Bucs’ owners continue to invest in winning

by Gary Shelton on March 18, 2022

in general

Bucs' owners have made some plays, too./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 p.m.

The dark secret that no one talks about is this: The Tampa Bay Bucs have always been about the bucks.

For almost a half-century, since skinflint Hugh Culverhouse fished enough nickels out of the storm grate to promise $16 million dollars for a franchise awarded to someone else, to now, the Bucs have been a testament to the notion that you have to spend it to succeed.

And now, look at them go.

These days, there is an ATM in the locker room featuring hot- and cold-running hundreds. A multi-millionaire here, a multi-millionaire there. The playbook is printed on old bonds, and the most popular number on the team is Joel Glazer’s credit card.


For those of us on the outside, this is all being paid for with Monopoly money. The cash is so over the top we cannot really relate. But it’s real money. Granted, the Glazers aren’t driving used Kias, but some owners wouldn’t spend like this.

And don’t we know ?

For years, this team didn’t compete as much as it scammed. Back in 1982, as the Bucs began to sink, it was revealed that the franchise made the fifth-most profit in the league. It was 21st in salary.

They were con artists selling hope for cash, filled with empty promises and false enthusiasm.

Then there was the Doug Williams Saga, the prime example of how cheap the Bucs were. Williams made $120,000 with the Bucs, less than 12 backup quarterbacks in the league. He wanted $600,000. The Bucs offered $400,000. Culverhouse allowed his team to crumble for $200,000.

Pretty much, that was the way it went. If a player didn’t start, he didn’t stay. There were a lot of vices Culverhouse enjoyed more.

Then came the Glazers, whose spending was sporadic in the early days. Bruce Allen spent recklessly, so Mark Dominick didn’t get to spend at all. Alvin Harper, Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson were wasted money, so free agency looked risky.

Now, the Glazers cannot spend fast enough.

Tom Brady is scheduled to earn just over $20 million this year, but it will probably be more. Chris Godwin will make $60 million over three years. Carlton Davis will make $45 million over three. Ryan Jensen will make $39 million over three years. Russell Gage will make $30 million over three. Newly acquired guard Shaq Mason will make $26 million over two.

That doesn’t count Mike Evans, Donovan Smith or Lavonte David, all of whom make at least $12 million. In all, 26 Bucs will make at least a million dollars this year, and Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh have not signed. It doesn’t count the $20 million of dead cap money.

All in all, it’s a staggering commitment by the Bucs.

The cost of success, you might say.

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