TAMPA — The Bucs want to keep as many members of the Super Bowl 55 championship team together as possible for the 2021 season.
That said, in his last meeting with players who won the franchise’s second Lombardi Trophy, Bucs coach Bruce Arians made it clear that the team isn’t returning as Super Bowl champions.
“When I said goodbye, we said goodbye to this season, this team,” Arians said during a conference call Wednesday. “Next year is a different team. When we come back, we’re not Super Bowl champions. We’re just the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s for everyone to find their role, whatever that might be and then embrace it.
“We did learn this year to embrace those roles and know that at any one time they could change and be bigger or smaller and the team is still the main thing. We had a long talk about that when we broke up as a team. We said, ‘Congratulations, but this team is history. Next year is a whole new ballclub, man. We ain’t done (crap).’”
The Bucs have a solid core of players returning for 2021. But they also have a number of key free agents they hope to retain, a list that includes outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, receiver Chris Godwin, linebacker Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski, kicker Ryan Succop and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
There’s bound to be changes, but Arians’ message was clear: defending a Super Bowl title isn’t easy.