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Free agents lining up to play with Tom Brady? How about former teammates?

Former Patriots teammates such as Deon Lewis, Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan are available.
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett is on the market. Could he be looking to make his way to Tampa Bay for a reunion with Tom Brady?
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett is on the market. Could he be looking to make his way to Tampa Bay for a reunion with Tom Brady? [ MICHAEL ZITO | AP ]
Published Mar. 19, 2020

TAMPA — The Bucs have salary-cap space, no state income tax, an ascending team, coach Bruce Arians. Oh yeah, and very shortly, Tom Brady.

So of course they are going to have more than their share of unrestricted free agents wanting to play in Tampa Bay.

So far, the Bucs focus has been focused on retaining as many of their own free agents as possible. They used the franchise tag on Shaquil Barrett, the NFL sack leader. They re-signed linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. They still have an interest in re-signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Tampa Bay has $47.5 million of salary-cap space, according to overthecap.com; that’s third-most in the league. Brady will cost them about $30 million, although it could account for less on the cap, depending on the structure of his contract.

It doesn’t seem surprising, really, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter says an “unexpected" high number of free agents have reached out to the Bucs after news of Brady’s decision was made public.

The Bucs may want to surround Brady with a few players on offense that he is familiar with. Joe Montana said Wednesday that the toughest thing for him going to Kansas City was getting adjusted to new teammates and receivers.

There are several players on the market who played with Brady in New England. They include running back Deon Lewis, who was released by the Titans; and receivers Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan.

Dorsett had 29 catches for 387 yards and five touchdowns with the Patriots last season. Hogan missed most of the season with a knee injury with the Carolina Panthers and finished with eight catches (on 15 targets) for 67 yards in seven games played. With the Patriots in 2018, he caught 35 passes for 532 yards and three touchdowns.

There also has been plenty of talk about Antonio Brown and Brady clearly is one of his strongest advocates. But Brown’s status remains “under review” by the NFL.

As a Steelers offensive coordinator, Arians coached Brown during his first two seasons in Pittsburgh. He doesn’t recognize the same player.

“There’s too much miscommunication, too much ... diva,” Arians said on The Adam Schefter Podcast, via ESPN. “I’ve heard so many stories. I like Antonio,, He plays as hard as anybody on Sunday, and he practices hard. He’s just gotta make better decisions off the field, be on time, do some of those little things.”

The Bucs need an every-down running back. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is a free agent and is one year removed from a 5.1-yard rushing average. He also is a potent receiver. But the NFL draft is loaded with running backs that can be had at a much lower price.

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The Bucs have positions to address ... and shouldn’t have trouble getting free agents to pick up the phone.

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