It’s unlikely Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady will have their same receiving corps next season.
Kansas City and Tampa Bay have several starters, including some notable pass catchers, scheduled to become free agents next month. With the NFL salary cap going down for the first time since 2011 — it’s projected to decrease by more than $20 million because of COVID-19 repercussions — teams will have difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks.
So the Super Bowl between the Chiefs and Buccaneers will serve as a farewell for several players with their current team. Here’s a look at some of the game’s most prominent names slated to hit the open market (in alphabetical order):
—Bucs pass rusher Shaq Barrett, who led the NFL with 19½ sacks in 2019, played under a one-year, $15.9 million franchise tag in 2020. He has 11 sacks this season, including three in the NFC championship game against Green Bay. Tampa is close to $30 million under the estimated salary cap and might spend a good chunk of it on the 28-year-old linebacker.
“I’m not expecting that I would be going anywhere else,” said Barrett, who rented a home the last two years and wants to “start laying roots" in Tampa.
—Chiefs running back LeVeon Bell made nearly $14 million in 2020, with most of that being paid by the New York Jets. He considered signing with Buffalo and Miami before landing in Kansas City, which is unlikely to bring him back. The Chiefs are an estimated $20 million over the projected cap.
—Bucs receiver Antonio Brown might be out of the league if not for Brady. Brown signed a one-year, $1.6 million contract with Tampa in late October and has been a model citizen since. Although he might want to test free agency, it’s unclear if anyone would take a chance on him.
—Bucs linebacker Lavonte David has been a mainstay in Tampa’s lineup for nine years. He’s wrapping up a five-year, $50.25 million deal, but no one would be surprised to see the 31-year-old defensive leader remain in his home state (maybe even at a discounted rate) for the rest of his pro career.