The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have traded for Rob Gronkowski in one of the quickest transactions in history. Earlier this offseason they signed Tom Brady. The starting defense is primarily back and looking to take a leap in year two under Todd Bowles. So is this team preparing for two years of chasing glory or building to be a perpetual winning franchise?
The Buccaneers have been relatively slow-moving in free agency. Deliberate, calculated, and forbearing. This cunning approach to the free agency period has resulted in the Buccaneers landing a future Hall of Fame quarterback and tight end. The biggest issue with each? Age! The Buccaneers brought back Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul. Two aging veterans who aided the growth of the Tampa defense last year.
With Brady (42), Gronkowski (31 in May), Suh (33), and Pierre-Paul (31) on the roster, it comes across as complete “Win Now” mode. It also seems as if, with the age of these veterans, that it’s at the cost of the future. Brady and Pierre-Paul are only on contract for two years. Gronkowski and Suh are only on this roster for a year. All the players above need to be replaced soon if this team wants to continue to be a contender after 2021.
Assuming this team meets and exceeds expectations, the Buccaneers have little time to reload to continue being a relevant team.
Or do they?
This team has some talented players on contract for some time. Mike Evans and Cameron Brate are under contract until 2023. The offensive line is mostly intact for the next two years and Ali Marpet is on contract through the 2023 season. But outside those options, many of the players on this roster will have to resign with the team within the next two years.
It looks grim when you look at the Buccaneers’ multi-year financial summary.
The Hard Truth
This team looks primed to win now, but after 2021 it’s surrounded in uncertainty. Or is it? The Buccaneers have time in the next two years to extend many of its own players. Primarily Chris Godwin, Shaquil Barrett, and Lavonte David next offseason. The team projects to have $72 million in cap space in 2021. They can continue to re-sign their own talent for the next two seasons.
There is also a draft this offseason still to go and others in the future. The team can diligently draft prospects that will fill voids left by players who are departing. This year they can add to the offensive line, grab a running back and then draft multiple players to fill in as others depart. If the team drafts some developmental projects to add depth on the defensive line, some may pan out to be starters as Suh and others leave.
The verdict is still out!
One thing is for sure the team is doing whatever it can to win now. With that aside, if Tampa drafts players well and next year they have a solid free-agent class/draft this team can be set to continue to move forward as a winning franchise. Now if those picks falter and the free agents that come in are like the notorious Chris Baker this team will be forced to reset, and it’s fans to suffer.
Buckle up Buccaneers fans, these next few years will be wild!
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