In a conference call with his Monday Night Football co-hosts this past week, ESPN’s Louis Riddick had high praise for the Bucs offseason moves. A former front office member himself, Riddick is a huge advocate of the way the Bucs have built a Super Bowl team.
“They understand the whole balance of trying to win now and prepare for the future, taking the short- and long-term as well as anyone,” Riddick said. “They’re trying to balance that out as well as they possibly can right now. Take advantage of this unique opportunity of being able to have 22 starters back off of a Super Bowl-winning team and having a quarterback now that is embarking on uncharted territory.”
Bucs Building To Win Now
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Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Given Tom Brady’s recent remarks on wanting to play in Tampa Bay “for a long time”, it’s worth wondering how the Bucs can keep the window open. Big decisions are looming this offseason with Chris Godwin, Carlton Davis, Alex Cappa, Ryan Jensen, Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Whitehead and others.
“It’s challenging for them,” Riddick said. “There’s no question that there’s going to come a time where the salary cap growth is not going to outpace the kind of money that all these good players that they have that are coming up for second contracts, for big money contracts. It’s not going to outpace what they want and what they’re going to be able to command on the open market, and they’re going to have to make some tough decisions.”
The Potential Steal Of The Draft
That’s where the draft will remain key for Tampa Bay. GM Jason Licht has done an outstanding job of adding to an already loaded roster over the past two drafts. One of his latest selections may be his best, as first round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka looked outstanding in preseason action.
“That’s what GMs are paid to do,” Riddick said. “Quite honestly, they’re paid to make those tough decisions. That’s why they need to continue to hit on their draft picks, they need to continue to find guys like Tristan Wirfs. What they have uncovered this year in a guy like Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, who could potentially be a top-10 value for them. Although they got him with the last pick in the first round, which is just…amazing.
“I think quite honestly he may be — there have been a lot of names thrown out there for the steal of the draft. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka may be the steal of the draft based upon what Todd Bowles has told me that he has looked like down there as a pass rusher.”
He’s not the only one who thinks Tryon-Shoyinka could be a steal. Jason Pierre-Paul recently said he thinks Tryon-Shoyinka is, “going to be one of the key guys that helps us get back to the Super Bowl”.
The Present And The Future
Prioritizing who they need to re-sign and who they might be able to live without is going to be part of the tough decisions the Bucs will need to make.
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I think they are in a nice spot right now,” Riddick explained. “They’re going to ride out this Tom Brady wave as long as they possibly can with one eye on the future. They will make the tough decisions when the time comes about what positions are there that they need to prioritize. Meaning, they have to make sure they are very creative with how they structure their contracts to keep these people.
“Then some of the other guys, they’re going to have to say, ‘hey, look, we love the heck out of you, but we just don’t have the money to pay all of you. Go get what you can get on the open market.’ If it doesn’t work out for them, of course they would welcome them back into the fold, if they fit into the long-term plans.”
The job Licht and Co. have done isn’t going unnoticed. It will be crucial to continue to weigh how to compete for championships while also preparing for life without Tom Brady.
“That is just the salary cap era,” Riddick said. “That’s what everybody is trying to deal with. That’s what Jason is dealing with. So far so good, man. Really, they are doing a heck of a job and probably from a front office perspective don’t get enough credit.”
J.C. Allen is one of PewterReport.com’s newest beat writers. As a New England transplant, he has closely followed Tom Brady’s entire career and first fell in love with the game during the Patriots 1996 Super Bowl run. J.C. is in his second year covering the team after spending a year with Bucs Report as a writer, producer and show host. Some of his other interests include barbecuing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. His favorite Buccaneer of all time is Simeon Rice and believes he deserves a spot in Canton. Follow J.C. Allen on Twitter @JCAllenNFL.
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