Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2020 NFL free-agent signings: Tom Brady transforms expectations

The Buccaneers check all the boxes for Brady (1:09)

Jeff Darlington elaborates on how the Buccaneers have everything Tom Brady needs to succeed. (1:09)

NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2020 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from Bill Barnwell. The new league year begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, which means free-agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2020 NFL draft begins April 23.

Here's a breakdown of every 2020 NFL free-agent signing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Tom Brady, quarterback

The Buccaneers are the expected landing spot for Brady barring any unforeseen circumstances, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington.

What it means: After twice being left at the altar by Bill Parcells and in the final hour by Chip Kelly, unsuccessful courtships of Bill Cowher and Brett Favre, and getting stiff-armed by Bo Jackson, the Buccaneers somehow managed to land the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback. This signing dramatically changes the trajectory of an organization that hasn’t been to the postseason in 12 years -- the NFL’s second-longest postseason drought, behind only the Cleveland Browns -- and averaged just 51,898 fans last season, 30th in the NFL.

What’s the risk: By signing with a club that’s had just two winning seasons over the past decade and has gone through five head coaches since winning the Super Bowl to cap the 2002 season, Brady isn’t afraid to put his pristine legacy on the line -- that’s truly the biggest risk here. Brady’s age -- he turns 42 in August -- could be a concern for coach Bruce Arians’ “No risk it, no biscuit” system, too. But Arians’ staff of Byron Leftwich, Clyde Christensen and Tom Moore is more than willing to collaborate, and Arians has had experience with a veteran QB in Carson Palmer.

Shaquil Barrett, outside linebacker

The Buccaneers have placed the franchise tag on Barrett, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

A source told ESPN's Jenna Laine that Barrett will be tagged as an outside linebacker. While the franchise tag figures for the 2020 season have not yet been released, the tag for a linebacker in 2019 was $15.4 million.

Why he was tagged: Barrett has said that he wants to remain in Tampa, and a long-term deal is the end goal for both sides. This buys the Bucs time to be able to do that, while seeing if Barrett can replicate the magic of last season, when he went from a one-year "prove-it" deal and fighting for a job in the fourth preseason game to making the Pro Bowl.

What he brings: The Bucs tallied 47.0 sacks last year as a team; more than 41% of those came from Barrett, who became just the second Bucs player to reach double-digit sacks since Simeon Rice in 2005 (the first was Jason Pierre-Paul, who recorded 12.5 in 2018). Not only does Barrett bring a number of pass-rush moves, but also countermoves in the event he doesn't win initially.

Jason Pierre-Paul, outside linebacker

Pierre-Paul is going back to Tampa Bay on a two-year, $27 million deal, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

What it means: It was a priority for the Bucs to keep their front seven intact. After franchise-tagging Barrett, the Bucs agreed to terms with Pierre-Paul, whose $13.5 million average per-year salary ranks 12th-highest among outside linebackers -- reasonable but not bank-breaking. They'll need sufficient funds to sign a starting quarterback as they don't have one currently under contract.

What's the risk: Pierre-Paul's neck is structurally fine after he fractured two vertebrae last offseason in a car accident. He came back to register 8.5 sacks in Weeks 8-17 -- fourth most in the league. At 31, though, will age be a factor? It hasn't shown yet. "I call him Gumby," outside linebackers coach Larry Foote said. "The way he moves, the way he rushes -- as long as he keeps that up, he can play as long as he wants.”

Joe Haeg, offensive lineman

The Bucs added some offensive line protection for Brady on Friday, reaching an agreement with former Colts tackle Joe Haeg, a source told Adam Schefter.

What it means: The Bucs have wasted no time bolstering Brady’s protection. With starting right tackle Demar Dotson an unrestricted free agent, signing Haeg not only gives the Bucs an option at that spot, but also along the interior -- he is capable of playing every position on the offensive line. The Bucs surrendered 47 sacks last season -- one fewer than the league high.

What's the risk: Haeg did not start a game for the Colts last year, but he made 16 appearances. That’s what suggests this is more of a depth signing. Still, he has 35 career starts under his belt and is just 27. The Bucs can still address this position in the draft, with a very good group of tackles this year.

Bryant Mitchell, wide receiver

The Bucs agreed to terms with Mitchell on a one-year deal, a source told Adam Schefter.

What it means: Mitchell, who spent three seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, showed flashes last year prior to suffering a torn left Achilles tendon in training camp. “He was fighting like heck for that fifth [receiver] spot and making really good progress. It’s a shame," Arians said last year. He'll be competing with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Justin Watson and Scotty Miller for a roster spot.

What's the risk: There is minimal risk with this signing. Mitchell's surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Anderson, regarded as the sports world's premier foot and ankle specialist, who helped Richard Sherman return to form after his own Achilles tear.

Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle

The Bucs and Suh agreed to a one-year deal.

What it means: This was among the Bucs’ top priorities on defense after tagging Shaq Barrett and re-signing Jason Pierre-Paul. Suh did not show up much on the stat sheet last year, but they love his versatility. He takes on double teams and he’s paramount to Todd Bowles’ A-gap blitzes.

What's the risk: There is little risk in bringing back Suh on a one-year deal after a productive season last year, and players and coaches have praised him as a teammate. Linebacker Devin White said of Suh in a tweet, "One of the greatest, smartest and hardest-working vets that I ever been around."