To Keep or Let Go? Which Bucs Big Free Agents will be Returning?

By Joshua Foster Storch 

The Buccaneers have to be, unquestionably, riding high after their second Super Bowl win in franchise history.  Unfortunately for Tampa, they might have to hold off on the party for a little bit.  They have many moving parts this offseason, and with only $24 million in cap space, they will have to make some tough choices regarding their roster going forward, and trying to retain their key players will be the first step.

Here are the five big names who will be free agents and what I think they should do with each of them

EDGE Shaquil Barrett will be… KEPT

Barrett will be the Bucs top offseason priority, and it is very well-earned.  With 27.5 sacks Tampa’s two seasons, Barrett has arguably been the best defender the Bucs have.  The issue is that he will command top dollar in free agency.  Look for him as a potential franchise tag candidate, which would cost the Bucs $15.6 million for 2021 per

*UPDATE: Barrett signed a 4-year $72 million contract with the Buccaneers

WR Chris Godwin will be… LET GO

Godwin will be the first domino to fall in the Bucs’ quest to repeat as champions. With over 3,000 receiving yards over the last three seasons in Tampa, Godwin will be 25 at the start of the 2021 season and just entering the prime of his career.  He will likely ask for a contract somewhere in the $15-18 million per year area.  And with young receivers like Tyler Johnson and Scotty in the pipeline, Godwin seems like a luxury for a team with a treasure trove of talent.

*UPDATE: Godwin has been franchise tagged by the Buccaneers

LB Lavonte David will be… KEPT

David is invaluable to the Bucs defense, and they should be doing everything in their power to keep him around.  David has made it known  he is seeking to become the highest-paid LB in the league. Bucs will want to keep the 3-time All-Pro for the foreseeable future with his value as a leader and playmaker in the squad.

*UPDATE: David has signed a 2-year $25 million contract to remain in Tampa

WR Antonio Brown will be… KEPT?

While it may seem odd to many outside of the organization why they would keep AB around, but the 33-year-old receiver actually will be a valuable player for Brady throughout his time in Tampa.  And luckily for Tampa, he will be willing to take a hometown discount to play with Brady, so not only will he be a viable second option behind Mike Evans, but also he will be cheap, and the Bucs could use some of that financial leeway.

RB Leonard Fournette will be… LET GO

Playoff Lenny’s time and Tampa may be coming to an end after just one season for a couple of reasons:

  1. RB Depth.  23-year-old RB Ronald Jones was primarily the starter for the majority of the season for Tampa, and with second-year veteran Ke’shawn Vaughn potentially bursting on the scene as a sleeper this season, it just would not be sensible to re-sign the soon-to-be 27-year-old Fournette well into his late 20’s to early 30’s.
  2. Financially. With over 15 free agents headed to free agency this offseason, signing a running back for potentially starter money with limited cap space and you already have a starting back would not be the right move.

For these reasons, Founette is gone.

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