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Bucs want to invest in their own guys this year

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 30: Mike Williams #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulls in this touchdown reception against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 30, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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The Bucs were among the biggest spenders in free agency a year ago, and they might be again this year.

But the difference might be in what they spend on plane fare.

After making a first-weekend splash by signing outside free agents Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and Eric Wright a year ago, the Bucs are aiming differently this year.

After converting big base salaries for Nicks and Jackson into bonuses and prorating the difference over the remaining years of their deals, but the Bucs created around $30 million worth of salary cap room.

“That has actually opened a lot of cap room for us going into 2013, a tremendous amount,” general manager Mark Dominik said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “We’ve got a chance to be (very) involved in free agency again.

“But we also have a chance to try to retain this nucleus of players, so it was a big commitment that our owners made, and I think that should be encouraging for all fans about our football team.”

The Bucs could create more room if they release Wright, who voided the guarantees in his contract when he was suspended for violating the performance-enhancing substance policy. Injured linebacker Quincy Black’s future is also in doubt.

With any savings, Dominik is prepared to invest in a number of the Bucs’ own guys.

He’s already started talking about a new deal for wide receiver Mike Williams, and defensive end Michael Bennett is another possible target, as he’ll draw plenty of interest elsewhere if the Bucs can’t get a deal for him done before March 12.