Bucs restructure Jackson, Nicks contracts

Very quietly, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have started getting their salary-cap situation in order for 2013.

The team restructured the contracts of wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks recently to free up about $18 million in 2013 cap space.

To accomplish that, the Bucs had to absorb more of a cap hit for this year for Jackson and Nicks. In both cases, the team accelerated the process by giving roster bonuses for this year to replace guaranteed money for next year.

Jackson got a $12.16 million roster bonus to push his cap figure for this year to $15.43 million. But his new base salary for 2013 will be $840,000 and his cap figure will drop to $3.472 million. Jackson had been scheduled to count $13 million toward the 2013 cap. The roster bonus will be pro-rated over the remainder of Jackson’s contract.

The Bucs followed a similar path with Nicks, giving him an $11.785 million roster bonus now and pushing his cap figure to $15.436 million for this year. But Nicks’ base salary for 2013 had been scheduled for $12.5 million and it now drops to just $715,000. Nicks’ cap figure for 2013 had been scheduled for $12.5 million, but it now drops to $3.072 million.

That leaves the Bucs in good cap shape for next season. They now have $98 million committed toward a cap that’s expected to be slightly more than $120 million. But the Bucs can still increase their space. They can carry over remaining 2012 cap space to 2013. Even with the accelerations on Jackson and Nicks, the Bucs still are about $8.5 million under the 2012 cap.