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Records show Bucs have $30M in cap space

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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To say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have money to burn is an understatement. The Bucs will enter the 2009 season with more salary-cap space than any other franchise. Tampa Bay currently has $30 million in room, according to financial data obtained by FOXSports.com.
No other team has anywhere close to that amount of cap space. Green Bay has $17 million available, followed by Chicago ($15 million) and Cleveland ($15 million). Tampa Bay's frugality is nothing new. The Bucs have a team cap figure of $144 million — $16 million more than the official league number — because of credits accrued from previous seasons when the club didn't spend to the cap. The Bucs tried using cap space on high-profile player acquisitions during the offseason but couldn't sign free agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth or swing a trade with New England for quarterback Matt Cassel. Wide receiver Antonio Bryant, linebacker Barrett Ruud and left tackle Donald Penn are Tampa Bay's top veterans whose contracts expire after this season. While the Bucs have ample cap space available, the financial issues of team ownership could hinder negotiations with those players. Under new CBA rules set to begin in 2010, the number of complete NFL seasons required for unrestricted free agency jumps from four to six seasons. That means players with expiring deals can become a restricted free agent whose services could be retained for a lesser price in 2010 than a long-term deal. The final year of the CBA agreement also abolishes the salary cap altogether and minimum spending limits on player salaries. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he doesn't expect an agreement on a new CBA with the players union before an uncapped system goes into effect in March. The NFL is on track for a work stoppage in 2011 unless a new labor pact is reached. A list of teams with the least amount of cap space wasn't immediately available, but Carolina is believed to be the frontrunner with less than $5 million in room. Carolina's cap is tight for two reasons — the team's 2008 roster has remained almost entirely intact and defensive end Julius Peppers is consuming almost $18 million in space as Carolina's franchise player.
Tagged: Antonio Bryant, Chiefs, Julius Peppers, Donald Penn, Barrett Ruud, Albert Haynesworth, Buccaneers, Derrick Johnson, Redskins, Panthers

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