During the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl parade, coach Bruce Arians empathically told every major free agent that his “(expletive) ain’t going nowhere.” At the time, it sounded like a coach having fun with players.
Surely, Tampa couldn’t retain most of its major pieces to make another Lombardi run, right?
It turns out Arians wasn’t joking.
The Bucs continue their offseason of retaining their big-name free agents.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Bucs agreed to terms with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on a one-year contract worth a max of $10 million, per sources informed of the deal. The deal includes $9 million fully guaranteed plus incentives that would get Suh to the max, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero added.
While he might not be the first-team All-Pro player he was early in his career, Suh remains a solid interior defender who can win one-on-ones. He’s a stout run defender and key to the Bucs’ top-ranked run D in 2021. Ranked No. 64 in Gregg Rosenthal’s Top 101 NFL free agents of 2021, the 34-year-old also still possesses the ability to get upfield and push the pocket.
Suh compiled six sacks — his most since 2015 — to go along with 19 QB hits and 44 tackles, including nine for loss while starting 16 games in 2020.
The Bucs fit Suh under the salary cap by inking left tackle Donovan Smith to an extension that lowered his cap figure by more than $10 million.
Tampa GM Jason Licht has done a masterful job keeping the Bucs’ core together. Extensions like Tom Brady’s and Smith’s have given the Bucs wiggle room to keep the majority of their free agents.
Tampa franchise-tagged Chris Godwin and re-signed pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett, linebacker Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski, kicker Ryan Succop, Suh, and several other depth players.
The Bucs have borrowed from the future to keep their band together. With the Super Bowl window wide open as long as Brady continues to play in Tampa, the club can worry about paying that tab later. Chasing rings is the name of the game right now, and keeping together a core that jelled down the stretch of the season, winning eight straight, was the right move for the Bucs.
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