Agent’s Take: Potential Derrick Henry-to-Bucs trade illustrates salary cap gymnastics for teams eyeing deals
When it comes to making trades in the NFL, salary cap implications always play a significant role. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ reported interest in trading for Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is a perfect illustration of the delicate salary cap gymnastics teams have to perform to make these deals happen.
The Buccaneers’ Super Bowl window
After winning Super Bowl LV, the Buccaneers have set their sights on winning another championship while quarterback Tom Brady is still playing at an elite level. To enhance their chances, they have been actively exploring options to improve their roster, and acquiring a dynamic running back like Derrick Henry would certainly be a major coup.
The challenge of fitting Henry’s contract under the cap
While the Buccaneers may have the desire to trade for Henry, the biggest obstacle they face is fitting his contract under their already tight salary cap. Henry signed a four-year, $50 million extension with the Titans last year, which includes a $12 million average annual salary. Taking on that kind of cap hit requires some innovative maneuvering from the Buccaneers’ front office and cap experts.
Restructuring existing contracts
One way the Buccaneers could create additional cap space is by restructuring existing contracts of their star players. By converting a portion of base salaries into signing bonuses, they can spread out the cap hit over multiple years and free up immediate cap room. However, this approach only offers a short-term solution and can create long-term complications if not managed properly.
Cutting or trading high-priced veterans
Another avenue the Buccaneers could take is parting ways with high-priced veterans who are not essential to their championship aspirations. Cutting or trading players like wide receiver Mike Evans or offensive tackle Donovan Smith, both of whom have large contracts, could provide the necessary cap relief. However, this approach would mean sacrificing key contributors on the team.
The Titans’ perspective
While the focus of this article has been primarily on the Buccaneers, it is essential to consider the Titans’ standpoint in a potential Derrick Henry trade. Given Henry’s incredible production and importance to the team, any trade would likely have to involve significant compensation from the Buccaneers.
Salary cap implications for the Titans
If the Titans were to trade Henry, they would still carry a significant portion of his cap hit unless the acquiring team takes on his entire contract. This could limit their ability to sign other key players or make significant moves in free agency. Additionally, losing a player of Henry’s caliber would undoubtedly impact the team’s performance and fanbase support.
Other potential suitors for Henry’s services
While the Buccaneers may be the front-runners in the potential Derrick Henry trade scenario, they are likely not the only team interested in the star running back. Other teams with cap space and a need for a dynamic running back could emerge as contenders, driving up the price and making a trade even more complicated.
The potential Derrick Henry-to-Bucs trade serves as a prime example of the intricate salary cap complexities that teams face when pursuing valuable players. While both the Buccaneers and the Titans may be intrigued by the idea of such a trade, the financial implications and the potential loss of a key player make it a challenging proposition. As the offseason progresses, it will be fascinating to see if the Buccaneers can navigate the salary cap gymnastics necessary to bring a game-changing running back like Henry to Tampa Bay.