Buccanneers' Early Report Card for Most Impactful Offseason Decisions
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have decided to run it back with the majority of the players who won Super Bowl LV.
General manager Jason Licht found a way to keep Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David off the free-agent market, and he used the franchise tag on Chris Godwin.
Those three moves were the most important ones to Tampa Bay's offseason success since they were the most impactful players scheduled to hit free agency.
The Bucs kept them away from rival contenders and are poised to make a run at back-to-back titles with Tom Brady at the helm.
Tampa Bay will not bring back its entire 53-man roster, but with all the key pieces except for Leonard Fournette on track to return, it should be viewed as the favorite to win the NFC.
Re-Signed Shaquil Barrett
Tampa Bay kept the top pass-rusher, and arguably the No. 1 overall free agent, off the market by inking him to a four-year, $72 million deal.
Barrett is more than deserving of the large payday after he was a menace off the edges for the last two seasons.
Barrett's deal is structured in a team-friendly way that keeps the Bucs within the salary cap. There is $36 million in guaranteed money, and his salary cap hit for 2021 will be $5.6 million, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The 2021 cap hit is important for the Bucs because they have to pay the cost of Godwin's franchise tag and deal with some of the other large contracts on the roster.
By keeping Barrett in Tampa, the Bucs should have an elite pass-rush once again, and it could be even more dangerous if Vita Vea is healthy for the entire season.
Re-Signed Lavonte David
A few weeks ago, David's return seemed more likely than Barrett's.
The linebacker has played his entire career with the Bucs and did not seem like he had much interest in departing the franchise.
David agreed to a two-year, $25 million deal that was announced prior to the opening of the legal tampering window.
During his tenure, David has been one of the most consistent players at his position, and he could get even better with Devin White playing alongside him for at least two more seasons.
In eight of his nine seasons, David recorded over 100 tackles and at least 10 tackles for loss. He only missed seven regular-season games in that span.
The long-term consistency made it easy for the Bucs to retain David's services, and as he gets older, he can continue to groom White into the leader of the defense.
The Bucs did not tie themselves to a long-term deal with David, and if they believe White is ready to lead the defense in the coming years, they could either opt to let David walk, or bring him back on a cheaper deal for an older veteran and pay White after his rookie deal expires.
Used Franchise Tag on Chris Godwin
It made sense from the Bucs' perspective to use the franchise tag on Godwin.
Tampa Bay may not have been able to afford the wide receiver's large contract demands this offseason with Barrett and David in line for new deals.
With Godwin, the Bucs are using the same strategy they did with Barrett last offseason, and Godwin could be in line for a massive payday next spring.
Godwin is too important to the Tampa Bay offense to have him potentially walk in free agency. He and Mike Evans formed a terrific partnership with Tom Brady, and the Bucs do not have a player waiting in the wings to take over his high volume yet.
The 25-year-old recorded at least 800 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. He has the potential to be a 1,000-yard wideout in 2021 if he plays all 16 games.
With Evans and Godwin together for at least another year, the Bucs have time to develop Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson, or any other wideouts they may select in the NFL draft.
If Miller and Johnson take steps up in their progression, the Bucs could have a more dynamic offense than they did in 2020, which is a scary thought for any of their opponents.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.