The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have managed to keep all of the main contributors from their Super Bowl run in the early days of free agency. They franchise-tagged star wideout Chris Godwin and signed Shaq Barrett to a long-term deal. They also re-signed Lavonte David and Rob Gronkowski. Tampa is inevitably going to lose some players, but they got their big ones.
Tom Brady's contract restructure gave the team the wiggle room needed to make those deals while having enough money left over to make more moves. After the above signings, the Bucs are estimated to have about $3.6 million in cap space as of now. The team is reportedly in talks to bring back Ndamukong Suh as the centerpiece of their defensive line, a deal that would likely take up the remainder of their cap space if it gets done. But Tampa has several veterans under contract for 2021 who could sign extensions or restructure their deals to create more room, like left tackle Donovan Smith, receiver Mike Evans, center Ryan Jensen, or guard Ali Marpet, as outlined by Pewter Report here.
The short of all that is the Bucs have the money to keep their biggest guys and make some moves on the margins. Nothing crazy. They aren't going out and signing Kenny Golladay. But there's enough money to bring in a piece or two they felt they were missing last season. Pieces that Brady would simply love to have around. Pieces that used to reside in Foxborough.
That's right. The Bucs, for the second season in the row, look like they want to pilfer Brady's favorite targets from New England and bring them south to warmer pastures. They're reportedly interested in free agent RB James White, long one of the best pass-catching backs in the league and a constant connection for Brady through three Super Bowls.
This would be the ultimate "bring in the guy Brady likes" move, even more so than convincing Gronk to unretire and force a trade to Florida. White was Brady's safety blanket for years, as consistent and reliable as any Pats receiver throughout the entire 20-year run while also being a running back. Brady pretty clearly missed his presence in his first season in Tampa as Bruce Arians attempted to convert Leonard Fournette and then Ronald Jones into half-decent pass-catchers out of the backfield throughout the year. He was unsuccessful in that endeavor, and Brady made do. But if they can, why not get the real thing?
It may not be the only Brady regular heading south. There have been no official reports linking Julian Edelman to the Bucs, or even an inkling of any information that it could be a real possibility. That didn't stop Mike Tannebaum from spending time on Get Up this morning linking Edelman to Tampa Bay because the Bucs haven't re-signed Antonio Brown and the Patriots signed four pass-catchers in the first 24 hours of free agency.
White is a free agent, has made good money for a running back in his career, and has several rings. It is not at all out of the realm of possibility that he takes a small deal to reunite with Brady in Tampa. Edelman presents more of a challenge, given he is still under contract and the Patriots are probably not eager to part with one of their very few reliable receivers even after their free agency bonanza. Given Edelman is on his last legs, a deal could be struck. He wouldn't be particularly impactful, but come playoff time Brady loves to look for his guys.
Brady already has all the weapons he needs at his disposal, as evidenced by the seventh ring sitting on his finger. The Bucs are going all-in. White is a possibility, Edelman a slimmer one. But if Brady has his way, the Tampa Bay area will be filled with New England transplants. As it was always meant to be.