Can you believe it? Unless something crazy happens, Rob Gronkowski now plays tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was obvious the Bucs were all-in when they signed Tom Brady earlier this offseason, but now it’s even more clear that this team believes it can win a Super Bowl within the next two years.
Usually, when teams go “all-in”, it can be a boom or bust proposition. A lot of times it means playing checkers instead of chess, due to the idea that you are focusing on the short-term and not the long-term, which can really bite you in the NFL.
You don’t have to go back very far to find a good example. The 2011 Philadelphia Eagles is a perfect example of even if you look good on paper, all that matters is what happens on the field.
The Eagles had just wrapped up the 2010 season that saw them win the NFC East with the league’s No. 2 offense, but they fell just short to the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs. Andy Reid’s bunch showed a lot of promise that year and many thought - Reid and his staff included - that the Eagles were a step away from playing in the big game.
So naturally, the Eagles went on a spending spree in free agency. They signed top players like Nnamdi Asomugha, Ronnie Brown, Jason Babin, Evan Mathis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Vince Young, and others. The Eagles were given 15-2 odds to win the Super Bowl after the additions were made.
Young even famously referred to the roster as “The Dream Team” one day after practice in July. But as we all know, the Eagles 2011 season was anything but a dream.
The team started 1-4 en route to an 8-8 finish with no playoff appearance. All of the additions - minus Babin - were busts. The entire season fell apart before it began.
Make no mistake, the Bucs are copying this exact blueprint in 2020, except for the fact that they aren’t coming off of a division title, let alone a winning season. With the recent addition of Gronkowski, it’s clear the Bucs are trying to create a Dream Team of their own.
And while doing so has its risks, the Bucs are taking said risks in a logical fashion. The franchise is not selling the future for the present. Just take a look at the contracts the Bucs have dished out this season. Not one contract has been for longer than two years and most of the money is up front. They aren’t handing out backloaded contracts that could really put the team in a hole over the next few years.
The Bucs have talked players like Cameron Brate into taking a pay cut. When it comes to Gronkowski, they gave up a fourth-round pick, but they already had an extra fourth-rounder thanks to the NFL’s compensatory draft pick system, so it was a wash. Jason Licht and co. also gained a seventh-rounder in the trade, so he still has seven picks in this year’s draft.
Trade, pending physical: Patriots are trading TE Rob Gronkowski and a seventh-round pick to the Buccaneers for a fourth-round pick, source tells ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 21, 2020
If the Bucs don’t get the job done in 2020 or 2021, they won’t be bogged down financially to the point where they are cutting valuable pieces a la the 2004-2005 Titans. That means they can still construct a formidable roster with proper drafting and smart free agent additions after this “championship run”.
Regardless of what happens over the next couple of years, it’s nice to know that the Bucs are doing things the smart way.