The 2021 NFL offseason is only just getting underway, but the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers have already followed through on their commitment to keep the band together in an attempt to “go for two.”
During the team’s Super Bowl parade in February, head coach Bruce Arians told Chris Godwin, Lavonte David and Shaquil Barrett that they weren’t going anywhere in free agency. On Monday, Arians officially became three-for-three on those promises. Tampa Bay franchise tagged Godwin last week before signing David to an extension on the same day. Then, as the legal tampering period opened on Monday, it was Barrett getting his payday in the form of an extension. And the Bucs didn’t stop there, as they brought future Hall of Fame tight end and Super Bowl hero Rob Gronkowski back for another season as well. That’s quite the start to this offseason.
However, without a significant amount of cap space to make all of these moves, the Bucs were going to have to make sacrifices somewhere. Godwin’s franchise tag saved them some money in 2021, but all the team did was delay giving him a long-term extension for another year. With the contracts for David, Barrett and Gronkowski, Jason Licht, Mike Greenberg and Jacqueline Davidson wisely included some voidable years to lower each guy’s cap hit in 2021.
David only counts as $3.5 million against the cap this year, while Barrett will count for just over $5.5 million. Gronkowski? Just under $5 million. And to create some of the space necessary to make these moves, the team restructured Tom Brady’s contract to include some voidable years and lower his 2021 cap hit to $9 million. But of course, the money is going to be due eventually.
Getting all four of these key contributors back, especially at those numbers, is masterful work. Tampa Bay likely has more moves coming to potentially create more space for the likes of Ndamukong Suh and possibly Ryan Succop.
As these moves continue to pile up, though, there are plenty of people wondering just how much future cap trouble the Bucs are getting themselves into. And while those worries are certainly legitimate, those are worries are not for today—they’re for the future.
The Bucs simply owed it to themselves to really go all in again and go for a second consecutive Lombardi Trophy. After more than a decade of mediocre-to-bad football, they brought Brady on board in 2020 and, sure enough, it paid off in year one as they won their second-ever Super Bowl.
Now, the front office could’ve been happy there. They could’ve kept some of their free agents while letting others walk and gone into next season in a better long-term situation with the cap while hoping to have enough to stay on top of the NFL. But they didn’t want to just hope they have enough—they wanted to be sure. Understandably, they weren’t ready to have this group split up, so they decided to “kick the can down the road” as some call it.
That was the only way to go.
Brady, even at 44 years old, very well could be even better in year two under Arians. Keeping Godwin and Gronkowski around will help Brady, as will the fact that the Bucs are now one Suh away from having their entire 2020 defense back for another run at it in 2021.
These types of Super Bowl windows don’t just pop up all that frequently and when they do, they don’t last for long. That’s why it’s OK for Tampa Bay to do whatever it can to take advantage of its current window, even if it means some serious consequences could come down the road. Even with the expected cap increase in the future, the Bucs may face difficulties that force them into making some tough decisions. But those are the types of risks you have to take when you’ve just won the Super Bowl and you have a chance to keep the team together to aim for a repeat.
Because that’s the thing about tomorrow’s problems—they’re tomorrow’s problems.
Today—right now—it’s about going for two.