NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Versus Time in Tampa Bay

Written by Brad Shepard

There has never been a bigger free agent in NFL history than Tom Brady. As a lifelong Patriots fan, I began getting nervous as free agency approached. A deal between the GOAT and my ride or die team – the greatest marriage in NFL history – just wasn’t seeming to come together.

Then came the shock of a lifetime, when Brady wished the Patriots organization and fans farewell in a statement on social media.  A true class act.

I was in shock, not so much because I didn’t expect it, but that it finally became a reality. After 20 seasons, Tom Brady would no longer be a New England Patriot.

I’ll always be a Patriots fan – I lived through the years where they were incredibly bad. I’ll also always be a Brady fan, and support him wherever he goes. Yes, it’s possible to do both.

Perhaps the biggest shock of Brady leaving New England was when Colin Cowherd announced he would be signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were probably the last team most insiders and experts believed he would sign with.

I must admit, when I first heard he would be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, I was baffled. I also thought they were the last likely option. I didn’t understand how spending his final years in Tampa Bay would be meaningful – I thought of Joe Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs.

As I took time to let it sink in and start to examine the evidence, I started to turn the corner. Tampa Bay arguably may not have been the best team for a ‘win now’ situation, but they’re certainly in better position to make the playoffs and be competitive than my initial reaction. Although I don’t foresee them winning a Super Bowl with Brady, I learned you can never count that man out.

At the end of the day, Brady knew the Patriots simply weren’t good enough last season. In the off season, he’s watched Bill Belichick swing and miss on free agency. They made no serious attempts to sign a star player on offense, and lost Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy on defense. Tom has two years left and needs to win now. Belichick is playing the long game. It’s simply not a fit.

Last season, the Buccaneers were tied for 3rd in the league in overall points scored. They finished 7-9 and managed to do that while quarterback Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions. They played in close games with the Saints, Titans, Seahawks and Texans. I see a young, hungry offense with weapons that Tom Brady would have dreamed of in New England last season – 6’5 Mike Evans and 6’1 Chris Godwin – both Pro Bowl receivers. They have a young, two-headed monster in tights ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. The Buccaneers have a young upstart offensive coordinator in Byron Leftwich, and a special head coach in Bruce Arians.

The defense, which started out as a complete dumpster fire last season, is finally turning into the model that defensive mastermind Todd Bowles mapped out when he was hired in 2019. Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett led the league in sacks last season, and he lines up alongside Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 8.5 sacks in 10 games last season.

Simply put, this team has good personnel. Underrated personnel, in fact. And now they’ll add the greatest quarterback of all time. A quarterback at 43-years-old who still understands how to read defenses, who’s a master of play action, who’s accurate, who won’t make too many mistakes with the football, who can lead a team and put together a game winning drive.

Their biggest weaknesses going into the season will be the running backs and offensive line. They have cap room to address both of those needs.

The Buccaneers will be a must watch team during the 2020 season with Tom Brady. But Tom Brady will always be a Patriot in my heart.

About the author

Brad Shepard

Brad's journalism work has been credited in Fox Business, Washington Post, New York Daily News, New York Post, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, Deadspin, Yahoo Sports, Forbes, Golf Digest, Bleacher Report, Sporting News, The Sun, NESN, Breitbart, Zero Hedge, and ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, among others.

He has appeared on Fox Sports Radio, ESPN Radio, Sky Sports Radio in the UK and Vibe 105 FM in Toronto. He currently co-hosts the “Oh, You Didn’t Know” Wrestling Show, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Brad was internationally credited for breaking the story of the XFL return.
He was voted one of the top 50 best Twitter accounts to follow by The Wrestling Estate. You can follow Brad on Twitter at @TheBradShepard.