While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to keep a Super Bowl-winning roster together as best as possible this offseason, outsiders and analysts have often speculated and hypothesized just how the team can clear up cap space to retain its top imminent free agents.
Notably, wide receiver Mike Evans has reportedly offered to take a pay cut, while center Ryan Jensen and left tackle Donovan Smith are prime candidates to restructure and/or extend their deals as well to ensure their own guarantees and provide some immediate spending flexibility to the team.
The Buccaneers also have several potential cap casualties on the roster who are set to make large salaries in 2021 that might not be worthwhile, such as tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard and defensive end William Gholston.
However, there is one not-so-frequently-mentioned possibility that could save Tampa Bay some money, until now: Could Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady earn a contract extension to save the team some immediate cash?
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport shared on Wednesday that it "probably should happen," based on the sources he talks with.
"If Tom Brady gets a contract extension - which I must say, based on the people I've spoken with sounds like probably should happen," Rapoport proclaimed on Wednesday, "Brady would probably get either a one or two year extension, which would do a couple of things.
"It would open up the salary cap for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to do things like franchise tag [wide receiver] Chris Godwin and pay [edge rusher] Shaq Barrett, two things that they want to do very badly this offseason," he continued. "It would also lock in Brady for another year, and based on the way he played this year, it doesn't look like he's slowing down."
Spotrac currently projects the Buccaneers to own $28.2 million in 2021 salary cap space, which would making paying Barrett, Godwin, linebacker Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette, defensive end Ndamukong Suh, and other soon-to-be free agents extremely difficult.
Brady has been known to take one for the team, financially-speaking, throughout his 20-year with the New England Patriots. In fact, he's taken home over $20 million per season (from the team, and not including endorsements) just twice in his 21 seasons, one season being his latest, with the Buccaneers.
Spotrac has even created a mock contract restructure and extension for Brady, which would shed $10 million off of the Buccaneers' books in 2021 and keep the quarterback under team control through at least the 2022 season.
It would come of little surprise to see Brady do the same in order to chase another Super Bowl this upcoming season, as it would provide the 43-year-old with a clear financial path to retirement and the Buccaneers with the desperately-needed cap space flexibility to keep Brady surrounded with talent.