Report: Contract keeps Michael Clayton safe for now

The buzz coming out of Tampa Bay in the aftermath of the draft was that the rebuilding Buccaneers had done pretty well.

They snagged the defensive tackle they wanted, Gerald McCoy, third overall and the word the team put out was that he would have been their choice if they had the No. 1 selection. The Bucs also addressed one of the greatest areas of need on a roster full of holes when they selected Illinois’ Arrelious Benn and Syracuse’s Mike Williams to help out the wide receivers. Maybe the plan is to do more than that. The word was they could step in as starters right away.

All of it adds up to make it a bit of a surprise that underperforming veteran Michael Clayton remains on the roster. As Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune details, it comes down to the bottom line. General manager Mark Dominik, in one of his first big moves in charge, extended Clayton with a lucrative contract a year ago.

The deal included $10.5 million guaranteed, and cutting ties with Clayton now would only ensure Tampa gets zero return on the Glazer investment, the type of cash outlay you haven’t seen often from the club.

“It may eventually go down as one of general manager Mark Dominik's greatest blunders, but the decision to give Clayton a five-year, $24 million contract last year is what's keeping him on the roster,” Cummings wrote.

That is the reality of the situation but with a coaching staff under fire to produce this season, playing time doesn’t figure to be determined by contracts. Clayton’s deal may keep him on the roster, but he is going to have to produce in order to get on the field. If the Bucs drafting Benn and Williams wasn't a wake-up call that serves to motivate Clayton, nothing will be.

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