The Bucs entrance workplace has made it no secret that their total focus this offseason rests on one goal: re-signing all of their key free brokers to maintain the band collectively for an additional Tremendous Bowl run. In fact, this goal has many crucial sub-objectives, highlighted by the need to retain huge receiver Chris Godwin, linebacker Lavonte David and out of doors linebacker Shaq Barrett.
Two down, one to go.
On Tuesday, the Bucs franchise-tagged Godwin at a value of just below $16 million for the 2021 season, making certain that he will likely be again in Tampa Bay for an additional run at a title this yr. Godwin had 65 catches for 840 yards and 7 touchdowns in lower than 12 full video games of motion final season. With a season nearer to his 2019 marketing campaign (86-1,333-9), Godwin may look to reset the market at huge receiver subsequent offseason.
Along with tagging Godwin yesterday, the Bucs re-signed David to a two-year deal for $25 million, together with $20 million assured. The crew added three void years to the deal, serving to to decrease David’s cap hit for the 2021 season to only $3.5 million. The contract would possibly enable David to complete his profession as a Buc, contemplating he’ll be 33 when he’s set to hit free company once more.
So with David and Godwin counting for near a mixed $20 million in opposition to the Bucs cap in 2021, what does that imply for Barrett’s pending free agent standing?
At present the Bucs are about $5.5 million over the cap, however that quantity gained’t imply a lot after the crew makes some extra contract strikes to clear more room within the coming days. There are a number of paths to extra cap area that the Bucs can take, as they’re among the many league leaders in cap area for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. This permits them numerous flexibility to push cash into future years, one thing they haven’t actually accomplished beneath GM Jason Licht, largely as a result of they haven’t had a lot motive to take action.
So sure, the way in which the crew structured David’s contract to incorporate three void years and decrease his cap quantity considerably for the 2021 season signifies they’re making ready to go all in on a suggestion to Barrett that will compete with the perfect offers he’ll get on the open market. The Bucs have stated each step of the way in which how severe they’re about retaining Barrett, and Barrett has stated he desires to be again in Tampa Bay. Having that synergy going into free company definitely elevates the possibilities of the crew and participant understanding an settlement, even after the bullets begin flying.
Evaluating Free Company Choices For Barrett
Now, will that be sufficient to make sure Barrett’s return? Not essentially. Whereas the Bucs will certainly be in place to make Barrett a extremely aggressive provide, he may nonetheless choose to discover free company and consider his choices. Bear in mind, Barrett has by no means actually acquired the large pay day, and at 28 years outdated, he is aware of that is his final and finest probability to gather the large, long-term contract. Groups just like the Jaguars, Jets and Colts are in determined want of cross rush assist and have a ton of cap area this offseason, which may entice them to throw loopy cash at Barrett to get him to go away Tampa Bay.
In fact, Barrett may nonetheless take any provide he will get again to the Bucs to see if they’ll match it. For what it’s price, I don’t suppose even the perfect affords Barrett receives will strategy the average-per-year cap hits or the general assured cash of the three highest-paid edge defenders within the NFL:
Joey Bosa – $27M per yr, $102M assured
Myles Garrett – $25M per yr, $100M assured
Khalil Mack – $23.5M per yr, $90M assured
However Barrett may are available in just below that, and $22 million per yr would put him over the fourth-highest paid edge defender within the NFL in Demarcus Lawrence. That’s some huge cash, however I don’t suppose it’s far-fetched that one of many three aforementioned groups would provide him that. Move rushers are coveted belongings, and Barrett is simply 28 with two years and one terrific playoff run of wonderful manufacturing as a starter.
If Barrett is given a high-end provide within the $21-22 million per yr vary, the Bucs may match it outright or provide extra in ensures. In the event that they don’t do both of these issues, they’d most likely be on the mercy of Barrett deciding if he values a pair million extra to play in Jacksonville or New York for rebuilding franchises over attempting to win a second straight Tremendous Bowl on probably the greatest rosters within the league in Tampa Bay. Barrett is entitled to both choice, however it’s unlikely he’ll stroll into a greater spot for him professionally than Tampa Bay, even when there’s a spot on the market that could be a little higher for him financially.
For now, the Bucs will give attention to extending/restructuring Tom Brady’s contract and different strikes to clear cap area, together with attainable restructures for WR Mike Evans and OG Ali Marpet, short-term extensions for C Ryan Jensen and OLB Jason Pierre-Paul or maybe long-term, greater offers for OT Donovan Smith or CB Carlton Davis. The potential for pay cuts or outright cuts for TE Cam Brate and DL Will Gholston additionally exists, with Brate and his $6.5 million cap hit way more prone to be launched than Gholston ($5.5M).
Bear in mind, Barrett is the most important identify left in free company, however the Bucs need to return as a lot of fellow free brokers TE Rob Gronkowski, DT Ndamukong Suh, WR Antonio Brown, Okay Ryan Succop and RB Leonard Fournette as attainable. That may require some creativity with the cap that Tampa Bay’s entrance workplace has by no means needed to do earlier than.
So there are nonetheless a number of avenues for the Bucs to get the band again collectively for 2021 and past. The query is how far the entrance workplace is keen to go to make sure it occurs. The authorized tampering interval without spending a dime company opens on March 15, and free company formally will get underway on March 17 at 4pm EST.