Buccaneers Restructure Pro Bowler’s $71 Million Contract

Buccaneers Restructure Pro Bowler’s $71 Million Contract

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did nose tackle Vita Vea a solid when they signed him to a 4-year, $71 million contract extension before the 2022 season.

Vea has returned the favor the last two seasons by restructuring his contract and clearing $16.7 million in salary cap space for the Buccaneers.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine thinks it’s something Tampa Bay should explore again before the 2024 season by restructuring Vea’s contract for a third straight year.

“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have restructured Vita Vea’s contract each of the last two seasons, but the third time might be a charm,” Ballentine wrote. “They are once again in need of cap space with only $8.6 million available and Vea is a prime restructure candidate.

“The Bucs could more than double their cap space by restructuring Vea for the third consecutive season. It would provide him with a little more job security and give the Buccaneers some more breathing room as they try to compete in the NFC South.”

Vea, who made his lone Pro Bowl in 2021, is under contract to make $16 million (2024, $17 million and $18 million each of the next three seasons

Restructuring is Nice … But Extensions Are Better

The Buccaneers and Vea have turned large chunks of his salary into roster bonuses the last two seasons with $9.5 million in 2022 and $11.4 million in 2023.

It behooves him to keep working with the team in terms of finances because the most important stretch of his career is coming up in terms of money after making $42.9 million over his first six seasons. Over the next three seasons, he’s scheduled to make another $51 million, bringing his career total past $90 million.

Even more big picture? At just 29 years old, Vea has the opportunity to play his way into another lucrative contract extension — something the franchise can infer he’s taking seriously because of how he approached the offseason

New-Look Vea Could Return to Dominant Form

When he’s healthy, Vea has been one of the NFL’s dominant nose tackles since the Buccaneers selected him at No. 12 overall in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.

While Vea’s talent has never been in question, his ability to stay healthy has continued to be an issue. In six seasons, he’s missed 20 regular-season games and played every game for the Buccaneers in the regular season just once, in 2019.

Vea’s injury issues can be tied directly to his weight. While the Buccaneers have listed him at 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds on the roster since he joined the team in 2018, Vea has grown perceptibly bigger over the years. This led to speculation his weight was beginning to approach 400 pounds — something Vea himself seemed to confirm to The Athletic’s Dan Pompei during minicamp.

“Vita Vea could be better than ever in 2024,” Pompei wrote. “At 29, the seven-year veteran is entering the sweet spot of his career with a new look after losing a significant amount of weight in the offseason while working out with former teammate Ndamukong Suh. Vea has been listed at 347 (he claims that’s his current weight) but probably weighed closer to 367.”

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