Tom Brady really is inevitable.
A year before Tampa Bay became Tompa Bay, the Buccaneers already sported a stout defense and a qualified coaching staff. They had a few weapons on the perimeter and a quality pieces along the offensive line. But it was the arrival of Brady that sparked a few more crucial additions to an already talented team and led to the creation of the most balanced roster in the NFL.
Brady and the Bucs will now look to repeat as Super Bowl champions next season, but the roster will not be the same. Over 30 players are scheduled to be free agents this upcoming March, and many of them will not return to Tampa.
Would any of them want to go from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in the Sunshine State to the banks of the Ohio River? If the money’s right, anything’s possible.
Here are some notable Buccaneers that should intrigue the Bengals this offseason.
Chris Godwin, wide receiver
Say the Bengals miss out on all the top-tier offensive lineman next month; where would that money end up? When they missed out on free agent linebacker Joe Schobert, they turned their attention to D.J. Reader to go with Trae Waynes. So while this would be a great opportunity to make the Bengals are cheap joke, it doesn’t really apply. They’re going to spend a good chunk of money, and if they can’t spend it on the offensive line, a wide receiver would make for a great alternative.
Godwin is one of the best receivers to hit the market this year, and considering he’s almost three years younger than both Allen Robinson and Kenny Golladay, he’ll probably get the biggest contract. The Bengals need a high-impact replacement for A.J. Green, and Godwin definitely fits the bill...if the Bucs even let him hit the open market, that is.
Joe Haeg, offensive lineman
Tampa Bay’s offensive line was a vital component to Brady’s revival. Haeg wasn’t a season-long starter at any position, but he does have starting experience at multiple o-line positions and was one of the first players off the bench this year. Haeg will turn just 28 this year and shouldn’t command anything more than a minimal salary.
Going back to the Godwin scenario, the Bengals will need to keep tabs on the second and third-tier market for offensive linemen. Haeg is young and versatile enough to help out a team who needs it.
Lavonte David, linebacker
It would be unlikely for David, a Buccaneer of nine seasons, to literally jump ship just after winning a ‘ship with the team that drafted him, but you never know with players in the back-half of their careers. David certainly didn’t look like a 31-year old linebacker in the Super Bowl, as his pristine open-field athleticism was on full display against the Chiefs’ offense.
The Bengals’ 2020 NFL draft class was nearly 50% linebackers and Josh Bynes is expected to be retained, so don’t expect any free agent splashes at the position. With that said, David would help nearly every team in the league, and it’s not like he wouldn’t be Cincinnati’s best linebacker.
Shaq Barrett, edge defender
Really, it’s just Haeg and a couple of pipe dreams. But fresh Super Bowl experience should always be considered!