When the Buccaneers and Tom Brady decided they were the perfect match for each other in 2020 NFL free agency, it made sense for team and quarterback to also lock into staying paired for 2021.
For Tampa Bay, when it was evident that Jameis Winston wasn’t worthy of being re-signed for inflated value in relation to the market, ended up with a strong initial return on investment from Brady. As for Brady, the money wasn’t as important as landing in a spot that would give him the best chance to win another championship — because the Patriots were no longer that team.
To that end, the Buccaneers and Brady could have just made it a one-year deal, which is what the Colts did with Philip Rivers and were rewarded with a return to the playoffs. Making it two, however, was critical in terms of commitment, on both sides.
The Bucs were committed to giving Brady the pieces he needs offensively and defensively, in the offseason and the midseason. They also made those moves knowing they had an extended Super Bowl window and didn’t need to go completely “all in” with Brady for 2020.
By Brady agreeing to two years, it proved he was committed to playing through 2021, when he turns 44, without giving consideration to retirement and forcing the Buccaneers to scramble again for a sound starting QB solution.
It was no surprise that the Buccaneers gave Brady an even $25 million per season, with the total of $50 million over two years being guaranteed at signing. The structure of the contract also is symmetrical. Brady’s base salary ($15 million), roster bonus ($10 million), incentive bonus ($1.625 million) and cap hit ($26.625 million) are the exact same in 2021 as they were in 2020.
With that deal, the Buccaneers also put themselves in good salary-cap shape for 2021. They are around $31 million under the cap for now.
The Buccaneers’ priority for Brady will be re-signing wide receiver Chris Godwin. Linebackers Shaquill Barrett and Lavonte David would be the next in-house free agent priorities. With some salary-cap cuts at other positions and having the franchise tag available, there’s possibility all three can be back, with the added appeal of getting another shot at a Super Bowl with Brady.
Brady will be back and the Bucs don’t suddenly to need to deplete needed resources around him for Year 2. They don’t need to be active in free agency beyond their own players. With more good drafting, they can add a couple more immediate-impact rookies, such as right tackle Tristan Wirfs and strong safety Antoine Winfield Jr. were this season.
If Brady had a shaky first season with the Bucs or the Bucs had let down Brady with their other moves, getting stuck for another year might have come with a different tune. With Brady and the Buccaneers being happy together through a full season, 2021 will have a greater promising feel than 2020.