Vita Vea

Buccaneers Rework Vita Vea’s Contract

The restructures keep coming, and this time it’s the Buccaneers opening up a chunk of cap. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the Buccaneers have restructured the contract of nose tackle Vita Vea.

[RELATED: Buccaneers Place Franchise Tag On Chris Godwin]

Specifically, the team restructured the veteran’s base salary, opening up $7.64MM worth of cap space. Greg Auman of The Athletic has more details (via Twitter), noting that the organization reduced Vea’s salary from $10.6MM to $1.12MM, leading to the player getting a $9.46MM bonus.

The Buccaneers barely had any breathing room over the cap heading into the offseason, and that was before they slapped wideout Chris Godwin with the franchise tag. The team will surely have more cap-saving transactions, but they’ll still be hard pressed to afford all of their impending free agents, a group that includes Carlton Davis.

Vea has spent his entire four-year career in Tampa Bay, and the former first-round pick signed a four-year, $73MM extension with the Buccaneers back in January. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2021 after finishing with 33 tackles, four sacks, and 12 QB hits.

Bucs, Vita Vea Agree To Extension

One of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL, Vita Vea agreed to a shiny, new contract tonight, extending his stay in Tampa Bay for another four years. The new deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, is worth over $73MM and will give Vea one of the six highest annual salaries for a defensive tackle in the NFL. 

The 12th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Vea has been a starter since his rookie season. Vea suffered fractures in his right leg and ankle in Week 5 of the 2020 season which forced him to miss the remaining eleven regular season games and the Buccaneers’ first two postseason games. Vea returned in time to help his squad win the NFC and Super Bowl LV over the Chiefs.

Vea’s new deal gives him the highest annual salary on the Buccaneers’ defense and second-highest salary on the roster behind only quarterback Tom Brady. In exchange, Tampa Bay has locked down the leader and future of their defensive line for the next four years.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

Buccaneers Pick Up Vita Vea’s Option

It’s officially official. On Monday, the Bucs announced that they have exercised defensive tackle Vita Vea’s fifth-year option. 

Vea was a huge part of the Buccaneers’ defense before going down with a serious ankle injury. Even though he was limited to just five games, the Buccaneers did not want to leave him exposed to free agency in 2022. Thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, Vea’s 2022 season will now be fully guaranteed, as opposed to being guaranteed for injury-only. That’s just fine for the Buccaneers, who watched Vea start all 16 games in 2019 for 35 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three passes defended.

Originally believed to be lost for the season, Vea managed to return in time for the NFC Championship Game and the Bucs’ Super Bowl victory. The 12th overall pick of the 2018 draft should be fully healthy for 2021, allowing him to make his case for a lucrative long-term deal. In the meantime, Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea is locked in for an additional season at around $7.64MM.

Buccaneers To Pick Up Vita Vea’s Fifth-Year Option

It’s about that time of year where we’ll start to hear a lot of decisions on the fifth-year options of first-round picks from the 2018 draft class, and we got a significant one on Thursday.

The Buccaneers will pick up the fifth-year option on Vita Vea‘s contract, GM Jason Licht said Thursday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Unlike in previous years, many of these option decisions won’t be no-brainers or formalities. That’s because starting with this cycle, the fifth-year options are now fully guaranteed. They had previously been guaranteed for injury only.

That means teams will be a lot less loose with picking up these fifth-year options, and it also means Vea’s salary for 2022 will become fully guaranteed when they pick it up. That salary will be about $7.64MM for the Bucs. It’s a significant commitment for two years from now, but it’s also still a very good deal compared to what Vea would fetch on the open market.

The defensive tackle was a huge part of Tampa’s defense last year, and was a massive disruptor before going down with a serious ankle injury after five games. Originally believed to be lost for the season, Vea battled his way back and improbably returned for the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl.

Vea, the 12th overall pick of the 2018 draft, started all 16 games in 2019, finishing with 35 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three passes defended. He had two sacks in only four-plus games in 2020, and was looking dominant before the injury.

Teams have until May 3rd to make their fifth-year option decisions on 2018 first-rounders.

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

Buccaneers Activate DT Vita Vea

Jan. 22: The Bucs have officially activated Vea, as Peter Schrager of the NFL Network tweets. Vea will bolster an already terrific D-line and, depending on how much he plays, could provide a major boost to Tampa’s Super Bowl aspirations. In a corresponding move, the team has waived Earl Watford.

Jan. 18: The Buccaneers could be adding significant reinforcements ahead of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers. Tampa has designated defensive tackle Vita Vea to return from injured reserve, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

Stroud adds that the big man in the middle “will begin practicing Wednesday and could be activated for Sunday’s NFC title game.” This is something of a surprising development, as Vea was previously believed to be done for the season after fracturing his ankle back in October. The Washington product had been having a career year before going down, and his injury correlated strongly with a general decline in the Bucs’ defense.

He had ten tackles, three for a loss, and two sacks in five games while regularly eating up double teams before getting hurt. The 12th overall pick of the 2018 draft was up and down as a rookie, but started all 16 games in 2019. He had made another big leap in 2020, so it was a shame to see his season get cut so short.

Stroud noted in a follow-up tweet that the team thinks there’s a “very good chance” he’ll be able to suit up against Green Bay, although a final call won’t be made until later in the week. If he’s able to play on Sunday, it’d be a huge boost for Tampa Bay as they look to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the league’s most efficient offense.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/28/20

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Promoted: QB Reid Sinnett

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on IR: G Sua Opeta

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Buccaneers Place Vita Vea and Jack Cichy On IR

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers officially placed defensive tackle Vita Vea on injured reserve. The former first-round pick will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken leg against the Bears. 

[RELATED: Bucs Contacted Snacks After Vea Injury]

Vea started in all 16 of the Bucs’ games last year and all five of this year’s contests. Thanks in part to Vea, the Bucs have boasted one of the league’s best run defenses. Playing at the nose tackle spot, he managed two sacks this season to bring his career total to 7.5. One of those sacks came on Thursday night, prior to the season-ending injury.

The injury is unfortunate for obvious reasons, but also for contractual reasons. Vea will be extension-eligible after the 2020 season — he’ll also be light on leverage. The Bucs will probably let things play out, since they have Vea under contract in 2021 at a cap figure of $4.7MM. Meanwhile, Will Gholston and Rakeem Nunez-Roaches will likely take on larger roles up front.

Vea will be joined on IR by linebacker Jack Cichy, who suffered a hamstring injury. Fortunately, that injury doesn’t look like a season-ender and he’ll be eligible to return in as little as three weeks.

Bucs’ DT Vita Vea Out For Season

The Buccaneers suffered a difficult loss at the hands of the Bears last night, and Tampa will now have to forge ahead without one of its defensive stalwarts. Head coach Bruce Arians announced this morning that defensive tackle Vita Vea suffered a broken leg in the defeat and is done for the year (Twitter link via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times).

The 2018 first-round selection missed three games due to injury during his rookie campaign, but he rebounded to play in (and start) all 16 of the Bucs’ contests last year. Tampa has fielded one of the strongest run defenses in the league in 2020, and Vea is a big reason for the club’s success in that regard. He also showed improved chops at getting to the quarterback, as he posted two sacks in his 4+ games this season (including one last night before the ankle injury).

Contractually, it’s an especially unfortunate blow. Vea will be eligible for an extension after the season, and if he had played a full slate at the level he had displayed through the first month, he might have been able to land a lucrative re-up. Instead, the Bucs will likely wait for him to prove himself again in 2021 before considering a new deal.

In Vea’s absence, Will Gholston and Rakeem Nunez-Roaches will likely take on larger roles. Greg Auman of The Athletic says that sixth-round rookie Khalil Davis should also see himself activated on game days (Twitter link).