As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sailed into a championship sunset, a common theme on a celebratory Wednesday was an all-star cast returning for 2021 and endeavoring to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
However, as a great many stars followed Tom Brady to Tampa Bay, they did so on a short-term basis, which does forecast some storm clouds drifting in upon the team’s sunny celebration.
After all, the Buccaneers’ title-winning team and performance was unlike any before it.
In the Bucs’ 31-9 Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay became the first team in the game’s history to have all of its points scored by players who were not on the team the previous season, according to NFL Research.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski (two touchdowns), running back Leonard Fournette (TD), receiver Antonio Brown (TD) and kicker Ryan Succop (field goal and four extra points) accounted for all 31 of the Buccaneers’ points.
And all four players are impending free agents.
Boding well for the Buccaneers, however, is that there has never been a Super Bowl squad — the winner or loser — which lost every player that scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl the following season, per NFL Research.
Boding badly for the Buccaneers, though, is that there’s a lengthy list of free agents beyond Gronk, Playoff Lenny, A.B. and the greatest “Mr. Irrelevant” of all-time.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin, linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh are also bound for the free agency waters.
With $28.39 million in camp space heading into the 2021 season, per Over The Cap, the Bucs have the eighth-most cap space in the league. And they’ll need it.
Their goal is to repeat as Super Bowl champions, which would end the longest drought in between back-to-back winners in NFL history, as it extends back to Brady’s 2003-04 New England Patriots.
Tampa Bay has interest in bringing Fournette back, but that could depend on the interest he gets elsewhere, which could be substantial after he tallied 135 scrimmage yards and the game-clinching touchdown in the Super Bowl. Gronkowski’s made his intentions known and that’s to return. Having played 2020 on the franchise tag, Barrett’s made it clear he wants to get paid.
Ahead of the 2020 season, the Buccaneers started with Brady and went from there with key additions. After hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, it’s fair to surmise the Bucs won the offseason, as well.
They might just have to win another offseason if they’re going to pull off winning another Super Bowl.
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