The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are cherry-picking the New England Patriots of their star talent. You can argue that Tom Brady and their latest addition, Rob Gronkowski, are old, and fragile are hanging on by a thread. You’d be right about all of that, but you still have to look at the body of work these two have put in with the Patriots. Actions speak louder than words, which in this case, are Super Bowl rings.
It’s not too crazy to think the Bucs could make the playoffs this year. They finished just shy of making it there, with a vision-impaired QB. Jameis Winston was so bad last season, it’s hard to believe, but the stats don’t lie. According to Pro Football Reference, Winston threw 30 picks last season, compared to 33 touchdowns.
In comparison, Tom Brady threw 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions, with an arguably worse receiving core. It should also be noted that Brady has only thrown double-digit picks three times, in the past decade.
It’s safe to say that the Bucs made an upgrade with Brady. He’s also being handed the reins to a deadlier duo of receivers (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin). Those two combined for 2,490 yards and 15 scores, averaging over 16 yards per catch.
That’s all fine and good, but does Gronkowski truly push them to the brink of being a playoff contender? Physicality wise, it’s hard to say that a player with a metal spine could make that much difference. However, this is Gronk. His family is ingrained in the sport, he has the tenacity and work ethic to contribute. His numbers will undoubtedly decrease, and he’s lost weight since retiring, but he’s still a large specimen.
Gronkowski took to the WWE and recently won the 24/7 title, his first belt. Those aren’t just handed out, he had to earn it, so he does have some physicality and tenacity left in him. He might only play here and there, and he might make an impact in limited opportunities, but the idea of hooking back up with Brady has to have him stoked.
The Bucs have been playing the off-season smart, making low-risk, high-reward deals. The best-case scenario is they make the playoffs and put themselves in contention for a ring. After all, that has to be what Brady and Gronk want. Worst case scenario is Gronk, Brady, or both end up getting injured and the Bucs have to eat a one and two-year salary, in addition to the fourth-round pick they traded to the Pats.
It seems Tampa Bay has become the new place where veteran talent is conglomerated with the hopes of producing. First came Bruce Arians, then came Brady, and now there’s Gronk. With the NFL draft later this week, all eyes will be on Tampa Bay to see how they will outfit the rest of the squad.
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