The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.

This week’s topic: Will Bucs Re-Sign All 3 Key Free Agents? (Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett)


Scott Reynolds: The Bucs Can Bring All Three Back, But I’m Not Sure It Happens

I lobbied to make this “all four key free agents” – including kicker Ryan Succop – but to no avail. I think the 34-year old Succop is an absolute must to re-sign by Tampa Bay, so I’ll just come right out and say it first. Do I can think the Bucs can re-sign all three key free agents? Yes. I have faith in director of football administration Mike Greenberg to do enough extensions (quarterback Tom Brady, left tackle Donovan Smith, center Ryan Jensen) and restructure the deals of wide receiver Mike Evans and guard Ali Marpet to create enough cap room in 2021 to make it work and bring back wide receiver Chris Godwin, inside linebacker Lavonte David and outside linebacker Shaq Barrett. The Bucs can do it, but that wasn’t the question. The question is will they do it? I have my doubts.

Bucs GM Jason Licht, director of football administration Mike Greenberg and co-chair Joel Glazer

Bucs GM Jason Licht, director of football administration Mike Greenberg and co-chair Joel Glazer – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The reason why is because Greenberg, the Bucs’ capologist, and general manager Jason Licht assign a value to each player based on their position and estimated worth. Very rarely do the Bucs cross that line once they put it in place, and there is a reason for that. Whatever happens with these big three stars impacts the team’s ability to bring back some less expensive players like defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, tight end Rob Gronkowski and my guy Succop because the salary cap will contract from $198 million to around $180-185 million due to the revenue loss in 2020 from COVID-19, which affected stadium attendance revenues around the league. Using the franchise tag on Godwin is easy. He’ll be on the books for about $16 million this year and the team can attempt to work on a long-term extension after the 2021 season.

But Barrett now has two Super Bowl rings (he won Super Bowl 50 with Denver) and David finally made it to the playoffs and won the ultimate prize – a Lombardi Trophy. The lure of an ever-elusive Super Bowl championship is now gone. With Barrett at age 28 and David at age 31, this will be the last contract for both players and they will want to cash in – even if it means going elsewhere. That’s not to say that the Bucs won’t make a competitive offer. They will. But if Tampa Bay offers Barrett $18 million per year for example and he gets $20 million per year elsewhere, that could lead to Barrett’s departure. It’s the same thing for David, although the price tag won’t be as high. I just think that either Barrett or David will ask for too much and the Bucs will have to say “no.” I hope I’m wrong, but it will be up to the players’ contract demands – not the Bucs’ – for them to ultimately return.

Mark Cook: I Have Faith In The Bucs Front Office To Bring All Three Back

Winning a Super Bowl is the pinnacle for every NFL team and it is why they line up for 16 – now maybe 17 – weeks starting every September. But with a championship, comes headaches, none more than keeping all the egos happy and making sure everyone gets paid their value. This football team is about as “ego-less” as you’ll find, but that doesn’t mean the players don’t want to get paid. Keeping the big three together and set to return for 2021 won’t be easy, but it can – and likely – will get done.

Bucs ILB Lavonte David

Bucs ILB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Lavonte David deserve all the money they can get. Really every player on the roster does, as the toil it takes to play in the NFL and the wear and tear on the body is unlike probably any other professional sport. None of these three are expendable and all were huge parts of this team that took home the Lombardi Trophy past month in Tampa. The Bucs front office must find a way to keep all three in the fold for 2021 and beyond if they have serious aspiration of repeating as champs.

With the salary cap expected to make a monumental jump in 2022 after a new television/broadcast rights deal get signed (The NFL is reportedly looking to double its current deal), there will be plenty of money moving forward – jut not this season. So it will take some create contract structuring from cap guru Mike Greenberg and general manager Jason Licht to make it happen, but they – in particular Greenberg – have shown the ability in the past to think outside the box in terms of how they sign players. Have little fear Bucs fans, the big three likely returns and the Buccaneers will be favorites to get back to the Super Bowl in 2021. No pressure on Licht and Greenberg. No pressure at all.

Jon Ledyard: Bucs Defy Free Agency Odds – Again

It’s very rare for a team to re-sign three top-tier free agents in the same offseason, but not much about the 2020-2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers is common, so I’ll bet on them to keep defying the odds. Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Lavonte David deserve to be paid this offseason, and my guess is the Bucs will feel comfortable doing just that, especially given the fact that it is unlikely to hurt them much in the long run.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

In terms of the team’s long-term prognosis with the cap, the Bucs are currently slated to be among the league leaders in cap space in 2022 and 2023, which allows them to have a ton of flexibility to push some money into those two years, especially 2022. That’s when they can plan for the biggest portions of Barrett and David’s cap hits, while saving most of their room this year to deal with Godwin’s likely franchise tag ($15.8-$16.4 million range).

The Bucs know they have a short window, probably the next year or two, in which they’ll be among the league favorites to win the Super Bowl (again). There may be some dancing in 2022 and 2023 to make the cap work, especially if the team wants to re-sign left tackle Donovan Smith and cornerback Carlton Davis next offseason, but the Bucs are far from being in an Eagles/Saints/Steelers situation. It’ll require some creativity to get everyone under the cap in 2021, but Tampa Bay can do it, and its big three free agents are players they really can’t afford to lose in a Super Bowl-contending window.

Taylor Jenkins: Bucs’ Front Office Will Have To Work Wonders To Make It Happen

Almost immediately after the Bucs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy following Super Bowl LV, head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Jason Licht made it abundantly clear that they intended to make a run in 2021 at a second consecutive championship, and that they intended to do that by keeping their core in tact. And while the Bucs were able to put together a stellar roster, they face the issue that many championship-caliber teams do, trying to keep that group together.

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

With Shaq Barrett, Chris Godwin and Lavonte David all set to get their own individual pay day, a seemingly modest cap situation will run thin extremely quick, especially when you consider that there are other major players like Ndamukong Suh and Rob Gronkowski who will require new contracts as well. David, a nine-year veteran within the Bucs’ organization, would be my most-likely candidate to return. I expect the front office to make his return an extreme priority given what he brings on the field and what he means to the organization as a whole. After that the Bucs will deal with two more expensive deals. Godwin has proven himself to be a more-than-capable receiver that would immediately step in as a team’s No. 1 pass-catcher on many rosters and he could be a prime candidate for the franchise tag in 2021, a deal that would pay him around $16 million. This leaves Barrett, arguably the largest threat to depart among the Bucs’ major free agents given his production over the past two seasons with Tampa Bay and quite plainly the going rate for edge rushers on the open market.

But as we’ve seen in the past, Licht and cap specialist Mike Greenberg are wizards when it comes to finding room and that may have to come in the form of extensions and restructures. The Bucs are already reportedly working on an extension with quarterback Tom Brady that would free up some cap space for 2021 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that with other players along the roster like Donovan Smith or Ryan Jensen. Add in players like Mike Evans and Cam Brate who have already been willing to restructure their contracts in the past to open up more space – obviously if the players are once again willing, as Evans has stated that he is – and it gives Tampa Bay even more breathing room. But at the end of the day some of the Bucs’ cards will be in the hands of the players. Getting their Big 3 back will take some sacrifice as all three may have to choose between a slightly more lucrative contract with another team or taking slightly less to return for another chance at a Super Bowl with the Bucs.

Matt Matera: It’s Too Difficult To Bring Back Everyone After Winning A Super Bowl

The problem here is that while the question asks for the “big three” players to be re-signed, you can make the case that it’s really a “big five” when you also include defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Those players are more than likely going to go year-by-year on contracts for the rest of their career, so it makes it feasible that they’ll be easier to bring back, which doesn’t leave enough money for inside linebacker Lavonte David, wide receiver Chris Godwin and outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, who will want more lucrative contracts.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht

Bucs general manager Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

You see it every year where other teams will overpay a player that just won a Super Bowl championship in the final year of their contract. While I think Godwin will get the franchise tag and eventually work something out, and David is a football lifer, I can see a team pulling out all the stops to offer Barrett much more money above his market value following a three-sack NFC Championship game and recording one sack and 11 pressures in Super Bowl LV. Barrett shouted from the stage at the Super Bowl parade that he’s coming back, but once he sees those dollar signs in free agency, things could change. At some point if you’re the Bucs and you see another team offer a ridiculous amount of money, you just have to tip your cap to them and wave goodbye.

If there’s anyone that can get back all three players, it would be Jason Licht and cap guru Mike Greenberg. What makes losing Barrett manageable is that you still have Jason Pierre-Paul rushing off the edge and you can either find his replacement through the draft, or as Scott Reynolds detailed in a recent SR’s Fab 5, there are a number of options at edge rusher in free agency. Having everyone return would be great, but it’s tough to pull that off.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Pete Wood
Pete Wood (@littlebrownjug)
8 months ago

Bucs bring back everybody they want to bring back. Count on it.
Hey, and JL signs some gems in free agency that the rest of the NFL had overlooked.
And he has a kick ass draft.
Bucs repeat at champs.

WeAretheChamps2002+2021
WeAretheChamps2002+2021 (@wearethechamps2002)
8 months ago

Mike Greenberg never made the radar until this year with all the talk about salary cap. If he truly is the brains behind the Bucs salary cap, then the Bucs better make sure they keep this guy for his career

bucballer
bucballer (@bucballer)
8 months ago

For some players they need to be be careful for what they wish for. While some may jump ship for greener pastures, as in money, this doesn’t always put them in a better situation. There r intangibles in play here. Weather, income tax, Brady, and being the reigning Champs! U can’t blame a player for chasing the money, but this doesn’t always ensure happiness or success. See Rhett, Cobb, Humphries. While some players will, indeed, leave there will be others who will jump at the opportunity to win a Ring with Brady!

drdneast
drdneast (@drdneast)
Reply to  bucballer
8 months ago

I don’t blame any of those three players for leaving, especially Humphries. That was insane money to throw at a third WR. He made more more money in two years in Tennessee than if he had stayed here or gone anywhere else in four or five years.

danielob
danielob (@danielob)
8 months ago

Mark, 85% on grammer.”But with a championship, comes headaches, none more than keeping all the egos happy…” no comma after championship. Please write 100 times on the blackboard, ” I will not use my commas incorrectly, I will not use my commas incorrectly. ( Haven’t been able to post for the last several weeks so thought I would stir the pot for all the trolls. Actually an excellent article, good work guys. Guess alll my “friends” on the board will do their usual juvenile threats, taunts, etc.

danielob
danielob (@danielob)
Reply to  danielob
8 months ago

And two grammatical errors on my part!!!! Pot and kettle cliche’s ha ha.

bucballer
bucballer (@bucballer)
Reply to  danielob
8 months ago

Texting is an informal and abbreviated type of communication so u good bruh. Ha! Ha! Ha!

drdneast
drdneast (@drdneast)
Reply to  danielob
8 months ago

danielob, please write on a chalkboard 100 times.
“Don’t annoy or bore people with my anal retentiveness.”.
Perhaps if you have a paid subscription. Do you?
If not, STFU u freeloader.

spartan
spartan (@spartan)
8 months ago

Other teams will have salary cap issues as well and will be forced to let valued players go. This will reduce the market demand initially and will make it easier to replace them if necessary. Maybe not on a direct like for like basis, but a reasonable proximity.

flaspike
flaspike (@flaspike)
Reply to  spartan
8 months ago

We’ll probably see a lot of one year deals because of this. It’ll make more sense for a player to wait until next year for the big bucks when there’ll be more cap space.

MIArmysoldier
MIArmysoldier (@miarmysoldier)
8 months ago

If I were Jason Licht, I’d be reminding these guys the “Adam Humphreys Situation.” Adam left for “more money” and technically got it in the tune of a 4 yr deal with the Titans, only to find himself two years in and cut; he did not pan into their plans like he thought he would, had two down years compared to what he had here in Tampa Bay, and now he finds himself without a job. and most likely any contract that he takes this coming here it’s going to be far less than anything he’s received in quite a… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17 (@toofamiliar17)
Reply to  MIArmysoldier
8 months ago

I actually think that this is a solid case Licht could make in negotiations. When players sign here, if they are reasonably productive and put the team first, doing things the right way, it seems to me that they have better chances of playing out their non-guaranteed contracts than players get with a lot of other teams. VJax actually had a terrible 4th season of his 5 year deal, marked by 6 missed games due to injury and a significant drop in per game production when healthy, and he was STILL brought back to finish out his high-priced $11M+ contract… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast (@drdneast)
Reply to  MIArmysoldier
8 months ago

He made more money in two years in Titanland that he would have here in four or five years. I call that a sound financial decision. Players have short careers and they need to be as good a businessman as they are as athletes.

Bradley Smith
Bradley Smith (@bradbucfan)
8 months ago

I hope the team will pay their FAs in line with how they are expected to play in the future and not past years. I believe Godwin’s numbers will stay consistent, others I can see a decline or being too inconsistent.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17 (@toofamiliar17)
Reply to  Bradley Smith
8 months ago

It seems likely to me that the most David will get from us or anyone else is 3 years, while Barrett likely maxes out at 4 years, with 3 maybe more likely. I don’t mind paying these guys as premium players at their positions on relatively short term deals like that, as I think they’re likely to be able to play at a level to justify those costs for at least a while longer. But yea, I mean, I’d be upset if we for example gave 31 year old Lavonte David Bobby Wagner money ($18M per year) or anything close… Read more »

Spitfire
Spitfire (@spitfire)
8 months ago

I’m all for bringin everyone back but only if the money is right compared to how important they are. We have tons of Cap room in 22 and 23 but only because no one is under contract, it doesn’t mean we can just push tons of potential dead money into it. I think we can find someone with Barrett’s production for less than $18mil. Godwin at Franchise tag money or a little less long term and David back at $14 mil for 3 years with 2 guaranteed, Gronk and Suh and if Barrett wants to be here for $15-$16 mil… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17 (@toofamiliar17)
Reply to  Spitfire
8 months ago

At least looking at it on paper right now, we definitely can’t find another Barrett for less money. We can’t find another Barrett for more money, either. He’s the best edge rusher on the market this offseason, bar none. He’s a pretty special player. For me to be willing to lose out on him in favor of a cheaper option, it would have to be a for a player who’s a real bargain. If the money is close, I’d much rather just stretch ourselves on his per year average and make it work with him. He’s the best we’re going… Read more »

scubog
scubog (@scubog)
8 months ago

This is an awful lot like a recent article from the Pewter Report staff. Even the part from Scott about Ryan Succop’s importance, to which I thoroughly agree. For the money, Succop is my # 1 “must sign” player. As far as the Big 3, who deserve and will expect Big $; I believe that the dilemma Mike Greenberg faces is staying true to the positional budget. True, the overall NFL mandated salary cap places the limit on most of the entire roster. But within that, each position has a self-imposed value. In our case we have a linebacker group… Read more »

Horse
Horse (@horse)
Reply to  scubog
8 months ago

Well said Scubog; I said it another way too. Greenberg is the Owners safety net to remind them not to kidnap the future for a “must now” mentality. In another year we will seriously need to sign the first wave of our core players 2nd contract and more to come. Also the need for a QB replacement because Brady isn’t immortal.

fredster
fredster (@fredster)
8 months ago

If Bucs hadn’t just won the Super Bowl in dominating fashion I’d say no they won’t bring all of them back. However with the team being so hot and such short window with Brady’s age I think decent chance all come back. I agree if one player doesn’t come back it’s probably Barrett imo. If he had 19.5 sacks again I wouldn’t say that. However with 8.5 sacks or whatever reg season was I don’t think Bucs want to pay him much over 16 million and I agree. He’s just not worth it. He’s very good pass rusher but he’s… Read more »

Horse
Horse (@horse)
Reply to  fredster
8 months ago

Fredster, go back and replay the Saints & Packer games; they were closer than we thought. To get to the Super Bowl, you have to have some luck and it sure helped in both those games. Brady and Arians can get us there even if we lose some of these top four free agents. Greenberg was the reason why we could sign all those free agents last year along with Licht.

Horse
Horse (@horse)
8 months ago

We all want to win the super bowl in 2021 season; lets think about this another way. We have plenty of WR’s; if Godwin wants more than being offered, let him go and at least we will get a supplemental draft pick. David and Barrett are the most important priority to sign, but hell no to any of the franchise tag. We have a solid young core and they will want to be paid too. Brady and Arians are the reason why we won the super bowl; they can make it happen with or without these players. Go Bucs!

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17 (@toofamiliar17)
Reply to  Horse
8 months ago

I think this is a pretty misguided statement at the end. Our offense was merely solid or worse for 2 of our 4 playoff games. Our defense absolutely carried us in 3 of the 4 games (NO, GB, and KC). Brady is still very good, but he’s not capable of carrying a team that’s short on talent to a championship at this point in his career, if he ever was. That’s pretty clear to me. That’s not even a knock on him – based on his play last season, he’s still a top 3-5ish QB in this league, depending on… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast (@drdneast)
8 months ago

It all depend how u structure a contract. You can offer a player all the money in the world, especially in the last couple years, but if none of it is guaranteed what good is it.
Look at Kwon Alexander. The 49ers guaranteed his deal for one year and in the second they couldn’t wait to get rid of him and did. In the meantime we got a much better LB at a cheaper rate. That is called excellent GMship. Geeeesh, did I just say that.

Runole
Runole (@runole)
8 months ago

Overpaying free agents comes from teams that fall into a irrational love by GM’s for a particular player. JMO but none of those Bucs mentioned fall into that type of category.

Mike Pengelly
Mike Pengelly (@ontariomike)
8 months ago

Our big D got us a Super Bowl win. Godwin may have to go elsewhere but Shaq and David are musts… and not on one yr deals !! Our receiving options with Brate, OJ Howard, Gronk, Evans, Miller and Johnson are better than Brady had many years in NE. And their D + Brady was all it took to win multiple SB’s .

erieeddy
erieeddy (@erieeddy)
8 months ago

With the NFL on the verge of nearly doubling Broadcast Revenues for the next ten years, there will be a significant increase in the Salary Cap for 2022 and beyond. With that in mind, all the Bucs Free Agents that management sees as long-term pieces can be offered 3 or 4 year contracts that include guaranteed money in the form of sizable signing bonuses with small first-year salaries to ‘fit’ everyone in this season and defer bigger cap hits into the future. For example, if Godwin’s market value is $15 million per season now, a 4-year $60 million contract could… Read more »