'Tompa Bay' is Titletown: Tom Brady, fierce defense lead Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl victory

'Tompa Bay' is Titletown: Tom Brady, fierce defense lead Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl victory

TAMPA, Fla. — Eleven months ago, it was inconceivable that quarterback Tom Brady would choose, of all teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to continue his football journey.

Equally implausible was this partnership — forged in an offseason ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, with little time to connect with new teammates or master a new playbook — would yield Brady’s seventh Lombardi trophy and 10th Super Bowl.

At the age of 43. On his home turf at Raymond James Stadium.

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But Sunday night, playing for the first hometown crowd in Super Bowl history and 7,500 health care workers, Brady and the Bucs defeated

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw three touchdowns in earning his seventh Super Bowl ring. Mark LoMoglio/AP Photo

The same with Brady walking into the wrong house and getting kicked out of a public park during stay-at-home orders, which resulted in a semi-awkward run-in with the mayor and a promise she’ll have to try to fulfill: renaming “Tampa Bay” into “Tampa Brady.”

“Tompa Bay” has a nice ring to it too. Hey, a deal’s a deal.

Three players Brady personally recruited to join him in Tampa — tight end

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The Bucs closed out the regular season on a four-game winning streak and haven’t looked back, winning three postseason games on the road — including trips to New Orleans and Green Bay to face Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers — before dethroning the Chiefs on Sunday night, becoming the fourth team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl as a road wild-card team. Now comes a new test for a team still adjusting to life in the spotlight: win back-to-back, something Brady did only once with the Patriots, in 2003 and 2004, and something the Chiefs fell short on in 2020. Brady will be in his second year of a two-year, $50 million contract, and this week he said he would “definitely consider” playing beyond age 45, which could extend the Bucs’ window to contend.

Gronkowski has already pledged his return. But they’ll need to re-sign Godwin, who becomes an unrestricted free agent. So too will pass-rusher Shaq Barrett, with whom they couldn’t get a deal done last offseason, forcing him to play under the franchise tag, and linebacker Lavonte David. The Bucs will have roughly $30 million in salary-cap space.

The coaches and front office have been thrilled with receiver Antonio Brown. Can they re-sign him, and can he continue moving his life in a better direction without the structure of a season? His civil suit was moved to December 2021 due to the coronavirus. There’s also running back Leonard Fournette, whose 313 scrimmage yards heading into Sunday were the most of any player during the playoffs. Will they be able to bring him back?

“We were obviously all-in for this season, but the way that we’re set up right now — there’s a lot of questions and a lot of unknowns right now in terms of what the salary cap is going to be, but I think we’re set up beautifully,” Licht said. “A young defense, a young secondary, young receivers [and] a fairly young offensive line. I wouldn’t say it changed on March 20 [when Brady signed]. We’re still looking long term, and we still have a plan long term [with] the way we set things up.”

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