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Super Bowl champ Bucs confident about re-signing free agents

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Monday the team will do everything it can to retain several key players who are hit free agency this off-season. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Monday the team will "do everything it can" to retain several key players who are hit free agency this off-season. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians expressed confidence Monday that the franchise will re-sign several key players who are to become free agents, saying "sometimes dollars don't matter."

Arians made the comment during a Zoom conference call with reporters the day after the Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV on Sunday in Tampa, Fla.

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Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also participated in the conference call.

Sunday's Super Bowl victory gave Arians his first title as a head coach. Arians on Monday complimented his team's chemistry and drive throughout the 2020 season, which was one of the most-difficult in NFL history because of interruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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"This is one of the closest teams I've had and we couldn't eat together and couldn't talk together," Arians said, referring to the NFL's strict COVID-19 protocol.

"The bonding happened and I'm still trying to figure out how. In the pandemic, this was such a hard year for the team to be close."

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Arians, 68, also became the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl. He said he has no plans to retire after his team claimed the Vince Lombardi trophy.

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Brady, 43, is signed with the Buccaneers through the 2021 season, but tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette, pass rusher Shaquil Barrett, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and wide receiver Antonio Brown are among several key players set to hit free agency this off-season.

"I'm very confident [players will re-sign with the Buccaneers]," Arians said. "I have all the trust in the world in [general manager] Jason Licht and what he will do.

"These guys have a bond. There will be dollars involved, but I think this group is so close that sometimes dollars don't matter. But we are going to do everything we can to get the dollars right too because they earned it."

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The Buccaneers have $28.8 million in projected salary cap space in 2021, according to OverTheCap.com. That ranks seventh-highest among the NFL's 32 teams. Brady was the team's highest-paid player this season, with a guaranteed salary of $25 million.

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Brady said the Buccaneers were able to build chemistry this season because they were constantly together practicing and talking about football, due to COVID-19 restrictions, which meant there wasn't much else to do.

"In a unique way, with the coronavirus situation and protocols, it was like football for junkies," Brady said on the conference call. "There weren't a lot of things to do other than show up and play.

"If you love football, this was the year to be a player in the NFL. It was like football camp with your buddies all year."

The NFL's free agency period starts on March 17, the first day of the 2021 league year.

Teams and agents can start negotiations on March 15 for players set to become free agents. Players, however, are not permitted to speak directly to teams from March 15 to 17, a two-day window known as the legal tampering period.

Buccaneers defeat Chiefs 31-9 at Super Bowl LV

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady is presented the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 to win Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

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