Bruce Arians 'very confident' Bucs can bring back most of title team in 2021

Moments after winning Super Bowl LV, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began thinking about a repeat.

Brady is back for Year 2 in Tampa. Coach Bruce Arians didn't retire. Rob Gronkowski, a free agent, suggested he'd like to return. The stalwart offensive line and key young pieces in the secondary remain intact. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich return.

The foundation is there for Tampa to make a run at being the first back-to-back Super Bowl winners since Brady's Patriots in 2003-2004.

Even with the bulk of the champs' key contributors returning, Tampa still has some vital pieces set to hit the open market.

Edge rusher Shaq Barrett, who gave Patrick Mahomes nightmares Sunday, is a free agent after playing out the franchise tag. Longtime Bucs linebacker Lavonte David's contract is up. It'd be difficult to imagine David in any other jersey, but cost always plays a factor.

Receiver Chris Godwin is due for a significant pay raise and could get the franchise tag if sides can't find a long-term solution.

Other depth contributors like Ndamukong Suh, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette, who played huge in the playoffs, are also set to hit the market.

Despite the rash of questions heading into the offseason, Arians believes Tampa will figure out how to keep their core together.

"I'm very, very confident," Arians said in a Monday morning virtual press conference. "I have all the trust in the world in (GM) Jason (Licht) and what he would do. These guys, they have a bond. There will be dollars involved. But I think that this group is so, so close that sometimes dollars don't matter. But we're going to do everything we can to get the dollars right too because they earned it."

No club remains unchanged year to year. It will be on Licht to decide who to pay, and Tampa might have to part with.

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that the Bucs would like to bring Fournette back, but the market will dictate the course of action. Tampa also has Ronald Jones in the backfield, who enters a contract year, and could be looking for a new deal.

Brady has been Brown's biggest supporter. We'll see if that connection remains, and the Bucs can keep the trio of Evans-Godwin-Brown together in 2021.

The Bucs enter the offseason with a substantial amount of cap space, even considering the cap is expected to shrink significantly. Per Over The Cap, Tampa has nearly $29 million in cap space, seventh-most in the NFL. That should be enough for Tampa to hang onto several of their key free agents and set the stage for another run at a Lombardi Trophy.

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