortunately, J.R. had a surgery in the offseason and the recovery was longer than anyone expected."
The Bucs' ground game struggled significantly in 2016, going from the fifth-best rushing attack in the league in 2015 to averaging 3.6 yards per carry -- 29th in the league. The Bucs also allowed 109 quarterback hits last year, fifth-most in the NFL.
According to Yates, Sweezy is still due up to $5 million this year. He can achieve it with his $3.75 base salary plus up to $1.25 million in per-game roster bonuses for each game he is on the 53-man roster or on injured reserve for an injury other than the previous back injury. He had been scheduled to make $5 million this year through a $2.5 million base salary and a $2.5 million roster bonus.
Yates also said that the team added injury waiver language for the deal, split salaries for the next three seasons and reduced his base salary by $1.25 million for the 2018-2020 seasons. Sweezy, however, has base salary escalators for each season of $1.25 million tied to 70 percent play time from each of the previous seasons. If he does not achieve the escalator in a season prior, he can earn that $1.25 million for the current season by playing 70 percent of the snaps.
This deal gives the Bucs protection against a future further issue with Sweezy's back. It's actually the second time the team has tweaked Sweezy's deal this offseason, as it previously pushed back the vesting date of his base salary guarantee to April 7.
The team and Sweezy are both looking to put the injury behind them and move forward.
"He was cleared at the end of the season. I'm excited about that at this point," said general manager Jason Licht. "We'll continue to monitor him [and] where he's at from a physical standpoint."
Added Koetter: "No one wants to be back out there helping the team more than J.R. He's back training again and now we're ready to take it to the next step. Besides having surgery, nothing has changed from J.R. the player who played so well for the Seahawks before we signed him."