Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Bucs Cap Wizardry, Team-Friendly Tom Brady & a Drew Brees-less NFC South | Carmen Catches Up

Legal tampering begins before free agency opens on Wednesday but here’s a look at what the Bucs have done so far.

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-Where to even begin? Legal tampering begins today with full-fledged free agency opening on Wednesday. The Bucs have made some precluding moves though, franchise tagging wide receiver Chris Godwin and signing inside linebacker Lavonte David to a two-year contract extension. The Bucs are somehow doing all this with extremely limited cap space, with the 2021 cap being announced at $182.5 million. That's down from $198.2 million in 2020. Tampa Bay and their cap wizards aren't done yet, though. They still have some unsigned players set to become free agents, the biggest of which is outside linebacker Shaq Barrett. Things seem to be trending in the right direction there, though. Wink wink.

-To make those moves, the Bucs needed to clear up some cap space and were able to do so by extending 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady last Friday. It's technically a four-year extension that is voidable after one. In short, it means Brady is a Buccaneer through 2022 now. The restructure made Brady less of a cap hit this year, which in turn should allow the Bucs more flexibility when it comes to keeping other players. This isn't something new for Brady, either. He's notorious for taking team-friendly deals and restructuring his contracts in order to help the organization retain or go after talent. Talk about a team-first guy, right?

-On top of keeping a handful of defensive players, many draft pundits are picking the Bucs to take a defensive player with their first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay won't be picking until 32, which is a worthwhile trade-off to winning the Super Bowl, if you ask me. Two of the most popular names being thrown around are defensive lineman Levin Onwuzurike out of Washington and edge rusher Jaelan Phillips out of Miami. To read more about the rationale behind the picks, you can read our weekly mock draft roundups.

-In case you somehow missed it, Saints quarterback Drew Brees officially announced his retirement Sunday night. He will be joining NBC Sports as an analyst in the next chapter of his career. Now, for the first time in 15 years, the Bucs will face an NFC South that doesn't include Brees as an opponent they'll face twice a year. Does that potentially clear the path even more to #GoFor2?

-The Bucs were awarded one of 32 compensatory picks for this upcoming draft. They lost defensive tackle Beau Allen, outside linebacker Carl Nassib and wide receiver Breshad Perriman in free agency before last year. Signing Brady mitigated some of that loss so Tampa Bay was given a sixth-round pick at No. 216 overall.

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