Drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 15th overall selection, in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, receiver Michael Clayton exhibited qualities of a franchise receiver with 80 receptions, 1,193 yards and 7 touchdowns as a rookie. Since then however, the enigmatic Clayton has managed a total of 141 receptions, 1,743 yards and 3 touchdowns over five seasons. Clayton whom the team signed to a five-year, $24 million contract last year, which included $10.5 million in guaranteed payments. But even after securing his financial future he still managed to disappoint. With a 16 catch season, which prompted the Bucs to shop his services during the draft, with no takers. Speculation is that the revered iconic blocking icon’s remaining portion of guaranteed money is the driving force behind him sticking with the Bucs for atleast another season.
Quite simply, the Bucs still owe Clayton a lot of money. The contract Clayton signed in 2009 included $10.5 million in guaranteed payouts. At this stage, it’s too early to accept a loss on that investment.
With the team willing to admit mistakes, with the firing of offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and defensive coordinator Jim Bates during the ’09 season. One has to wonder if general manager Mark Dominik would not rather just erase one of his greatest blunders and cut bait, as he has been taken to task by both the local and national media for rewarding such an outlandish contract to Clayton.
On the surface money looks like it’s a driving force. But after sending a 6th round pick in 2011 to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for receiver Reggie Brown and the subsequent drafting of Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. It could be that Dominik is taking a wait and see approach with Clayton. The implication that the team still owes Clayton a windfall of cash has no bearing. He’s do a $1 million dollar roster bonus if he makes the team.
The more likely scenario, is that Dominik will not release Clayton until both rookie receivers are signed. As to the point of money being the lone driving force, there’s no cap ramifications for releasing Clayton. The team would save the one million dollar roster bonus owed to Clayton and reduce any leverage the representatives’ for Benn and Williams would have in negotiating. Thus the reason Clayton remains on the roster at this point in the offseason.