Bruce Arians hopes Buccaneers can keep most of their free agents: 'I think our guys really want to stay'
NFL 

After winning Super Bowl LV, the next task for Tampa Bay Buccaneers brass is to retain much of the talent that helped lift a Lombardi Trophy to make a run at a repeat.

Chris Godwin, Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and Leonard Fournette are just some of the big-name Bucs slated to hit free agency in a month.

Speaking on 95.3 WDAE Radio on Thursday ahead of Friday’s Arians Family Foundation event, “Happy Hour Cocktails with The Arians,” coach Bruce Arians said he hopes that the allure of potentially winning another championship can pull most of those free agents back to Tampa.

“If it’s close, I think our guys really want to stay,” Arians said, via Greg Auman of The Athletic.

The Bucs are in solid shape salary cap-wise compared to much of the league. The NFL just raised the cap floor to $180 million, which could help some veterans find money on the open market.

Arians believes that if the Bucs can make competitive offers, they’ll keep many of their free agents.

“It’s usually the money … if it’s close, I think our guys really want to stay,” he said. “They know they have something special. I don’t think any of them want to leave. I don’t get involved in the dollars. I just let them know we want them back.”

For players like Suh and Gronk, the question is whether the allure of another Lombardi run with Tom Brady will trump dollars other teams might toss their way.

“I don’t think it’ll trump it much,” Arians said. “Hopefully, we can keep them within the framework of the team. I know they both want to be back.”

Brady’s presence should have veterans seeking to chase a ring want to join the Bucs. Likewise, TB12 could help keep a number of players who helped win the Super Bowl in Tampa.

Godwin sits as potentially the top receiver slated to be a free agent. The Bucs won’t let the wideout leave the building. It might take franchise-tagging the 24-year-old (estimated around $16 million) to ensure he’s around for another year, but of all Tampa’s free agents, Godwin seems like the least likely to hit the open market.

The Bucs are already paying Mike Evans $12.25 million in base salary in 2021. There will be a lot of money tied up at the position in Tampa, but Arians believes the talent is worth the price. 

“He loves it here,” Arians said of Godwin. “It’s hard to leave and go to another system just for money. But it’s not bad paying two No. 1 receivers, that’s for sure, when they’re as good as our two No. 1s.”

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