A lot can happen between now and then but when the confetti settles next February 13 in the new SoFi Stadium after Super Bowl LVI I’d be shocked if the Tampa Bay Bucs aren’t the last team standing.

That’s right.

Crown them.

Okay, so I’m not selling off everything I own, emptying my bank accounts and selling a kidney on the black market to run to Vegas and put it all on the Buccaneers. But I am tempted.

This Bucs football team, that was already great following their second franchise Super Bowl championship, is even better two months later.

Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

And Tampa Bay hasn’t even drafted a single player yet.

The Bucs entered this offseason with a daunting list of 25 unrestricted free agents and a lower than normal say cap. The team was possibly going to lose a high-profile starter or two, and key contributors to its Super Bowl winning roster. One byproduct of winning a championship is other teams are looking to add some of those players, and hoping some of that magic postseason dust rubs off.

Tampa Bay has lost a few players.

Joe Haeg, Andrew Adams, Ryan Smith and Antony Auclair. I think they can survive the losses.

But major contributors? Nope.

Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Ryan Succop, Kevin Minter, Steve McLendon, Aaron Stinnie and a few are all back for at least one more season. And there will likely still be others. Blaine Gabbert probably returns. Antonio Brown may yet still be in pewter and red for another year.

Are you kidding me? In the modern salary cap era of the NFL this is unheard of.

Oh, and they added a year to Tom Brady’s deal and re-signed Donovan Smith to a multi-year contract extension.

Crown them. 

The Bucs finally signed a free agent from another team when they added Giovani Bernard, a former No. 2 draft pick of the Bengals.

Bucs RB Giovani Bernard

Bucs RB Giovani Bernard – Photo by: USA Today

You thought the one glaring weakness on the football team was a pass-catching running back who could come in be a change-of-pace back and be Brady’s best friend on third down? No worries, they just found that player.

Besides the talent re-signed – and added – for many of these players it will be just their second or third year in a complex offensive and defensive scheme. Don’t underestimate the  impressiveness of the Bucs winning a Super Bowl in a COVID year with many not having any experience in Bruce Arians’ offense and being at a distinct disadvantage of not having an offseason at all to get in the reps. Arians estimated players missed over 400 reps by not having on-the-field OTAs and mini-camps in 2020.

Unbelievable when you think about it.

And even for the players that were here in 2019 during Arians’ first season, this will be just their their third year under offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Imagine how much better the defense, in particular, can be with another year under its belt? When players stop thinking on the field and just play football instinctively, it’s a huge advantage. Bucs Hall of Famer Warren Sapp didn’t have to worry what Simeon Rice was going to do. Derrick Brooks wasn’t worrying if Shelton Quarles was going to get his assignment right. Ronde Barber trusted John Lynch and didn’t give it a second thought.

Tampa Bay’s defense achieved a legendary status from 1999 – 2002.

In 2021 Barrett knows Vita Vea will be where he is supposed to be. David and Devin White can just look over at each other prior to the snap and not even need to say a word. Carlton Davis knows if he gambles, safety Antoine Winfield Jr. has his back.

A defense that held the high-powered reigning Super Bowl champs led by an MVP in Patrick Mahomes to just nine points will be better in 2021.

That’s a scary proposition for the other 31 NFL teams.

Crown them.

Scott Reynolds recently wrote about the 2003 Buccaneers team that after winning the Super Bowl, followed it up with a flop of a 7-9 season. Sapp talked about the difficulty of repeating.

“You don’t know what it’s like to be hunted until you are hunted,” Sapp told Reynolds. “Trust me, the worst team in the league gives you their best. It was something we weren’t ready for in 2003. We were not ready for it in any way shape or form.”

But the difference in that 2003 team and the one that will line up in 2021 is one person.

QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.

Winning six Super Bowls prior to coming to the Buccaneers and winning his seventh last season, Brady knows a thing or two about being the hunted.

There will be no complacency on this football team. Not with Brady in charge.

While it is not an absolute guarantee that the Bucs win back-to-back Super Bowls – injuries have a way of derailing a sports team’s best laid plans – the 2021 Buccaneers will be better than the 2020 team that won it all.

The talent is back. The coaching staff returns intact. And here’s is a scary thought – the Buccaneers have yet to even draft a single player to make them that much better.

Get your airfare and hotel for February Los Angeles ready, Bucs fans.

Crown them.

Cannon Blast

Table of Contents

• While he never caught a touchdown in Tampa Bay and posted mediocre stats, one of the nicest guys on the Bucs roster over the last few years has found a new home in Houston. Fourth-string tight end Antony Auclair signed a deal with the Houston Texans and is headed west. Auclair was caught up in a numbers game, a by-product of having a roster as talented as the Buccaneers. Auclair, a native Canadian with a smooth French accent always jumped at any chance to help out Pewter Report with our charity events or public appearances.

My favorite Auclair story goes back to his rookie season when we were out at an event and and were were takling, a then-single Auclair noticed a young lady, quite attractive I might add, and whispered to me, “Could you go talk to her for me?” I literally laughed out loud thinking he was joking, but he wasn’t kidding. Here was a handsome, professional athlete with an accent that some women would fawn over, asking me to introduce him to someone.

Good luck in Houston Antony. You’ll be missed here in Tampa Bay, especially during our fall bowling league at Pin Chasers. Hopefully you’ve overcome your shyness.

• Just stop it Antonio Brown. Just stop. If there is an offer on the table from the Buccaneers sign the damn deal.

Do you really think you deserve a long-term deal worth several millions per season? Have you not Googled your name? Do you not remember where you were a year ago? Do you not remember you are still possibly facing discipline from the NFL over sexual assault allegations?

Bucs WR Antonio Brown

Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Buccaneers took a huge gamble on you last season when few – if any – other teams wanted anything to do with you at all. Yes, you did your part and stayed out of trouble. But when does acting like a decent human deserve a pat on the back?

Whatever the Bucs are offering, take it. Clearly teams aren’t lining up for your services. You want to repair your stained reputation? Sign another deal with the Bucs, make a couple millions dollars, stay out of the headlines and win another Super Bowl.

Last Laugh

All I am saying is, don’t rule it out.

Share On Socials

About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
Subscribe
Notify of
43 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
tiapanda
tiapanda
1 year ago

What could derail this season is losing Shaq or JPP. Pick # 32 or earlier needs to be an edge rusher. Licht’s so hot I have a feeling he’ll find a good one.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  tiapanda
1 year ago

You beat me to it – one of the big things that went right for us last season was that we didn’t sustain injuries to any of our positions with the least depth. Had any of Shaq, JPP, Donovan, or Wirfs went down last season, we may have seen a different result. And that exposure due to lack of depth at those obviously crucial positions is the greatest threat to our team in 2021 right now. On paper, Mark’s right – we’re currently the clear favorite this year. No question in my mind about that. But we were unusually lucky… Read more »

Jay
Jay
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

Well said, he doesn’t have to be a full time player just come in to our guys a break. I believe that lots of guys would jump at the chance to finally get a ring. I also believe that the bucs have a great GM and believe he’s got this under control.

bucballer
bucballer
1 year ago

I’m not trying to be a Debbie downer but just because u were great last year and won the SuperBowl doesn’t mean the same team and players will be great this year. I hope they will! But, we r an aging squad with a 44 year old QB. An injury to anyone of our core players might alter the entire season, especially if it’s at QB. Having said that, if we draft as well as last season, stay away from major injuries, then this team could be even better than last years. That’s a scary proposition for the other teams.… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  bucballer
1 year ago

I get the cautious mindset, and I hope it’s on the players are embracing. Don’t want anyone coming in feeling accomplished, entitled, etc. But we do have strong depth in a few different places on this roster that makes me think we could sustain 1-2 injuries at those position groups and still play at a high level. Every team will go through injuries. The hope is to avoid a rash of them in one position group. But for a couple of those groups, namely WR and TE, I think we could keep on chugging even with multiple injuries. And at… Read more »

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

Agreetoofamiliar17. Specifically, I worry about an injury to Brady. It would change the dynamics of our offense immensely. We were lucky last year that Brady didn’t suffer any severe injuries. Can luck strike twice… gosh, I sure hope so!

Dave
Dave
Reply to  bucballer
1 year ago

He’s as durable and reliable as any player in NFL history. Luck has nothing to do with it. Outside of a fluke injury in 08, he hasn’t missed a game due to injury in his entire 20 year career. Granted he’s 44 and it can happen at any time, at this stage of his career. But he takes excellent care of his body, and always avoid big hits by getting rid of the ball. Even if it’s on a 3rd and 1. He knows it’s more important to live to see another down

aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Agreed, one of Brady’s most underrated characteristics is his toughness. He never talks about his injuries but some of them have leaked out over the years. He’s played through a first degree right and left shoulder separations. He had surgery on his throwing hand 4 days before the 2018 AFC championship game. He played through a first degree high ankle sprain and a right elbow sprain. Even last year he had a significant left knee injury that required surgery. Not sure if its the voo doo he does with Guerrero but he seems like he can play through anything. I… Read more »

Jay
Jay
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

He also knows when to get down before the big hit and he is a MASTER at working the refs.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

He definitely does the best he can to set himself up for success from a preparation standpoint. He also does everything he can to avoid taking major hits from opponents. I don’t have anything to back this up, but it seems to me like he’s quicker to throw a ball away when he sees a free rusher than any other QB in the league. Which is a credit to him – he knows who he is and what matters. Some random 2nd down in November is meaningless, and I think TB recognizes that. So if he sees risk coming, he’s… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

Sorry, 24 out of 26, not 26 out of 28*

Jay
Jay
Reply to  bucballer
1 year ago

Lucky with brady no. He knows how to protect his body. You don’t play 20 plus years without taking care of yourself. Bradys got that under control.

Jay
Jay
Reply to  bucballer
1 year ago

Injuries are part of the game. But I think that most if not all teams will fail if their starting QB goes down. Brady has the experience to keep from getting hurt. This team played better at the end because it takes a long time to really get to know each other and to trust each other in the heat of battle and make no mistake they are in a battle. They may not have guns but it’s a war. Next year they will be brothers in arms having full trust in the man next to them. It’s going to… Read more »

TCB2W!
TCB2W!
1 year ago

Do they research these articles before they post them? Tyler Eifert was their first round pick. Giovani WITH ONE N was their second round pick from Oakland.

gcolerick
gcolerick
Reply to  TCB2W!
1 year ago

TCB2W?….as the late great Mark Twain once said. “I have no respect for a man that can only spell a word one way.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Mark Cook
1 year ago

This cracked me up in a big way. Excellent.

To be fair, as a semi-frequent commenter here – it genuinely wouldn’t even occur to me to email you guys. I don’t know any of your all’s email addresses or even where to find them on the site, although I’m sure they’re here and it wouldn’t be difficult. But it’s never even crossed my mind that I could email you, SR, or any other PR writers or staff.

That said, there was no reason to point out the honest mistake in such a…hmmm….”eggplant emoji”-ish way. I love your clapback.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  TCB2W!
1 year ago

Good call there, I had forgotten what round he was taken in, but as soon as you said that, I remember that too.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
1 year ago

All teams have injuries to key players during the season. What matters is not just having depth, but also the ability to sign key players to fill an immediate hole. Jason Licht was able to do that last season, for instance, after Vita Vea went down and he signed McClendon .. and then the depth guys also stepped up. We barely missed a beat, yet when Vea did miraculously make it back onto the active roster in time for the playoffs, he helped the Bucs get even better when it mattered most. Ditto with other key contributors, like Playoff Lenny.… Read more »

gcolerick
gcolerick
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Yea…not a whole lot made of the fact that the Bucs were down a starting offensive lineman for the SuperBowl. Difference is our next man up did his job. The great thing about this year is all of our picks will be to add more depth to an already very talented and deep roster.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  gcolerick
1 year ago

Definitely a fair point. But then, Stinnie proved himself to be excellent depth. There were definitely positions on that 2020 team that, had we had a serious injury occur, we would not have been able to have rolled with it like that. I think we beat them either way, but I do feel bad for the Chiefs that they lost both starting OTs, who made up one of the best bookend combos in the league last year, one of them late in their AFC Championship winning game RIGHT before the big game. That was brutally bad luck.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

I’m with you on most of this, well said. But just to be clear – Patrick Mahomes IS the best QB in the league. Please don’t tell me with a straight face that you don’t know that.

Jay
Jay
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

Until Mahones dose it with less talent around him like brady has for years Brady is still the best. I believe that if kelce and hill go down KC is done. I just don’t think he can make the other players better than they are. Brady always made guys that nobody knew into guys everybody knew. Time will tell but I understand why the league pushes Mahomes name he is the future and no one man or team is bigger than the league. They have said that statement more then once.

Buc76
Buc76
1 year ago

Let’s win the division. #1 seed, Home field throughout, win the NFC Championship at home (never been done) then go to LA for the crowning moment. Go down as one of the great all time teams having repeated and then…..3peat has to be the goal. Brady wants to do it, everyone will be back again.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Buc76
1 year ago

No team has ever won the NFC Championship at home? Is that what you’re saying? If so, that is incorrect. I’ve said this a few times, but in my mind, the ONE thing left for Brady to accomplish is an undefeated championship season. I’m not saying that’s going to happen, at all. I don’t think he would tell anyone this out loud. But my guess is that the 2007 season haunts him. The ONE thing he’s never been able to do, despite finishing his career as the all-time leader in every major statistical category for his position, despite winning more… Read more »

Jay
Jay
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

The feat that you are talking about is all wrong totally wrong. The Dolphin won that playing 17 games next year teams have to play 17 games just to get through the regular season. Then win 3 more.
At some point in time the record books are going to have to start over.

Jay
Jay
Reply to  Buc76
1 year ago

I believe that you are right when they win it again they will all want to come back plus so will a lot of other players that really want that ring. Because after you made your millions the ring is the most important thing.

ScottC543
ScottC543
1 year ago

We WILL kick major ass this season, barring serious injury to a few of our most key players. This year many games will be like they were back in the seasons just before we won our first SB, where we knew going in that the team we’re playing has zero chance to win.

I loved those days, and they’re back again.

LFG!

Last edited 1 year ago by ScottC543
buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
1 year ago

These declarations are nonsense. We’re one injury away from struggling heavily. Now, if we had a quality backup QB, I’d say maybe they could survive an injury to #12, but we don’t.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  buccaneerNW
1 year ago

You’re right – if Brady goes down, we’re done. But that’s not truly a correctable situation. There’s no backup in the league that would project to be able to lead a team to a championship if the starter went down. It happens roughly once every 25 years, but even those prove to be flukes – for example, we’ve fully confirmed since his SB MVP performance that Nick Foles is trash. If you have an elite QB, that’s the one position at which the best you can do is just hold your breath and hope the worst doesn’t happen. Because if… Read more »

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

And this supports my point about predictions (in general)… especially SB predictions.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  buccaneerNW
1 year ago

Major QB injuries are extremely rare. They do happen, but it’s typically one or two per season. Cliffnotes paraphrasing a post of mine above – last season, 93% of full time starting QB’s last season started at least 75% of their team’s games. 77% missed either one or no games. And 62% missed no games at all. Only 2 QBs in the whole league (Dak and Burrow) sustained major, season-ending injuries. Significant QB injuries are very rare. And I’d argue that they’re even more unlikely for a QB like Brady than they are for most, specifically because Brady doesn’t run… Read more »

Jay
Jay
Reply to  buccaneerNW
1 year ago

Just like every other team. Name me a team in this league that will make the playoffs with a backup QB.

Lawdy
Lawdy
1 year ago

LFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Horse
Horse
1 year ago

It looks good for us; all we need to is to remember every team in the NFL wants to beat us because we had what they couldn’t have. Go Bucs! keep the dream alive!

Runole
Runole
1 year ago

Barring catastrophic injuries the Bucs indeed have the where with all to return to the SB.

ScottC543
ScottC543
Reply to  Runole
1 year ago

It’s all one word. Not calling you out of anything, but I love words like “wherewithal”.
Sobeit is another one.

Last edited 1 year ago by ScottC543
drdneast
drdneast
1 year ago

Well lets not go out and buy another can of polish for the Lombardi Trophy just yet. There are just to many variables that go into a season including the fact we have 5 out of 7 players on the defensive front who are already receiving solicitations from the AARP. Father time is waiting for them. I always thought Auclair had more talent than he was allowed to show here because of the depth in the TE room but I have to admit I never saw any film on his blocking abilities, Hope he does well but the Texans and… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

I count 4 out of 7. Are you saying Barrett is old? I think that’s pushing it. He’s not a YOUNG player anymore, but I’m not worried about him aging out of playing at a high level this year or next. The dude is 28. Chill, lol. With JPP, it’s tough to say, but he has never been hugely reliant on raw athleticism. So his game could age well. It wouldn’t shock me if he’s still capable of playing at a high level next season. If he shows out this year, stays healthy on the field, and doesn’t experience any… Read more »

Jay
Jay
1 year ago

I love everything that you said. It was right on point. Brady will keep them honest and not let the team get a big head about themselves. They can’t EVER under estimate any team. Its pedal to the metal take no prisoners give no quarter to any team. Leading by 20 in the 4th not enough when you got them down finish them off. NEVER GIVE ANOTHER TEAM HOPE. BRADY and GRUNK will make sure of that. Looking forward to next season.

aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1
1 year ago

I wish I had the same confidence. I will remain cautiously optimistic and I do believe we will be better in the regular season this year, ideally good enough to get the one bye. But when the playoffs roll around you just never know what’s going to happen. There are always some lucky breaks along the way to winning a championship. Hopefully the ball bounces the right way again next year.

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

Only way I’d want Edelman, is if AB doesn’t resign, and Edelman is allowed to take the first half of the season off to try and get healthy. In that case, he can slowly be worked in for the final month of the regular season, to try and get him up to speed, and healthy in time for the playoffs. But if we were ever able to get Edelman, and then get him healthy in time for the playoffs, I can’t possibly see who would beat this team. Adding, arguably the best playoff WR(not named Jerry Rice) in the history… Read more »

scubog
scubog
1 year ago

Sometimes I’m convinced that Debbie Downer is the Mayor of Bucville and Chicken Little is City Manager. In spite of blowing out the defending Super Bowl champions, some want to put an asterisk sticker on the Lombardi Trophy and give the Chiefs an excuse for going down in lopsided defeat. Then on top of that, not only do our champions remain intact, they add what could be a major contributor. But even with that, fans want to lift the lid off of the cesspool just to put some stench in the air while seeking out any reason to “curb the… Read more »