Welcome to the Game Changer Sports Network Free Agency Preview series. In this series we will be looking at all 32 teams over the next 32 days and breaking down their key free agents going into the off-season. We will also predict if they re-sign or walk to go get paid. Today we start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
To start their free agency preview lets take a look at where they are and how they got here. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers walk into this off-season fresh of a Super Bowl victory. At the start of this season they signed a lot of veteran talent to one year deals. People like LeSean McCoy, Leonard Fournette, and Antonio Brown. All of those deals run up and now they, as well as others, need to be paid. Tampa Bay goes into the off-season 6th in the league with $38 million in cap space.
Free Agency Preview: Key Free Agents
WR – Chris Godwin (24 Years Old)
Godwin played on just 62.8% of offensive snaps in 2020. This was down from 82% in his breakout year of 2019. He didn’t play in four games this season due to hip and quad injuries. Godwin caught 65 receptions on 84 targets and went for 840 yards. He added on seven touchdowns to his resume as well. In his career he has 244 receptions for 3,540 yards, and 24 touchdowns.
Godwin has been a standout on this team since he started getting some starting time in 2018. His breakout year in 2019 really cemented his name around the league. He is now at the end of his rookie contract and he will be paid like a star WR. If he hits the open market I would expect him to sign a deal making on average $16 million per year. Expect him to sign a four to five year deal if he hits the market or gets re-signed.
Prediction: Franchise Tag
LB – Shaquil Barrett (28 Years Old)
Shaq Barrett has been an absolute force to be reckoned with since he left the mile high city in favor of a much warmer climate. In Barrett’s two season in Tampa Bay he racked up 115 tackles, 27.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 8 forced fumbles. In his five years in Denver he produced 151 tackles, 14 sacks, and 7 forced fumbles. Barrett’s 19.5 sacks led the league in 2019. As a force on a defense, Barrett has really turned into one of the games best while with the Buccaneers.
At just 28 years old there will be a huge market for him if he does hit the open market. Tampa Bay franchise tagged him for the 2020 season, which made him $15 million on that tag to play this year. It is very unlikely that they tag him again and pay him 120% of his salary from last year. With that being said, I believe he will hit the open market where his market value will be in the ballpark of $18 million on average per year.
Prediction: Free Agency
LB – Lavonte David (31 Years Old)
David was originally drafted in the second round, 58th overall in the 2012 by Tampa Bay. Since then he has spent his entire career with the Buccaneers. In his nine seasons in the NFL he has amassed 1125 tackles, 24 sacks, 12 interceptions, 24 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, and 3 defensive touchdowns. He is a one time Pro-Bowler and a one time All-Pro.
At 31 years old, David will not be the most attractive potential name on the market this off-season but he will have a market. He is at the end of a contract that paid him $50.25 million over the last five years. Look for him to sign a two year deal worth around $10-$11 million per year. He very well may take below market value to run it back in Tampa Bay next season as well. If he takes a “hometown discount,” I would expect it to be in the area of $7-$8 million per year.
NT – Ndamukong Suh (34 Years Old)
Suh is a five time Pro-Bowler, three time All-Pro, and a member of the all 2010’s team. This season Suh was a major driving force in the Buccaneers shutting down the run up the middle. He finished 2020 with 44 tackles, 9 for loss, 6 Sacks, a Forced Fumble, and 19 QB Hits. Even as Suh gets up there in age he shows no sign of slowing down.
Suh signed a one year deal to come back to the Buccaneers at the start of the season. He inked the deal for $8 million. If he hits the open market I would expect him to get another one year contract somewhere around $5 million. He’s another guy that could sign a one year deal worth below market value to attempt to run it back.
TE – Rob Gronkowski (31 Years Old)
Gronkowski came out of retirement to run it back with Brady once again. He wasn’t the biggest target for Tom during the season but as soon as the playoffs started he was a force once again. This was a well played situation by the Buccaneers given his injury history. Gronk being a main target for a full season will normally get himself injured. This season he caught 45 passes on 77 targets and went for 623 yards and 7 touchdowns. He played in his first full season for the first time since 2011 (his second season).
This is almost a mute point. Rob Gronkowski does not play a single down in the NFL if Tom Brady isn’t his QB. The Buccaneers traded for his rights out of New England before this season and payed him $9 million. Gronkowski has made his money in the NFL and likely will take any contract thrown in front of him to stay on the field with Tom.
RB – Leonard Fournette (26 Years Old)
Leonard Fournette made his way out of Jacksonville to start the year. After that he decided to sign a very team friendly cheap deal to play with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. He started the season off slow, but found his moxy in the playoffs. He became a huge reason why they won the Super Bowl. Fournette only ran the ball 97 times for 367 yards this season. This was by far the lowest number of carries in his career since Jacksonville ran him into the ground every season. He showed that he still has what it takes to be a premier back in the NFL.
Fournette is in an interesting situation after the season he had with the Buccaneers. On one hand he could take a below market deal and stick around to try to run it back. On the other hand he could leave and get paid. Running Backs in the NFL have a very short lifespan where they can get a big contract and Fournette is in that window right now. If he were to hit the open market then I would expect the contract to be three to four years and worth around $36 million. That would be $9 million per season on average.
Prediction: Free Agency
WR – Antonio Brown (32 Years Old)
Tampa Bay signed Brown mid-season to add another weapon to the offense in lieu of the injuries they were dealing with at the time. Both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were missing games and Brown was just coming off his eight game suspension. In those eight weeks, Brown was able to snag 45 receptions for 483 yards and 4 touchdowns. His game against Atlanta in week 17 showed that he didn’t miss a beat in the full year that he missed. He caught the ball 11 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
The Buccaneers decided to bring in Brown mid season to add another weapon to Tom Brady’s offense. They signed him to a one year, a $1.6 million deal. For Brown this was a prove you can still play and not be a headache to your team type of deal. Look for him to sign a two year deal worth somewhere around $10 million total on the open market. If he opts to stay with Tampa Bay then expect another one year deal.
Prediction: Free Agency
RB – LeSean McCoy (32 Years Old)
McCoy just won his second Super Bowl in two years. He didn’t play a single down in either game. That’s the most impressive stat that came out of the game this year. McCoy was just kind of there all season. He wasn’t really used much, or at all in this offense.
Tampa Bay signed McCoy to a one-year, $1 million deal at the start of the season. I don’t think he re-signs with Tampa Bay. I don’t see him signing anywhere. Shady has had a good career but I’m pretty sure that this is where he will hang the cleats up.
UPDATE AS OF 2/9/2021: LeSean McCoy Announced his retirement.
Free Agency Preview: Everyone Else
OFFENSE: QB Blaine Gabbert, QB Ryan Griffin, RB T.J. Logan, RB Kenjon Barner, TE Antony Auclair, TE Tanner Hudson, OG Aaron Stinnie, OT Josh Wells, OL Joe Haeg, C A.Q. Shipley
DEFENSE: DL Steve McLendon, DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DL Pat O’Connor, LB Kevin Minter, LB Deone Bucannon, LB Jack Cichy, CB Ross Cockrell, CB Ryan Smith, S Andrew Adams
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Ryan Succop, KR Jaydon Mickens, LS Zach Triner
Check back every couple of days right here on GameChangerSportsNetwork.com as we slowly go through every single teams Free Agency Preview leading all the way up to NFL Free Agency!
Other Free Agency Previews:
*All Contract and Cap Room numbers provided by www.spotrac.com/nfl/*
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