3 Contracts Buccaneers Must Prioritize in 2022 Offseason After Playoff Loss

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2022

3 Contracts Buccaneers Must Prioritize in 2022 Offseason After Playoff Loss

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    Alex Menendez/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face a potentially transformational offseason.

    Quarterback Tom Brady's future is up in the air. The 44-year-old will decide if he comes back for another season in the coming weeks. Even if Brady returns, the Buccaneers have a lot to do in the offseason to make sure they are at the top of the list of NFC title contenders.

    Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and Ryan Jensen are among the many Tampa Bay players set to hit the free-agent market.

    Godwin was hit with the franchise tag for the 2021 campaign. He suffered a torn ACL in December, which may hurt his value and benefit the Bucs when it comes to negotiating a deal. Jensen should have a ton of suitors as teams across the NFL look to improve their offensive lines, while Gronkowski's fate may tied to Brady's.

    Tampa Bay is not going to bring back all of its free agents because of age, contract demands and having younger players ready to step up at certain positions, but it needs to make sure some of the top roster pieces from previous seasons are still in place.

Chris Godwin

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    Chris Godwin comes into the offseason as an in-demand free agent recovering from a torn ACL.

    Godwin's injury situation may affect his status on the free-agent market, which may benefit Tampa Bay's attempts to re-sign the wide receiver. Godwin produced the second 1,000-yard season of his career before he suffered the torn ACL against the New Orleans Saints in Week 15.

    Tampa Bay could use Godwin back in the fold with or without Brady because its current crop of young wide receivers were not up to the task during his absence. Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller came nowhere close to filling the void created by Godwin's absence in the playoffs. Jaelon Darden is a nice young wide receiver, but he mainly contributed on special teams.

    A Mike Evans-Godwin partnership would stabilize the position whether or not Tom Brady opts to return for another season.

    Re-signing Godwin makes Tampa Bay an intriguing destination for any quarterback, whether it is a veteran free agent or an early 2022 NFL draft pick.

    Tampa Bay should put a ton of effort into bringing back Godwin to ensure that the franchise is in the best possible place for success in 2022.

Ryan Jensen

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    Alex Menendez/Associated Press

    Tampa Bay needs to keep together its offensive line to either help Brady chase another Super Bowl or aid the transition to a new quarterback.

    Ryan Jensen would be a massive presence to have on the interior to help with either one of those goals during the 2022 season.

    Tristan Wirfs, Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith are all under contract for 2022, and it would make sense to bring back Jensen to that group to keep with the stability there.

    Tampa Bay should prioritize re-signing Jensen over some of its defensive free agents because of the ages and potential contract demands of Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh and Richard Sherman.

    The Bucs should make an attempt to get younger on defense. That could be done through the draft or with younger free agents to fill in around Devin White, Shaquil Barrett and others.

    The NFC South side should commit some of its offseason budget to a new Jensen contract to ensure only one area of the roster must be improved if Brady comes back.

Rob Gronkowski

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    Alex Menendez/Associated Press

    Rob Gronkowski's fate feels like it may be tied to Tom Brady's future.

    Gronkowski came out of retirement to join his former New England Patriots teammate in Tampa Bay prior to last season. The veteran tight end is a free agent, and he may feel content with retiring if his career-long teammate hangs up his cleats as well.

    If Brady returns, Gronkowski should be at the top of the free-agent targets because of his relationship with the quarterback and the impact he could make at the start of the 2022 season.

    Tampa Bay could use help in the passing attack, even if re-signs Godwin, because the wide receiver may need some time to get acclimated following his recovery from his ACL injury.

    Brady would need to rely on Gronkowski and Mike Evans to navigate the early part of the schedule while integrating some of the younger wide receivers into the system.

    If Brady retires and Gronkowski still wants to play, the Bucs should target him for the same reasons in order to bring some consistency to the offense to help a new quarterback to get into a rhythm.