Tom Brady, Buccaneers Seek 2020 Repeat
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be primed to run it back in 2021. The defending Super Bowl champions had a highly active time with their own pending free agents. Aside from Antonio Brown, the Buccaneers were able to retain all 22 starters on the team. They became the first team since 1994, the first season to involve salary cap, to bring back all their starters from their Super Bowl championship roster. With Tom Brady signing a four-year contract extension with three voidable years, the 43-year-old will be under center through the 2022 season.
While they weren’t active signing outside free agents, bringing back the starters makes Tampa Bay the chance to be heavy favorites to repeat. With the draft upcoming, they have very few weaknesses and holes to address. Some positions they should consider are the secondary, defensive line, and offensive line. They could be in the hunt for a backup quarterback for when Brady eventually decides to hang up the cleats, and any rookie that comes to Tampa should feel ecstatic to learn from the future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Potential Prospects to Consider
The Buccaneers currently have eight draft picks in the upcoming NFL draft. With a little under $1 million left in cap space, depth is the number one priority. Some prospects that could be available to the Buccaneers at 32 are the following:
Asante Samuel Jr., CB (Florida State)
Travis Etienne, RB (Clemson)
Najee Harris, RB (Alabama)
Wyatt Davis, OL (Ohio State)
Landon Dickerson, OL (Alabama)
Alex Leatherwood, OL (Alabama)
Jaelan Phillips, EDGE (Miami)
Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE (Wake Forest)
Christian Barmore, DT (Alabama)
Tampa Bay already has a former player’s son in Antoine Winfield Jr, adding Asante Samuel Jr. would bring a nostalgic feeling to the secondary. However, with Ndamukong Suh (34) and William Gholston (30) both aging veterans, targeting a defensive lineman with pick 32 would be the best option for the Buccaneers. With Suh and Gholston set to be free agents in 2022, finding a replacement should be a priority. That prospect should be in a good position to be a rotational player this upcoming season.
On the offensive side of the ball, adding a rookie interior prospect would also be beneficial. Center Ryan Jensen (63.6 PFF grade) and guard Alex Cappa (67.7 PFF grade) were average in 2020. After taking last year’s first-round selection Tristan Wirfs, bringing in another young lineman would be beneficial both to keeping Tom Brady upright, and helping the 28th run game improve.
In the mid to later rounds of the draft, Tampa Bay should target a signal-caller to back Brady up. Kellen Mond (Texas A&M), Kyle Trask (Florida), Davis Mills (Stanford), and Jamie Newman (Georgia) are just a few of the prospects that should be available later on.
The Path to Repeat
Looking towards next season, the Buccaneers’ path to repeating is an easy one as of now. They currently get the fourth easiest strength of schedule for the 2021 season. A couple of home games that are sure to create headlines next season are against the Bills and the Cowboys. Some games away from Tampa Bay to keep an eye on are against the Rams and the Colts.
The biggest game that the Buccaneers pulled though is traveling to Foxborough, where Tom Brady will face his former team. Brady could become the fourth quarterback to beat all 32 NFL teams, joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and recently retired Drew Brees in this illustrious club. This game is almost primed to be a primetime game next season.
Going into next season, the Buccaneers need to remain focused if they want to go back to the Super Bowl. They should be considered the favorites to win Super Bowl 56.