While no signing can be finalized until free agency officially opens March 18 at 4 p.m. ET, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are off to an exciting start.
Early in the week, Tampa placed the franchise tag on pass-rusher Shaq Barrett and agreed to terms with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. And then Tuesday, it was reported that Tom Brady is leaving the New England Patriots for the Bucs.
The decision happened rather quickly too. Tuesday morning, Brady announced he would not return to New England. In the afternoon, Rapoport noted both Tampa and Los Angeles had made strong offers—believed to be 30-plus million per season—to Brady. ESPN's report followed in the early evening.
And it's fair to say Buccaneers fans are excited.
Tampa was fortunate to execute Plan A, but the team explored a few backup options in case Brady went elsewhere.
ESPN's Jenna Laine noted the Bucs had "definite" interest in Teddy Bridgewater, who ended up agreeing to a contract with the Carolina Panthers. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano previously reported the Bucs planned to evaluate Philip Rivers. Tuesday, he reportedly chose to join the Indianapolis Colts.
Plus, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs had kept "very close" communication with incumbent starter Jameis Winston. Unless he's willing to hold a backup role, Winston is no longer a candidate to re-sign.
Jason Pierre-Paul, conversely, is set to return.
Schefter reported the signing, and Greg Auman of The Athletic noted the defensive end agreed to a two-year contract worth $25 million. Over two seasons and 26 appearances with Tampa, JPP has collected 85 tackles and 21 sacks.
Pierre-Paul will again line up opposite Barrett, who enjoyed a breakout year with 19.5 sacks in 2019. During the previous four seasons on the Denver Broncos, he'd managed 14 total.
Yes, Barrett could negotiate with another team because the Bucs used the non-exclusive franchise tag. But if they didn't match an offer, the signing organization would need to send Tampa two first-round draft picks. It's safe to say that's highly unlikely, and no rumors have suggested it's even a possibility.
Rounding out Tampa's updates from the first two days of the negotiation window, the Bucs agreed to a one-year deal with backup tight end Antony Auclair, per Stroud. Auclair only has 10 career catches but is used primarily as a blocker.
But with Brady committed to join the team, other free agents are more likely to have interest in Tampa.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.