The Brady-Gronk Show Has Landed in Tampa. How Good Are the Buccaneers Now?

The party is underway in Tampa Bay.

Somehow, the Buccaneers pulled out the top prize from the NFL’s offseason goodie box by winning the recent Tom Brady sweepstakes. It’s a move few saw coming when word of Brady’s discontent with the New England Patriots began to swirl at the end of the 2019 campaign.

Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion, and the Bucs agreed to a two-year, $50 million deal on March 20. After a month of cajoling from the legendary quarterback, Tampa Bay acquired retired New England tight end Rob Gronkowski via trade on April 21.

Tampa Bay suddenly steps up as a contender with Gronk and Brady. The way fans engage with the team is also likely to shift. For example, the Bucs, who were once weekly underdogs in American football picks, could become a regular favorite at online sportsbooks with NFL betting odds throughout the season.

Now that the table is set for a much-ballyhooed reunion about come August in Western Florida, there’s just one question floating through the NFL–

Just how good are the Bucs with Brady and Gronk? 

The short answer is the team should fare better than they have in a long time*.

Notice the asterisk.

Better is relative when comparing one’s past to one’s future. Fans believing the Super Bowl magic of 2014-2018-era Brady-Gronk will simply transfer to Tampa Bay should temper their expectations.

The reality is Brady will be 43-years-old at the start of the 2020 season. Gronk sat out 2019 in retirement. This team is not the years-in-the-making culmination of Bill Belicheck’s master scheme.

Still, ‘better’ goes a long way in Tampa Bay. The Bucs have posted a single winning season (2016) in the past nine years and haven’t reached the playoffs since 2007–they were KO’d by the Giants in the NFC South Wild Card round.

The last time Tampa Bay advanced beyond the Wild Card was 2002 en route to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl win.

So what’s realistic?

Current predictions by NFL insiders see the Bucs nabbing 10 wins in the regular season, a mark they haven’t accomplished since 2010. If Kansas City, Baltimore, San Francisco, and New Orleans are the league’s top-tier squads heading into 2020, consider Tampa Bay a solid second-tier resident.

The Bucs face an uphill battle against Drew Brees and the Saints to win the NFC South. The potential for New Orleans to dominate the division they’ve claimed for the past three seasons remains intact.

Tampa Bay is still a playoff-caliber team. One prominent outlet pegs their likelihood of making the postseason at 62.95-percent. Every fan of a team in a 13-season playoff drought has to like that number.

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The depth stretches beyond the dynamic duo

Brady joins a Tampa Bay squad already on the rise, and in turn, gets a strong supporting cast. Gronk will be far from his only capable receiver.

Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are two Pro-Bowlers rounding out a formidable cohort of wideouts. Meanwhile, O.J. Howard pairs nicely with Gronk at tight end.

Coach Bruce Arians, who enters his sophomore season helming the Bucs, is a widely-recognized “quarterback whisperer” and a guiding force behind the careers of Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Andrew Luck.

Brady doesn’t need any career development these days, but he can only thrive in a QB-centric environment.

The Bucs also welcome some new faces joining fresh from the 2020 NFL Draft.

Tristan Wirfs (OT), last season’s Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year at Iowa, adds a beefy layer of protection for Brady on the O-line. Second-round pick safety  Antoine Winfield Jr. (S) out of Minnesota shores up the defensive secondary. Third rounder Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB) from Vanderbilt figures to bolster the run game alongside Ronald Jones II.

The big takeaway is this: while it’s premature to begin planning a Super Bowl parade through Tampa Bay, fans are likely to remember 2020 as the year the Bucs finally turned it around.

AFI
American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!
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