Run it back. That, has been the motto of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since winning Super Bowl LV last February.
In an effort to do so, they have made a committed effort to being active in free agency.
Brady and His Guys
Tampa Bay entered the offseason with the future of many key offensive players uncertain. Specifically, skill position players such as wide receiver Chris Godwin, tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Antonio Brown were all becoming free agents. Now, weeks later, all but Brown have resigned and following the theme, are going to run it back.
Beginning the frenzy, the Buccaneers started the offseason by franchise tagging Godwin. Specifically, they placed Godwin under the “non-exclusive” tag, which means he can negotiate with other teams, but the Bucs will ultimately have the chance to match the contract.
Buccaneers informed WR Chris Godwin he is being franchise tagged, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2021
Shortly after tagging Godwin, they decided to again recommit to another one of Brady’s favorite targets. Despite concerns he may retire, they were able to bring Gronkowski back on a one year $10 million deal. Although his production is naturally declining, he is still one of Brady’s most trusted targets.
A chance to run it back: Tight end Rob Gronkowski is returning to the Bucs on a one-year deal worth $10 million, @DrewJRosenhaus told ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2021
What are his guys without him. In unison with bringing back Godwin and Gronkowski, the Buccaneers signed Brady to a one year extension. Vocally, Brady has expressed his desire to remain in Tampa Bay will the same group who just won.
Defensive Side of the Ball
Along with retaining Brady and his guys, the Bucs have also been committed to bringing back players on the defensive side of the ball.
During much of their Super Bowl run, it was the speed and intelligence of the Bucs linebacking core that led the defensive. At the center of that core was linebackers Devin White, Lavonte David and Shaquil Barret. With White attached to the team through at least 2022, the Bucs entered the offseason focused on David and Barret.
Wasting no time, they didn’t even let David hit the open market before they signed him to a two year $25 million extension.
Buccaneers, LB Lavonte David agree to two-year extension worth $25M. (via @RapSheet) pic.twitter.com/AA8X7Y1kc1
— NFL (@NFL) March 9, 2021
Then, shortly after, they signed Barret to a four year $72 million deal.
Shaq Barrett and the Bucs agree to a four-year, $72M deal that includes $36M fully guaranteed, per @AdamSchefter
Bucs keep another star. @brgridiron pic.twitter.com/sUZ6b4Ltlp
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 15, 2021
With both returning, the Bucs linebacker room, and thus defense, is set for the foreseeable future.
Work Left to Be Done
Despite successfully retaining many of their key free agents, the Bucs still have some work to do. First and foremost, they need to address their few but still significant potential departures. Most notable, aforementioned Brown along with defensive end Ndamukong Suh are yet to agree to terms for a return.
Even while having Mike Evans, Godwin and a variety of other weapons, Brown was still one of Brady’s most reliable targets. As a result, his departure would leave a great void. If he is to depart, the Bucs will have to decide how to best replicate his production. Although he only contributed 483 yards and four touchdowns, his impact often felt much larger.
Regarding Suh, along with the linebacking core, the Bucs defensive line was essential to their success. Led by the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Suh and Vita Vea, Tampa was consistently able to generate pressure and irritate quarterbacks. Although the Bucs defensive line is vicious with or without Suh, he played a key role in both clogging up and generating pressure from the middle.
While the majority of their key guys have been retained, Tampa Bay’s job is far from finished.
For NFL teams, the quest to improve never stops. Despite already being widely successful, the Buccaneers offseason has just begun. As it progresses, they will look to continue improving their roster.