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Big Buccaneers-related moves projected by USA Today

Three eyebrow-raisers here from USA Today, all in different ways.

The NFL made it official Sunday evening that everything that was planned for this week will go ahead as scheduled. That means legal tampering will begin Monday at noon and the new league year/free agency will start Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. So, while there may be no live sports going on this week, there will be plenty of major NFL news flying around Twitter and your favorite sports television networks.

This is obviously a huge week for all 32 NFL teams and anyone related to the league at all. Speculation has been running rampant about different players, teams and topics for months, and now we’re excitingly close to getting some concrete answers.

That brings us to an interesting speculation piece from USA Today’s Doug Farrar, which, as you can tell by the headline of this very article, projects some huge free agency moves related to the Buccaneers.

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Right off the bat, Farrar gives us a big one: Tom Brady to Tampa Bay. He had a lot to say as to his reasoning behind the move, which is worth checking out at the link provided above. Here’s a snippet:

The Buccaneers come in with a check-check-check scenario. Todd Bowles coordinated a defense that rose from dead last to fifth overall in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted metrics. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are one of the NFL’s most formidable receiving duos, and if you can get Bruce Arians to use his tight ends in the passing game, there’s the dynamic duo of Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. When matching Brady and Arians together, as some observers have tried to do based on this Tampa Bay Times report that the Bucs are “all in” on the idea of Brady, many will cite Arians’ preferred deep passing attack and Brady’s supposedly dead arm.

Of course, this is a potential acquisition that has caused quite the stir within Tampa Bay’s fan base over the last month and a half or so. Brady is a guy who has done nothing but win in his storied NFL career. Why, then, would he leave New England after 20 years, nine Super Bowl appearances and six rings for a franchise who has been a laughing stock for a large portion of its history?

Money, for starters. But beyond that, as Farrar goes into, the Bucs have intriguing potential that Brady could easily take to the next level. With the little bit of time he has left in the league, he could turn the organization around and revitalize a fan base that could use some winning football. It’s a wild possibility to think of. Most seem to be in “we’ll believe it when we see it” mode, but the more and more that comes out about the G.O.A.T’s future, the easier it becomes to buy into the idea of seeing him finish his career in red and pewter.

Oakland Raiders v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The headline did say “big” Bucs-related moves, didn’t it? Of course, no matter what happens with the team’s quarterback situation and Jameis Winston, it will feel big. But this? This would be truly significant. Farrar projects a future that includes Winston playing under Jon Gruden as the Raiders make the move to Las Vegas. Talk about must-see, right? Winston has been must-see for his entire career, as has Gruden, really. Seeing the two come together in Vegas of all places would be pretty crazy.

About this particular move, here’s some of what Farrar had to say about it:

Well, given Gruden’s noncommittal responses to Derek Carr’s future with the franchise, this certainly would be fascinating. We all know the drill with Winston — big plays for both his own offense and enemy defenses, all the physical tools you’d want in a quarterback and the ability to adhere to different schemes, but always that rogue gene that has him writing checks with his arm that reality just won’t cash. If Gruden wants a guy with more physical potential than Carr, and he thinks he has the ability to tame Winston’s unfinished aspects, that would be an interesting fit.

The idea of Winston continuing his career in black and silver is, as Farrar says, interesting. It would mean Vegas moving on from Derek Carr and factoring the 26-year-old Winston in immediately. And the Raiders’ offense, as it stands now, doesn’t have nearly as many weapons as the Bucs’ does. Of course, the roster is fluid, as Gruden and Mike Mayock will add pieces this spring regardless of what happens at the quarterback position. It’s long been said that “Gruden’s favorite quarterback is the one he doesn’t have,” and building around Winston during the transition from Oakland to Las Vegas would be a huge vote of confidence.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

And finally, the signing Farrar mentions that just simply isn’t going to happen. He has Shaquil Barrett landing in New York with the Giants. I’m going to go ahead and break out a phrase comedian Gary Gulman absolutely hates... Yeah, no.

This isn’t happening, but here’s what Farrar had to say about it anyway:

Enter the Giants, with $78,435,117 in current cap space and a desperate need for edge pressure. Even if the Giants re-sign free agent Markus Golden, who led the team with 64 total pressures in 2019, the need for a bookend is obvious. Barrett would provide that, and the Giants have the money to get it done.

Granted, that’s not Farrar’s entire explanation. But if you read the whole thing for yourself, he doesn’t even mention the Bucs’ expected course of action, which is to franchise tag Barrett. He doesn’t say anything about Barrett’s well-documented desire to stay in Tampa. He simply has the 2019 NFL sack leader walking away from the situation he has said many times that he loves and heading to New York. This one was a head-scratcher for sure.

Obviously, this is all just one man’s speculation, but that’s what the early part of the calendar year is all about. We’re about to enter the time of the year when all of the speculation can end and all of the deals can come flying in to give us a clearer picture of what the 2020 NFL season will look like.

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