TAMPA- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have just begun off-season training activities (organized team activities/ OTAs) and despite it being voluntary, quarterback Tom Brady and the crew are getting together on their own.
During the voluntary period, which most teams encourage players to participate in, each franchise evaluates their new rookies and gets veterans back into the swing of things. After the voluntary period there is a brief break and then the players return for training camp in July.
The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers don’t have a ton of moving parts to worry about, as Tampa Bay returns all 22 starters on both the offense and defense from last season. Bruce Arians made guarantees after winning the Lombardi Trophy that he wanted to bring back key pieces like wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Shaq Barrett. They were able to and then some.
If you look around the entire roster, from top to bottom, the Buccaneers will be a loaded unit. At the tight end position, Tampa Bay is slated to bring back the trio of Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and OJ Howard, who missed most of last season due to an achilles tear. Now with all three tight ends back in the mix, Brady should have his full complement of receivers.
Moving over to the wide receiver position, the Buccaneers are just absolutely loaded. With Godwin back and All-Pros like Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and speedster Scotty Miller, Arians and offensive coordinator Bryon Leftwich have everyone back in the mix. A new face in the quarterback room will be former University of Florida signal caller Kyle Trask, who will get to learn under Brady and start being groomed as the heir apparent.
The linebacker room is pretty as well, with Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Devin White, LaVonte David and rookie Joe Tryon all vying for positions. Tryon was the team’s first round draft pick and will get a chance to learn from some of the best at their position in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme. There’s no defensive unit that comes in more prepared and loaded with talent than the Buccaneers and the chance to repeat seems like a possibility.
The rest of the National Football League won’t be surprised this time around about what Brady and the Buccaneers are capable of, but the rest of the league also hasn’t seen the team have an entire off-season fully together either. The road to the Super Bowl starts in Tampa Bay, but will it end in Los Angeles (where the next Super Bowl will be hosted)?
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.