-Happy New Year, everyone! And no, I'm not stuck in some months-long time warp, though the pandemic sometimes makes it feel like I am. The new league year for the NFL began on Wednesday, March 17, meaning it's now 'defending Super Bowl champs' season for the Bucs. The mark also coincides with the official start of free agency following 48 hours of a 'legal tampering' period in which potential free agents could begin negotiating with teams.
The team itself can't announce contracts until they're officially signed, but that didn't mean there wasn't news to report the rest of this week. Prior to the opening of free agency, the Bucs had already locked wide receiver Chris Godwin in via the franchise tag and re-signed inside linebacker Lavonte David to a two-year deal. They also extended quarterback Tom Brady an additional year with three more voidable years after 2022. And that was all before free agency officially opened.
-On Wednesday, the team announced a long-term deal with maybe their most high-profile free agent left in outside linebacker Shaq Barrett. He signed a one-year deal with the Bucs in 2019 and proceeded to lead the team (and the league) in sacks with 19.5. He was then franchise tagged in 2020, playing on the tag while trying to reach a long-term deal with the Bucs.
"Jason Licht was really honest and stuck to his word all the time," Barrett said on Wednesday. "He said he will work to try to do something long term and that's what he was able to do."
Now, Barrett can put down roots, which he's looking forward to. He decided to start by becoming a Tampa Bay Lightning fan, it looks like. Barrett brought the Lombardi Trophy with him to a game at Amalie Arena on Thursday. Team Tampa Bay, am I right?
-With the signing of Barrett, it meant that Head Coach Bruce Arians kept his 'spirited' promises from the team's celebratory boat parade. During the course of the afternoon as Godwin, David and Barrett got on the mic – Arians interjected saying, "You're a** ain't going nowhere!"
And true to his word, they didn't. Despite cap concerns and an unorthodox year again due to the pandemic, 'going for two' certainly starts now.
-The Bucs weren't done, either. They also re-signed guard Aaron Stinnie, who had come in during the playoffs and thrust into a starting role due to Alex Cappa going down with injury after the Wild Card round. It means Stinnie had to make his first start of the year in the Divisional Round against the division-rival Saints in New Orleans. Not an easy task but Stinnie rose to the challenge, starting each game after as the offensive line remained consistent through their Super Bowl victory against the Chiefs. Stinnie was originally signed to the team off waivers in 2019 from the Tennessee Titans and will now continue with the Buccaneers.
For a full list of where the Bucs are at with regards to the 2021 roster and pending free agents, check out our Free Agency Tracker.
-Fresh off signing his new deal with the Bucs, David went on the I Am Athlete podcast, where he had a very candid discussion with hosts Brandon Marshall, Fred Taylor, Channing Crowder and Ryan Clark, who was subbing in for Chad Johnson. David revealed the team he hates playing the most, acknowledged that he isn't given the credit he deserves and deflected praise to another man who never seeks recognition: Todd Bowles. It was an excellent conversation and you can see the full thing here.
Bucs Tweet of the Day: