They franchise tagged Shaquil Barrett, ensuring that he would remain with the team in 2020. Then, they made what was reported as an “aggressive pitch” to Tom Brady. While they waited on an answer—which eventually came in the form of a yes on Tuesday—they inked Jason Pierre-Paul to a two-year deal. To recap, before the league year officially got underway at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Tampa Bay already had both of its edge rushers back from the 2019 defense and an agreement to a deal from Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time.
So, now what?
Jason Licht and Bruce Arians repeatedly made their plans clear leading up to this week: Keep the defense together and figure out the quarterback situation. Within the “keep the defense together” item on the task list, Barrett and Pierre-Paul were clearly—and rightfully—the top priorities. Then, of course, came the wait for Brady’s decision. He was their first choice, and according to all reports, they got him.
So, what will Licht and company do next? Well, one would assume they’ll get back to the defensive side of the ball. When it was said that they want to keep that unit intact, it felt like it meant re-signing more than just Barrett and Pierre-Paul. Carl Nassib has already agreed to a big deal in Las Vegas. So, common sense would seem to point to Ndamukong Suh being the next domino to fall for the Bucs.
Suh has said he wants to remain in Tampa Bay and all signs have pointed to the team feeling the same way. In fact, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reiterated that on Tuesday morning:
He’s on it. There is mutual interest https://t.co/QoxjqzaGTE— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) March 17, 2020
It’s not hard to see why the Bucs would want Suh back in 2020. He didn’t light the world on fire numbers-wise in 2019, but he played a big role in the emergence of Vita Vea in the middle of the defensive line. And at 33, the veteran likely has plenty left to offer both in terms of on-field production and off-field mentorship to the young guys in the locker room. Plus, with Beau Allen walking out the door on Wednesday, the Bucs’ sights presumably have to be set on pairing Suh with Vea for another year.
The question seems to be the price tag for the 2010 No. 2 overall pick. After getting Barrett, Pierre-Paul and Brady on board, Tampa Bay should still have north of $20 million in cap space to work with. Of course, some will have to be set aside for the draft class, but there’s likely enough to get Suh back before finding some potential value-driven depth signings.
As far as whether or not Brady deciding to be a Buc would have any impact on Suh’s decision, Stroud had this to say on Wednesday:
It should have an influence on everything. But I’ve been told Suh wants to play in Tampa Bay again this year. https://t.co/o2dfKyd7Fg— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) March 18, 2020
So, essentially, Suh wanted to be a Buccaneer in 2020 anyway. But having Brady on board can’t hurt that desire, that’s for sure.
With the NFL rules surrounding free agency being a little weird right now due to the coronavirus pandemic, the official start of the league year hasn’t been ripe with the “official” signing announcements you would typically get from teams. But we should probably keep an eye out in the coming days for any reports about a deal between Tampa Bay and Ndamukong Suh.
It’s coming sooner or later. Right?