-A report date has been announced for rookies. It seems football is really coming back. The Bucs are summoning rookies on July 23, the same date quarterbacks are also scheduled to report. It's two days after the initial July 21 report date and a week ahead of when veteran players are scheduled to report July 28. It's the first step to football returning as the NFL begins to navigate the process amid the coronavirus pandemic.
-Full Madden ratings were released on Friday and the Bucs saw an uptick pretty much across the board. The team was rated overall at an 83, which tied them for the fourth-highest rating with the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The highest team rating overall was an 85. That's probably helped, in part, by new quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The latter was Tampa Bay's highest-rated player with an OVR of 95. And this is the guy that spent last year out of football. To be fair- Gronkowski's last rating after the 2018 season was the coveted 99, so he did take a slight hit. Brady was one of four players rated in the 90s, receiving an even 90 grade. Wide receiver Mike Evans came in at 92 and linebacker Lavonte David rounded out the 90-club with a 90 rating himself. Finally, some sense – though the argument could be made for David's rating to be higher.
In fact, fellow linebacker Devin White said David deserved a rating in the 96 or 97 range. That's high praise coming from David's little linebacker brother. They did have a debate over who has the better speed. You can watch their full conversation, including how David feels about wide receiver Chris Godwin's OVR, below.
-It's no secret the Bucs are now slotted for the most primetime games in franchise history, with the maximum five allotted contests on the 2020 schedule. Perhaps that came into account when CBS Sports named the Bucs vs. Saints a top rivalry to watch in 2020.
"The arrival of Tom Brady in Tampa Bay is the main reason why this rivalry made the cut over the reborn Steelers-Browns rivalry," wrote Bryan DeArdo. "For at least the next two years, NFL fans will be treated to at least two games each year between Brady and Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who is just ahead of Brady as it relates to all-time career passing yards and touchdown passes. And if getting the chance to watch these two legendary quarterbacks twice a year wasn't enticing enough, the narratives surrounding Brady and Brees should also make for a captivating rivalry."
The Saints have topped the NFC South for the last three consecutive seasons. If you ask Bucs fans who public division enemy No. 1 is right now, my guess is you'd get a lot of answers that point in New Orleans' direction. Now, with two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks about to duel twice a year, it's hard to argue this matchup won't be enticing for fans across the league.
-The NFL's Top 100 special airs Sunday through Tuesday. Each season, NFL players are asked to rank their counterparts in order to compile a list of the league's 100 best players. Last season, the Bucs had just two players crack the list, Evans and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. Evans was listed at No. 53 and Pierre-Paul came in at 65. It should be noted that quarterback Tom Brady, not yet a Buccaneer, also appeared on the list at number six. It came after consecutive runs as the No. 1 player overall the previous years.
The Buccaneers finished with an improved record in 2019 in their first year under Head Coach Bruce Arians. Both Evans and Godwin made the Pro Bowl, along with newcomer Shaq Barrett, who finished with the league lead in sacks.
That alone should mean more players for the Buccaneers on the list. We'll see just how many more this weekend.