Tom Brady doesn't merely lead teams to Super Bowl wins on the field. He also helps keep together championship teams that have salary cap issues.
So sackmaster Shaq Barrett, fellow standout linebacker Lavonte David and old buddy Rob Gronkowski will remain in Tampa Bay.
Just as he had done several times in New England, Brady reworked his big-ticket contract last week to free up money in free agency. The Buccaneers used it to keep David, and on Monday, the first day of “legal tampering” before the NFL's business year begins on Wednesday, the 28-year-old Barrett agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract with $36 million guaranteed, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed.
Later in the day, Gronk agreed to return for his 11th season with Brady on a one-year, $10 million deal — up from the $9.25 million he earned in 2020.
Meanwhile, back in Brady's former stomping grounds, the Patriots were spending wildly in an attempt to recapture the glory he produced before heading south last season.
New England opened its vaults wider than any other team on Monday, something unusual for a club that normally avoids chasing the most expensive free agents. Of course, the Patriots went 7-9 without Brady in 2020.
Joining them are linebacker/edge rusher Matthew Judon from Baltimore; tight end Jonnu Smith from Tennessee; nose tackle Davon Godchaux from Miami; and defensive back Jalen Mills from Philadelphia.
Judon, 28, will get a four-year, $56 million pact with $32 million guaranteed, a person with knowledge of the contract told The Associated Press. Smith, 25, will be paid $50 million over four years to try to fill the void created when Gronkowski retired after the 2018 season — only to return last year to reunite with Brady in Tampa Bay.