Buccaneers are focused on six of their free agents, with the goal of keeping five

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The defending Super Bowl champions have made clear their desire to retain as many of their free agents as possible. More recently, coach Bruce Arians has narrowed the objective, without naming names.

As noted by JoeBucsFan.com, Arians has said on multiple occasions that the Bucs need to keep “five out of six” free agents in order to set the stage for a second Super Bowl run.

“For us right now, it’s just keeping this team together,” Arians recently told WDAE radio. “And that’s probably going to eat up most of the salary cap if we can just keep or five or six guys that we want to keep on this football team, and keep the closeness and the accountability factor that we have in the locker room.”

Via JoeBucsFan.com, there are eight free agents of significance: linebacker Shaq Barrett, linebacker Lavonte David, receiver Chris Godwin, tight end Rob Gronkowski, receiver Antonio Brown, running back Leonard Fournette, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and kicker Ryan Succop. The fact that Arians has on multiple occasions mentioned five of six suggests that two of those eight are not regarded as priorities — and that Arians realizes one of the remaining six likely will leave.

The easiest ones to keep will be Gronkowski and Brown. Gronk likely wouldn’t play for anyone else; Brown would have a hard time getting anyone else to sign him. After that, it gets a little more delicate.

Barrett should be the team’s top priority. However, because the Bucs used the franchise tag on him in 2020, his franchise tender for 2021 spikes to $18.99 million. He has said he wants to “break the bank” with a long-term deal.

Fournette could attract a sizable offer elsewhere, and he could be replaced with a rookie or a veteran free agent who will be happy to take a seat on the Bucco Bus for a potential ride to Super Bowl LVI. Also, with Ronald Jones still under contract, it becomes easier to replace Fournette.

Godwin likely will draw interest elsewhere, and he’d be easy to replace, with Brown and Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson ready to climb the depth chart. Again, a veteran free agent also could be added to the mix; what receiver wouldn’t want to play with Tom Brady at this point?

Lavonte David could be an intriguing target for another team, if only to throw a wrench into the team’s broader leadership structure. With Devin White poised to assume full command of the defense, the Bucs could be willing to let David walk away, if he chooses to do so.

Then there’s Suh. The Bucs may need to let him see what else is out there before he’ll be ready to accept whatever the Bucs are able to pay. Then, he’ll have to decide whether whatever they can pay is worth it to keep playing. Don’t be surprised if, at the end of the day, his decision comes down to another year with the Bucs or retirement.

Whatever the Bucs do, it will be very difficult at this point to go shopping for outside free agents until after they decide what to do with their current players who are due to get new deals. Even then, the Bucs need to be careful to avoid the perception that they didn’t make good on their vow to keep the team together if/when the Bucs end up bringing in others to replace those who ultimately were allowed to leave.

34 responses to “Buccaneers are focused on six of their free agents, with the goal of keeping five

  1. Don’t overpay for a sack artist. A guy that gets 16 sacks a year is only making 1 play a game.

  2. I would say that Succoup and suh are the most expendable, but they won’t eat up much cap space. If he has to let to players go for cap reasons, I would guess it would be Godwin and Fournette. Of course I could be WAY wrong with my guess, and I’m sure other posters will have different, and probably better, predictions.

  3. And so the Age of Parity begins its annual attack, trying to turn Champs into 1-year dynasties. Bucs are relatively lucky, most winners will have more FAs and staff losses, and probably the best chance to repeat for some time. But to all you Belichick-is-a-terrible-GM Pats’ haters out there – who drafted Brady, Gronky, and most of the Pats’ rosters for the past 20yrs? Who kept them at the top for 20yrs despite almost always picking last? Who managed those rosters with economical trades and depth on both sides of the ball? Sure, Brady is a winner, but BB made him, and without BB as GM the Pats would’ve reached 3 or 4 SBs, not freakng 9 in 18 years!

  4. With the kicking debacle Tampa has experienced over the past 10 years, Succop finally added consistency to the kicking game. I don’t see them letting him get away. Not a major cap hit, but one I feel they are willing to make.

  5. mrnoname says:
    February 20, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    I would say that Succoup and suh are the most expendable, but they won’t eat up much cap space. If he has to let to players go for cap reasons, I would guess it would be Godwin and Fournette. Of course I could be WAY wrong with my guess, and I’m sure other posters will have different, and probably better, predictions.
    _____________________________________________________________________________

    If you are an outside fan looking in sure Succoup as a kicker might seem replaceable. That is not the case as a Bucs fan, the kicking situation was trash for years with guys like Barth, Santos, Aguayo, that one kicker they brought from Detroit. Ryan has been the problem solver in that position so they will need to bring him back.

  6. Good luck. The Bucs are only ~$14M under the cap. They might be lucky to be able to keep two. They are all going to want to get paid. No way Fournette takes less.

  7. therealraider says:
    February 20, 2021 at 12:06 pm
    Don’t overpay for a sack artist. A guy that gets 16 sacks a year is only making 1 play a game.—————————————————————
    That’s nonsense. For every sack, most pass rushers are getting 2-3 additional QB pressures and additional hits on the QB. A 16 sack guy also makes the OL coach and OC rethink their strategies to make sure they account for that guy, so it makes them less able to implement the most effective game plan for their team. While pass rushers are prone to fluctuations in sack numbers, most of the good ones impact games in ways that aren’t seen in the stat lines.

  8. If you think White is taking over play calling duties from David, you really are out of touch with this team. David will be the first guy they bring back if they’re trying to win again next year. He is the brainchild of that Bucs defense led by Bowles. White is extremely talented, but he isn’t ready yet to lead like David can.

  9. saying goodbye to linebacker Lavonte David, receiver Chris Godwin, would be easy because their replacements are already on the team.. Fournette is the only other expendable player on that list but I hope they can keep him!

  10. Foolish commentary on here. Fournette is gone. RoJo was injured and is better. Godwin did nothing all season and will want to get paid. Bye. Brown is unnecessary but could come back for pennies. Barrett, David, Gronk, Suh, and Sucoup will all be back. With the possible exception of David- who might hold out for max money. Suh wants to come back. Gronk won’t play anywhere else. Barrett was given a shot here and made the most of it. Loves it here. Champa Bay baby!

  11. “If you think White is taking over play calling duties from David, you really are out of touch with this team.”

    Coming from a guy who apparently didn’t know that White took over playcalling his rookie year, and it wasn’t even from David, but from Kwon Alexander, who was our Mike linebacker the year before. David was always a weakside linebacker, and Wills rarely call plays.

  12. I would think a heavily incentive laden contract that bumps up 2021 pay in 2022 for very easy to reach incentives is a potential way of doing this. I think we’re going to see some very creative contracts for FAs this off-season…

  13. Wah, wah, wah. Every team has it’s cap problems and starters who are looking for more money. Nobody feels sorry for the SB champs, except for their fans.

  14. streetyson says:
    February 20, 2021 at 12:19 pm
    Sure, Brady is a winner, but BB made him, and without BB as GM the Pats would’ve reached 3 or 4 SBs, not freakng 9 in 18 years!

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Brady made BB and the Patriots the Team they once were.

    Remove Brady and BB maybe gets 1 SB Ring.

    BB is a GREAT HC but terrible GM – They would of won more SBs if they kept BB out of the Draft except for Defense.

  15. Suh is essential. There was a reason Bowles and Arians targeted him immediately to replace Gerald McCoy. He elevated that whole defense and has done so most places he’s been. Even Aaron Donald benefited his one year there, and that’s usually vice versa. Barrett puts them in a pickle because it’s obviously a great fit, but this is the last time he’s probably going to be able to demand the big contract as a FA at that age. They might have to let him walk of all of the free agents if he can’t be fit under the cap. Godwin is gone unless they just are bent on keeping him, and David I can’t see leaving. They should be able to fit him if the other pieces come together.

  16. With enviable depth at WR –Miller, Brown, Evans, Johnson — and the best tight end room in the league, I think Godwin is the most likely of the Big Six to be elsewhere next season. Fournette is a possible loss, but he seems to be filled with gratitude for the Bucs for snatching him off the scrap heap and getting a ring. I think he stays for less than he could get elsewhere. The other four are locks to stay, with Barrett and David cashing in with long-term deals. Suh and Succop will get a nice bump, Suh for one year. Plus there’s the draft and free agency. Licht’s on a roll. Bottom line: Tampa Bay will have the best roster in the league next season.

  17. They’ll keep who they need, they’ll find a way with guys, they will lose some players and others will step up or another veteran will want to come over. If they lose Godwin, I believe OBJ is ready to come in. They have options, TB is the destination right now. They’ll be just fine. Focus needs to be on a lockdown CB, maybe get Patrick Peterson right now, with a solid lockdown CB that defense is gonna be even better.

  18. Keep Shaq/Suh/David. As a long suffering fan we went almost 10 years since Simeon Rice without a pass rush. Defence has kept them in a lot of games as well. Also Succop has to stay, no reliable kicker since Matt Bryant. Love Godwin but not at the 16-17 million that some team will probably pay for him. AB and Gronk will probably stay.

  19. I would say that the rest of the team is nice enough to lower their cap hit, so the team could be together e.g Mike Evans. Hopefully, the rest of the team would follow his lead and do the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom extended his contract to another year for cap purposes. If they don’t get Suh or Barrett back JJ. Watt is a viable option if avaliable.

  20. You read it here first:

    Bucs will let Godwin walk. He couldn’t catch a playoff pass if he used Velcro gloves.

    No doubt Belichick will look at an injured, 34 year old Edelman, with a $6 million cap hit, and cut him loose.

    He will immediately sign with Tampa for short money, to be reunited with TB12 and Gronk.

    Not one fan will miss Godwin.

  21. Its gonna be tough to afford Godwin or Barrett. The Bucs are already over the cap and both will command roughly $20 million per year. Fournette was good but will get overpaid as a free agent. It makes the most financial sense to try and keep Suh, Gronk, Succop, David, and Brown, if they can afford all five.

  22. Godwin had a great season, not sure why people are taking shots at him.

    His catch against Green Bay in the NFC championship was unreal.

  23. If any of you think David is going anywhere- you’re crazy. He’s been a Buc for 10yrs and has suffered thru some HORRIBLE teams. He’s made good money and has taken team friendly deals in the past. The Bucs have a salary cap master in their office- no way David abandons ship now after finally reaching not only the playoffs for the first time in his 10yr career, but winning a Superbowl. He and White have a tight bond also. No way he walks unless he extremely low balled.

  24. streetyson says:
    February 20, 2021 at 12:19 pm
    And so the Age of Parity begins its annual attack, trying to turn Champs into 1-year dynasties. Bucs are relatively lucky, most winners will have more FAs and staff losses, and probably the best chance to repeat for some time. But to all you Belichick-is-a-terrible-GM Pats’ haters out there – who drafted Brady, Gronky, and most of the Pats’ rosters for the past 20yrs? Who kept them at the top for 20yrs despite almost always picking last? Who managed those rosters with economical trades and depth on both sides of the ball? Sure, Brady is a winner, but BB made him, and without BB as GM the Pats would’ve reached 3 or 4 SBs, not freakng 9 in 18 years!
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Never mind that BB, as a HC, has missed the playoffs 6 out of 7 seasons that he didn’t have a guy named Brady behind center. BB made Brady? BB thought so much of Brady that he took him in the 6th round. He thought so much of Stidham that he was taken by BB in the 4th round. Did BB think Stidham had more potential, or did he just get lucky with Brady? Both? If BB made Brady, then Stidham should easily be able to take over now. Tell us all how he was able to improve Newton through 16 games.

  25. The impression I get is that Suh wants to stay and win a Super Bowl. But he’s made plenty of money. Fournette and Brown would be wise to stay.

  26. Godwin should be gone. Can’t help himself by dropping passes. Barrett will be too expensive to keep.

  27. Whatever they do, must keep Barrett and David, Godwin and Fournette are goners, maybe Suh takes a paycut and Gronk will be cheap
    Will be interesting what happens with AB, if he’s gone they draft WR in the first round

  28. They can get Suh cheap, Gronk and Brown resign. Beyond those 3. Idk if any should be a priority

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