Lately, all the talk around the National Football League regarding the 2022 season has been focused on the insane amount of player movement, especially in the AFC, and how certain teams that have made major additions will do.
But one team that has remained somewhat under the radar is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winners of the Super Bowl just one calendar year ago.
Tom Brady, arguably the greatest player of all time, is back for yet another campaign, and so will many other key members of the Bucs.
Many have been talking about the championship hopes of teams such as the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers and the reigning champion Los Angeles Rams.
But no one seems to be talking about the Buccaneers, when in fact they should be.
Tampa Bay Came Close to Repeating As World Champs
Perhaps people have forgotten that the Bucs finished with the best record in the NFL this past season at 13-4.
In addition, Brady had a banner year at age 44 with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns.
He could’ve easily won the league MVP award instead of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Facing the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Brady and crew fell behind 27-3 early in the third quarter, only to mount an incredible comeback and tie the contest at 27 with just 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
But Tampa Bay couldn’t stop Matthew Stafford‘s team from getting into field goal range and converting the game-winning kick with just a few seconds left.
The Bucs were without Chris Godwin, one of their star wide receivers, who was out with a torn ACL and sprained MCL.
One could make the argument that had he not gotten hurt, the Bucs would’ve beaten the Rams and moved on to play the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, who they likely would’ve been favored over.
The Bucs Remain (Mostly) Intact
When Brady first announced his “retirement,” it looked like multiple Tampa Bay players would also leave the team.
But shortly after the seven-time champ let it be known that he was returning, Godwin quickly signed a new contract worth $60 million over three years.
#Bucs WR Chris Godwin said Tom Brady texted him and Mike Evans in a group chat 20 minutes before Tom made his return announcement 🥰
Imagine sitting at the dinner table while Tom hits you with the "I'm back" text. WYD? 👇
— The Game Day NFL (@TheGameDayNFL) March 21, 2022
In addition, Tampa Bay still has wideout Mike Evans, who was named to the Pro Bowl in 2021 for his fourth time.
Evans had 1,035 yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns this past season while also performing well in the playoffs.
One key piece who is still reportedly undecided is tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has been with Brady for several years going back to their days on the New England Patriots.
According to reports, he is not sure if he wants to play another season, but some feel he is also waiting for an attractive contract offer.
With most of the crew intact, perhaps the only other question is when Godwin will be able to return.
Chris Godwin doesn't have a timetable for his return from his ACL injury. “I don’t have one in mind quite yet,'' he said. "This is my first time ever going through this. I’m not really sure what those kind of time lines look like. I’m not really sure…
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) March 21, 2022
But perhaps the best news for the Buccaneers is that the Packers don’t have Davante Adams anymore, while the Rams have lost linebacker Von Miller, and they could also be without defensive lineman Aaron Donald and wideout Odell Beckham Jr.
It could all add up to another Vince Lombardi Trophy for Brady and Tampa Bay.