Buccaneers' Offseason Priorities After Super Bowl 55 Win vs. Chiefs
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance to bring back the majority of their roster to attempt a repeat Super Bowl championship.
Tampa Bay has some tough decisions to make on some free agents, including Chris Godwin and Lavonte David, but it can make the case that it holds the best possible situation for all players on the open market.
The Buccaneers will still have Tom Brady in place at quarterback, and parts of their dominant defense are under contract for the 2021 season.
General manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians do have some roster turnover to take care of, especially at running back.
Leonard Fournette's playoff performances could lead to him getting a larger deal elsewhere, and there may not be enough trust in Ronald Jones II to make him the primary back, even in a two-man system.
Attempt to Bring Back Lavonte David And/Or Shaquil Barrett
Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David might be the two hardest free agents to bring back for 2021 and beyond.
Barrett should command a high price on the free-agent market after he produced eight regular-season sacks and four takedowns in the last two playoff contests. In two seasons with Tampa Bay, Barrett earned 27.5 sacks and tallied 53 quarterback hits.
If the Bucs can work out even a short-term deal with Barrett to come back, it would put them in a great position to repeat with him playing alongside Jason Pierre-Paul.
It may take less convincing to bring back David since he has been a lifelong Tampa Bay player. He played each of his nine seasons with the franchise.
David will be valued by plenty of teams, but he is three years older than Barrett, and the defensive end is a better pass-rusher.
Tampa Bay can likely bring David back on a cheaper deal than Barrett, and the 31-year-old could still be a productive part of the front seven. If the Bucs pair David and Devin White together again, they should have a tenacious linebacker unit to support whomever starts on the edges.
If Barrett opts to go somewhere else, the Bucs could either go after a veteran player on the free-agent market, or search for his replacement in the 2021 NFL draft.
Run It Back with Chris Godwin
How the Bucs shape their offense could affect which players they can afford on defense.
Godwin should be the priority of the three since he can form a partnership with Mike Evans for years to come and with Brady at the helm for at least another year.
One way the Bucs can afford Godwin's return is through the franchise tag, which would be $15.8 million for a wide receiver, per Over the Cap's Jason Fitzgerald.
Godwin experienced a dip in numbers from 2019 to 2020, but that drop can be credited to the abundance of receiving options and two fewer games played.
The fourth-year player has at least 59 receptions, 840 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his last three seasons.
Replacing Godwin's production would put the Bucs in a tough position. If Brown or Gronkowski do not come back, they could bump up the roles of Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson and Cameron Brate, or make some bargain additions in free agency or the draft.
If the Bucs do not re-sign Brown or Gronkowski, it should open up some more cash to entice David or Barrett to stay.
Revamp the Running Back Depth Chart
Fournette was fantastic during the Super Bowl run, but he may not command a deal that the Bucs can justify.
With David, Barrett and Godwin on the to-do list of signings, Tampa Bay should let Fournette walk unless a team-friendly deal emerges.
At minimum, the Bucs could run with Jones and Ke'Shawn Vaughn as a one-two punch, but there could be concerns about Jones' past production.
Jones had 978 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season, but he was not a major factor in the games prior to the Super Bowl. He also started more than 10 games for the first time in three seasons.
If the Bucs do not fully trust Jones and Vaughn's ceiling is a third-down back, they should explore the market for a second marquee back.
Plenty of teams struck gold in the 2020 NFL draft, and the Bucs could find some value in the middle rounds of April's selection process.
If they move on from Fournette and bolster the depth chart behind Jones, the Bucs could make up for some losses in the passing game and take some pressure off Brady in the regular season with an effective ground game.
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Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.