The team announced Friday afternoon that the Bucs and the veteran guard "mutually agreed'' to part ways. Nicks, who signed a five-year deal worth $47.5 million in 2012, appeared in only nine games over the last two seasons. Nicks missed all but two games last season with a toe injury and an MRSA infection.
Nicks was trying to make a comeback, but he missed the team's entire offseason program this spring.
"I'd like to thank the Buccaneers organization for working with me as I have attempted to get myself back on the football field," Nicks said in a statement released by the team. "However, after careful consideration, I have made the decision to step away from the game. This was by no means an easy decision, but I believe that it is what is best for me and my family, as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."
Nicks was supposed to make $7 million in base salary this season, and $6 million of that was guaranteed. But the fact Nicks walked away means the Bucs no longer are on the hook for the guarantee. But the two sides reached some sort of financial settlement.
"I know this has been a difficult time for Carl and his family, but we respect his decision and thank him for his effort in trying to get back on the football field," general manager Jason Licht said. "Carl is a very prideful athlete and has been an elite-level guard in the league. We are all disappointed that he will not be a part of this new chapter of Buccaneers football."
Added coach Lovie Smith: "I regret not having the opportunity to work with Carl, but I understand and support his decision to do what is best for him and his family. I know Carl gave this decision a lot of careful consideration, and I appreciate his honesty through this process."
Nicks spent his first four seasons in the league with the New Orleans Saints, earning a Super Bowl ring and being named to the Pro Bowl twice.
With Nicks gone, the Bucs are short on experience at guard. They'll give long looks to Patrick Omameh, Oniel Cousins, Jamon Meredith and rookie Kadeem Edwards.