Jason Licht and Bruce Arians held court with the media on Wednesday and talked about all things Buccaneers, from free agency to a possible contract extension for Tom Brady.
If Bruce Arians has anything to do with it, there will not be a Super Bowl hangover. Arians said that when the team reconvenes for training camp, they are starting fresh. It will be a brand new team.
“When I said goodbye, we said goodbye to this season, this team. Next year’s a different team. When we come back, we’re not Super Bowl champs. We’re just the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s for everybody to find their role, whatever that might be, then embrace it. We had a long talk about that: Congratulations, but this team’s history. Next year’s a whole new ballclub. We ain’t done shit.”
Arians also talked about the many free agents the Bucs have and the challenge of keeping the team together. Arians said the number one priority is to keep the defense together.
“For me, it’s still keeping the defense together. And then whatever’s left, we’ll score enough points. It’s a matter for me keeping the defense as solid as we can.”
That includes both free-agent linebackers, Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett. General manager Jason Licht said that they want Barrett back after putting the team’s franchise tag on him last year.
Arians said that they are not sure if they will pursue any outside, free agents. The goal is to sign their free agents and bring the team back to go for a second Super Bowl win.
Both Arians and Licht talked about an extension for quarterback Tom Brady who has one year left on his two-year 50 million dollar deal.
“We would love to have Tom play here,” Licht said. “I speak for Bruce, I think as long as he continues to want to play. If that comes to fruition at some point, then we’d be elated, but I’d like to keep those conversations private that we have right.
Brady and defensive linemen Jason Pierre-Paul both had some minor knee procedures done. According to Arians, they are looking at a target date of June to return to team activities.
As the Bucs try to create some more wiggle room under the salary cap, there has been some talk that the Bucs could part ways with two members of the offensive line, center Ryan Jensen and tackle Donavan Smith.
Licht said he wants both of those players back and expects them both to be back in 2021. “We love Ryan and Donovan. They played a pivotal role in our offense, in the protection, in the run game. We envision Ryan and Donovan both being on this team. We expect them, not just envision them.”
It will be a different off-season as the Bucs prepare for free agency and the draft. Should the Bucs re-sign all their free agents, there would be no glaring needs. Jason Licht talked about that unique position.
“We haven’t been in that position for a long time, since I’ve been here, where if we are able to keep our core together, there is no immediate need that we’re going to need. The picks that Bruce and I and our staff will make could either affect the future needs or be luxury picks that could help us. It leaves us in a position to take really good football players and not just direct our attention to one or two particular positions.”
The window for franchising a player begins runs through March 9th. Free agency begins March 17th, and the NFL draft will be held April 29th-May 1st in Cleveland.