Buccaneers’ Shaquil Barrett: ‘We most definitely are still going to be contenders’ without Tom Brady

As members of the NFL community come to terms with the idea of Tom Brady not being an active player for the first time since 2000 following his retirement this week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans have been left mourning the fact they lost their starting quarterback who led the league in multiple categories this past season and who recently earned a perfect 99 overall rating for the “Madden 22” video game. 

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht has vowed “to look for the best available option” as it pertains to replacing Brady this winter or spring, and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett told reporters during Thursday’s Pro Bowl media availability nobody should be expecting Tampa Bay to drop toward the basement of the standings next fall. 

“We most definitely are still going to be contenders,” Barrett remarked, per Scott Smith of the club’s website. “We’ve still got a lot of guys on the team who are hungry to have a taste of being in the playoffs, to have a taste of winning a Super Bowl. And I know the front office guys, they loved having a taste of the success that we had. So if anything, it’s a replication. Whoever it takes, we’re going to get those guys, and then the guys are going to make it happen, whatever we have to do. The offense has got to pick it up, the defense has got to pick it up, the special teams – whatever it is, we’re going to make it happen.”

As Kevin Patra noted for the league’s website, key Buccaneers players such as their top three running backs, wide receiver Chris Godwin, center Ryan Jensen, pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and tight end Rob Gronkowski are among the handful of individuals set to hit free agency when the new NFL year opens next month. Many assume Gronkowski will join Brady in retirement. 

“Trying to find somebody to replace Tom Brady is impossible,” Barrett added. “There’s no other Tom Bradys out there. So we’re going to try to find the next best player and help them be the best person they can be, and then rally around him and try to build a contender again.”

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