Feb 10, 2021; Tampa Bay, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during a boat parade to celebrate victory in Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady, Buccaneers GM to talk contract extension

Tom Brady committed to the 2021 season in the afterglow of his seventh Super Bowl victory this month, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht envisions talking about another contract with his 43-year-old quarterback.

Brady signed a two-year deal in free agency in March 2020, exiting New England for $25 million in 2020 and the same amount in 2021.

The Buccaneers are strapped for cash entering the new league year, and turning Brady’s $25 million salary into a bonus, or splitting his contract between base salary and bonus, would bring significant cap relief. The accounting maneuver was commonly utilized by the Patriots.

“We’d like to keep this going,” Licht said on The Rich Eisen Show.

The NFL league year, which is the official start of free agency, begins March 17.

A move on Brady’s contract likely would come before March 9, the deadline for the Buccaneers to employ the franchise tag. Likely candidates for the one-year tag include wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Head coach Bruce Arians said Brady is showing no signs of wear and the uninformed observer would never guess his age. Brady repeated this month that he’d like to play multiple more seasons, and in the past pointed to 45 as a benchmark he was striving to hit. He will turn 44 in August.

“It appears he had a really good time this year winning the Super Bowl and likes our organization,” Licht told the Rich Eisen Show. “Likes our coaches, likes our head coach and ownership and we certainly love him. Usually when you have those two things going for you, it’s a match made in heaven. So we’d like to keep this going.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2020; Tampa, Florida, United States;Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (28) talks with general manager Jason Licht, owner Joel Glazer and owner Bryan Glazer at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs GM Jason Licht basks in afterglow of turnaround

Long before Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians shared morsels of Tampa Bay’s 2020 vision last February, the end game for the franchise was crystal clear.

Optimistic or outlandish depending on your vantage point, the Buccaneers planned to play for the Super Bowl in their home stadium in February 2021.

And here they stand, NFC Champions prepping to host the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 7.

“I look back at this time last year compared to where we’re at right now — and we still have unfinished business,” Licht said Wednesday. “Everybody is very focused on this game — I can assure you of that. But, just how far we came in a short amount of time in terms of our record and where we’re at. It’s just a feeling of being grateful for our ownership for giving us the resources that they have to keep this team together, to go out and get Tom [Brady], to trade for Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] and make some other moves during the season when it would have been very easy for owners to pull the reins back a little bit for reasons that go along with being in a pandemic. But, [they] still wanted us to push forward because they desperately want this.”

Last February, Arians opened a choose-your-adventure offseason by revealing he wasn’t committed to quarterback Jameis Winston at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Jump ahead to pandemic times. As the sports world and world in general was slamming the brakes, high fives, hugs and handshakes were impossible to resist at One Buc Place.

The Buccaneers were celebrating in private when Brady penned a public farewell to the Patriots, leaving New England in free agency for a two-year deal in Tampa. About six weeks later, they had Gronkowski under contract and landed a dominant right tackle in Tristan Wirfs plus a starting safety, Antoine Winfield Jr., in the NFL draft.

The slow turn from challenging for the NFC South cellar to playoff — dare they say, Super Bowl — contention was rapidly looking like reality through Licht’s lens.

“You want to make some moves that hopefully get your team into the Super Bowl. I think when you sign a guy like Tom, it makes it a little more realistic,” Licht said. “Just talking to him the days after we signed him, you could just hear and feel the confidence that he had. It made it a little bit more real. Now, you never take anything for granted. We had some highs and lows in the season where things at times looked a little grim. We needed to pull together, but we never lost our confidence. Looking back on some of the things we talked about, you do kind of want to pinch yourselves a little bit saying, ‘Wow, this really did happen.’”

The Buccaneers couldn’t overtake the Saints in the South, but as a wild card won three playoff road games — one in New Orleans — to claim the NFC title. Brady, a 43-year-old quarterback, got them there along with a strong defense and young, talented wide receiver group.

Licht isn’t willing to take much of the credit, deflecting to Arians and the team’s scouting staff. Arians, the team’s call-em-like-you-see-em leader, won over Brady with a combination of tough love and autonomy that only makes sense when viewed in action.

For example, Arians said last week the difference between Brady’s 20 years in New England and this season in Tampa is the Buccaneers got out of his way.

“I allow him to be himself. Like, New England didn’t allow him to coach. I allow him to coach,” Arians said.

Offensive guard Ali Marpet said Wednesday the chemistry with a younger team is a credit to Arians.

“B.A. has done such a great job for us,” Marpet said, “kind of letting players play their own game and giving guys the opportunity to do what they do that makes them successful.”

–Field Level Media