The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have brought in tight end Darren Fells as Rob Gronkowski continues to struggle with injury.

Fells' agent Ron Slavin confirmed to NFL.com on Wednesday that the Bucs were signing the veteran to their practice squad and are set to elevate him to the main roster this week.

The Bucs later confirmed they had added Fells and also brought back their former wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who like Fells was initially added to the practice squad.

Gronkowski missed four games for the Bucs due to multiple rib fractures before attempting to return in Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints.

However, he was forced to leave the game with back spasms having not made a catch in the 36-27 loss.

The Bucs had a bye week in Week 9 but Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said on Tuesday there was still a worry over Gronkowski's fitness going into Sunday's game at the Washington Football Team (2-6).

Gronkowski had made a fast start to the season with 16 catches and four touchdowns over the first three weeks of the season before going down.

The presence of O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate meant the Bucs still had strong options at TE in his absence and the arrival of Fells – who was waived by the struggling Detroit Lions this week – will provide further depth.

The 35-year-old had 11 receiving touchdowns for the Houston Texans across 2019 and 2020, while he can also contribute as a run blocker.

New England Patriots great Gronkowski took a year out of football in 2019 before returning last season to re-join quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa and play his part in the Bucs' Super Bowl triumph.

The Bucs (6-2) are well placed for another postseason run despite losing to the Saints last time out.

They are top of the NFC South and, as things stand, are not scheduled to play a team with a winning record over the next four weeks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is unsure if star duo Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski will return for Sunday's NFL showdown with the Washington Football Team.

Brown has missed Tampa Bay's last two games due to an ankle injury, while Gronkowski is battling to overcome back spasms that flared up in the loss to the New Orleans Saints on October 31.

Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers are coming off the bye and practiced on Monday, though neither Brown nor Gronkowski were involved.

"I think you still have to worry a little bit about Gronk and I don't know if AB is going to be back," Arians told reporters.

"And Carlton [Davis III] will stay on IR [injured reserve]. We'll see if those other two guys are game-ready.

"It's one thing to practice, it's another thing to throw them out there in a game."

Gronkowski had four touchdown receptions in the season's first two games and 16 grabs overall prior to suffering his initial rib injury in Week 3 before missing four games.

Brown's average of 83.6 receiving yards per game is highest among all Buccaneers pass-catchers.

The Buccaneers (6-2) lead the NFL in points scored per game (32.5) and passing yards per game (327.5).

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker compared Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to NFL greats Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski after the star pair helped take down the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Altuve and Correa each homered for the Astros, who rallied to top the Red Sox 5-4 in Friday's ALCS opener at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Astros wiped out a 3-1 deficit behind Altuve's two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason home run as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th playoff homer – tied for seven-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th postseason RBI, the most among active players.

Baker hailed Altuve and Correa after the Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven matchup, likening them to Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstars Brady and Gronkowski.

"It's kind of like Tom Brady and [Rob] Gronkowski," Baker said, with Brady and Gronkowski enjoying great success together with the New England Patriots and now the Buccaneers.

"They know how they think. They know probably what they eat for dinner, what they like and what their kids like."

Altuve became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs.

The World Series winner has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

"He is just so dangerous," Correa said of Altuve. "His track record in the playoffs is insane, and he just inspires me. He inspires me without saying much."

"When I walk into that clubhouse in spring training and I see this guy that has won MVPs, Silver Sluggers, batting titles, Gold Gloves, Hank Aaron Awards," added Correa. "Every single award you can imagine, he has won it, and then he shows up to spring training wanting to work on different things to get even better."

Correa celebrated his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

"He is amazing. He likes this kind of game," Altuve said of Correa. "He wants to go out there and hit big homers. It seems like he expects to go out there and do it, so if you're expecting something, eventually you're going to make it happen, and that's him."

Correa's heroics prompted the Astros star to drop his bat and point to his wrist after homering against the Red Sox.

"It's to my team-mates," Correa explained. "When the playoffs start, they always tell me 'it's your time now to go out there, hit homers.' They told me to hit the watch, when I hit the homer.

"I did it in Chicago [in the ALDS] the first time on my own, and today they told me 'if you hit a homer, hit them with the, it's your time'."

Rob Gronkowski will again be missing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' clash against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. 

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski suffered a rib injury in the Week 3 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, forcing him to miss games against the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. 

The 32-year-old has not practiced all week and will play no part in Thursday's contest in Philadelphia, the team confirmed. 

The tight end had been a key offensive weapon for the Bucs prior to his injury, with 16 receptions for 184 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensive starters Lavonte David and Antoine Winfield Jr. have also been ruled out of the game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Center Ryan Jensen (hip), edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/hand) and defensive end Patrick O'Connor (calf), meanwhile, were all listed as questionable in Wednesday's injury report. 

Quarterback Tom Brady has been dealing with a thumb injury but is set to lead the Tampa Bay offense as the Bucs look to move to 5-1.

Rob Gronkowski will not travel with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Sunday's game against his former team the New England Patriots, according to reports.

Gronkowski was listed as "doubtful" on Friday's injury report due to a rib complaint, but ESPN and NFL Network said on Saturday he had been ruled out.

The tight end will miss the chance to take on the Patriots for the first time in a game that will also see quarterback Tom Brady return to Foxborough.

Gronkowski spent the first nine years of his career with New England, in which time he scored 92 overall touchdowns across the regular season and postseason – leading the league at his position – and won three Super Bowls.

The 32-year-old then retired in 2019, only to reverse his decision a year later and join the Bucs when Pats legend Brady also left for Tampa, where they teamed up for another Super Bowl success.

Gronkowski's 13 TDs since returning to the league trail only Travis Kelce's 17 among tight ends, but he will not get the opportunity to add to that total on Sunday thanks to an injury sustained in the Week 3 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians says four-time SuperBowl champion Rob Gronkowski will be a "game time decision" to play on Sunday against the New England Patriots.

The Bucs take on the Patriots in Tom Brady's return to Foxborough, with Tampa Bay currently 2-1 after a Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams 34-24.

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski missed two practices this week with a rib injury and is questionable to play.

Gronkowski, who was also with the Patriots from 2010 to 2018, suffered the injury in the third quarter against the Rams but did return to play.

The tight end has been a key offensive weapon for the Bucs this season, with 16 receptions for 184 yards and four touchdowns.

The Bucs have further injury worries with outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul in doubt with a hand/shoulder issue.

Brady going to his former side has been the subject of plenty of attention this week but Arians said the team's main focus was on a strong response after the Rams defeat.

"Hell of a week of practice," Arians said. "You could really feel the difference in intensity this week.

"It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with Brady. It has to do with losing. I liked the way we bounced back on the practice field."

The debate over whether Bill Belichick or Tom Brady was more responsible for the New England Patriots' dynasty is not one likely to die down any time soon.

But for Belichick's part, the Patriots coach has long since accepted he would not have enjoyed the same success, which saw New England win six Super Bowls in Brady's 20 seasons as quarterback, had another player been under center.

Asked at a media conference if New England would have dominated to the same extent without Brady, Belichick replied: "Of course not. We talked about that for two decades.

"I think I've been on the record dozens of times saying there's no quarterback I would rather have than Tom Brady and I still feel that way.

"I was very lucky to have Tom as the quarterback, to coach him, and he was as good as any coach could ever ask for."

Belichick's fondness for Brady did not stop him from allowing the Patriots' greatest player to leave in the offseason before the 2020 campaign.

Brady moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and promptly won a seventh Super Bowl ring.

While Belichick will have to plan for a game against Brady for the first time when the Buccaneers visit the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, he will likely not have to face tight end Rob Gronkowski, whom the Patriots traded to the Bucs last season after he came out of retirement.

Gronkowski was listed as doubtful on the Bucs' injury report, having suffered a rib injury during Tampa Bay's Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Running back Giovani Bernard and cornerback Jamel Dean have both been ruled out, the latter's absence potentially meaning playing time for a new signing in five-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman.

The third week of the NFL season is not short of enticing matchups.

A divisional showdown between two high-powered AFC West offenses in the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers headlines the early slate of games, while Sunday's primetime matchup sees a rematch of the NFC Championship Game as the Green Bay Packers visit the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers.

Sandwiched in between those fascinating contests is an encounter that most will see as the game of the week, one that could have a pivotal impact on the NFC playoff picture come the end of the season, as Tom Brady plays in Los Angeles for the first time in his professional career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going out west to take on the Rams.

Beyond being a battle of unbeaten teams, it is an encounter that pits one of the game's most celebrated quarterbacks against one of its most underappreciated, who is thriving in his opening weeks playing for the Rams having been freed from the shackles of a listless Detroit Lions franchise.

Both Brady and Matthew Stafford have started the season as most expected them to, operating at a level to suggest they can propel their respective teams to deep postseason runs.

However, they each will take on defenses stacked with the talent to shut down even the most prolific offenses when at their best. It promises to be a tremendous spectacle at SoFi Stadium, one that should provide an early barometer as to who is the class of the NFC.

Little to separate stellar QBs

Brady is ancient by NFL standards, but his remarkable longevity has turned the fact he continues to excel at age 44 into old news. Nobody is surprised by his continuing brilliance, which sees him lead the league with nine passing touchdowns in two games, four more than Stafford.

Yet a man who has turned performing when the pressure is at its highest in the playoffs into an art is essentially neck and neck with a quarterback yet to taste a postseason victory when it comes to accuracy so far this season.

Stafford has a well-thrown ball percentage of 81.5, putting him just below Brady on 81.7, though it is the former Lion who has the edge when it comes to delivering accurately under pressure.

The Rams' signal-caller ranks fifth among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts under duress this season with a well-thrown percentage of 80 when pressured. Brady has a less impressive ratio of 75 per cent, though that is still well above the average of 69.2 per cent.

Stafford also has a string to his bow that is not a part of Brady's arsenal, as he has settled superbly into Sean McVay's offense and quickly adapted to an attack that consistently relies on the play-action bootleg.

On his nine throws where he has been on the move, Stafford has produced a well-thrown ball 88.9 per cent of the time, compared to 75 per cent on four such attempts for Brady.

That difference reflects the contrasts in offensive approach, but the opportunity to get on the move and outside of the pocket gives Stafford a potentially pivotal avenue to avoid an often ferocious Buccaneers defensive front.

Compelling cases for the defense

Stafford may find encouragement in that a Buccaneers pass rush that pressured Patrick Mahomes 33 times in their Super Bowl win last season has been, for the most part, held in check through two weeks.

Edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, who led the Bucs with 13 pressures of Mahomes, has won just 11 of his 44 pass rush attempts so far, according to Stats Perform data. Things have gone even worse for veteran Jason Pierre-Paul with a solitary win on 34 attempts.

Pierre-Paul's struggles may mean more of rookie Joe Tryon, who has won four of his 12 rushes, but Tampa can at least be fairly confident of pressuring Stafford up the middle, with defensive tackle Vita Vea prevailing on nine of his 25 attempts.

Despite the lack of pressure, Stafford – who has thrown an interceptable pass on 3.7 per cent of his attempts – must be wary of a defense that has already produced four turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns, with starting cornerbacks Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean each enjoying strong starts to the campaign. Davis has allowed a receiver to get open on five of his 22 coverage matchups, with Dean (6/21) also proving difficult for pass-catchers to separate from.

The primary threats on the Rams' defense are easy to identify.

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald has won a massive 65.63 per cent of his pass rushes despite being double teamed 19 times.

Meanwhile, on the back end, cornerback Jalen Ramsey has yet to allow an open receiver in 18 coverage matchups, further illustrating his status as one of the league's most dominant cornerbacks.

For the Bucs to prevail, Brady must avoid both.

Stacked supporting casts

For as much as the two defenses each possess the calibre of player to make a quarterback's life misery, both Brady and Stafford have the luxury of extremely strong offensive lines.

Indeed, the Rams have allowed only 16 pressures of Stafford this season, the fewest in the NFL. Tampa Bay's offensive line has given up 10 more, yet that still puts the Buccaneers tied fifth in the league.

And, should the theme of the two O-Lines giving their quarterbacks time continue, Brady and Stafford will have the opportunity to find some excellent pass-catching options.

Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin has recorded a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, 88.9 per cent of the time. That is the most among wide receivers with at least 10 targets. His big-play percentage of 46.7 is third among such wideouts.

Antonio Brown's presence on the reserve/COVID-19 list may see even more targets go to Godwin while tight end Rob Gronkowski should play a featured role with a burn percentage of 84.6 and four touchdowns through two games.

The change from Jared Goff to Stafford has not changed the identity of the two most important receivers for the Rams.

Robert Woods' burn percentage of 76.9 is sixth for wideouts with a minimum of 10 targets, and Cooper Kupp's burn yards per target average of 13.94 is second among receivers who have been targeted at least 20 times.

With two extremely accurate quarterbacks, weapons all over the field and a pair of elite defenses, there is little to choose between two teams that for now appear destined to be playing in January. Home advantage, a Rams offensive line that the numbers suggest is slightly superior to that of Tampa Bay and Stafford's greater mobility tip the scales in Los Angeles' favour on paper. Yet, if there is one player who can redress the balance, it is Brady.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won an opening-night thriller in the NFL, the Super Bowl champions overcoming the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 thanks to a field goal with two seconds remaining.

The Cowboys led 29-28 with seven seconds on the clock at Raymond Jones Stadium – the home of the Buccaneers and the scene of their Super Bowl LV triumph in February.

But after Brady led an 11-play, 57-yard drive, Ryan Succop stepped up to convert the last-gasp field goal as the Buccaneers opened the 2021 season with a win.

It was another memorable outing for seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady (43), who passed Drew Brees for most career passing touchdowns in season openers in NFL history.

Brady completed 32 of 50 passes for 379 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions as the 44-year-old quarterback fuelled the Buccaneers.

Cowboys counterpart Dak Prescott – back on the field for the first time since his season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 of the 2020 season – was 42-for-58 passing, with 403 yards, three TDs and one interception.

Prescott has had 400-plus yards in four games since the start of last season – the most by any player in the NFL.

The Buccaneers and Cowboys traded touchdowns in the opening quarter – Brady finding Chris Godwin before Prescott's 22-yard pass was caught by CeeDee Lamb inside the final two minutes.

Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected for a touchdown as the Buccaneers reclaimed the lead and while Prescott's TD pass to Amari Cooper and a Greg Zuerlein field goal put Dallas ahead, Tampa Bay had the last say before half-time – Antonio Brown on the end of a 47-yard throw.

There was history made in the third quarter as Brady and Gronkowski combined for their 100th touchdown, the star pair joining Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (114) in the 100 club.

With his 22nd career game with multiple receiving TDs, Gronkowski broke a tie with Antonio Gates for most games by a tight end in the Super Bowl era and moved into a tie for sixth in any position.

Dallas only trailed 28-26 entering the final period thanks to Cooper's second TD and the visitors took the lead with just over a minute remaining via another Zuerlein field goal, but Succop and the Buccaneers were not to be denied.

Rob Gronkowski confirmed he held talks with rival teams in free agency before committing to Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for another year.

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski returned to the NFL last season, a year on from his retirement with the New England Patriots.

The tight end was traded to the Bucs, where he joined fellow Pats great Tom Brady for a successful title challenge.

According to reports, Gronkowski agreed to return to Tampa on the same terms as in 2020, signing a one-year, $10million pact.

But the four-time champion had earlier told The Ringer he wanted "just to see what's out there" in free agency.

As his new deal was formally announced on Monday, Gronkowski met the media and was asked about speculation he discussed a potential move to the Buffalo Bills.

"There was a little extent to that," said Gronkowski, who started all 20 regular season and playoff games last year and was targeted 91 times for 53 catches, 733 yards and nine touchdowns.

"I was a free agent, so as a free agent, you're allowed to talk to other teams. There were a couple of other teams, also.

"But just overall I wanted to be back with the Buccaneers organisation. Just the set-up here is just unbelievable. Just the chemistry that I've built over the last season is just fantastic.

"So just overall I wanted to come back to the Buccaneers.

"You know, it's football, you never know how things are going to play out. So it's just good to listen to what else is out there, and there was something to a little extent.

"I knew I wanted to be here."

The Bills were 13-3 last season, two wins better off than the Bucs, but lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

The Chiefs were subsequently blown away by Tampa, as Gronkowski scored two touchdowns in a dominant 31-9 win.

Of his 14 postseason scores - all of which have come from Brady passes, a playoff record - five have now come in Super Bowls.

Bucs GM Jason Licht said in a statement on Monday: "In addition to his contributions on the field, Gronk has quickly become one of the most beloved guys in our locker room.

"His ability to perform at a championship-calibre level week after week, while also uplifting everyone around him, makes him an invaluable presence in our building.

"Rob's accomplishments speak for themselves and make him one of the greatest to ever play the game at his position.

"We are thrilled to have him back with us as we pursue another title in Tampa."

Tampa have worked hard to reassemble their successful 2020 team.

Brady signed an extension, keeping him with the Bucs through 2022, while Chris Godwin was franchise-tagged and Lavonte David signed a new deal ahead of free agency.

Once the negotiating period began, Shaquil Barrett and Gronkowski also came back.

Rob Gronkowski will head back to Tampa Bay in 2021 as NFL champions the Buccaneers continue to reassemble their Super Bowl-winning team.

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski returned to the NFL last season, a year on from his retirement with the New England Patriots.

The tight end was traded to the Bucs, joining fellow Pats great Tom Brady for a title challenge.

As so often in their time together in New England, the season ended in spectacular fashion for Gronkowski and Brady as they won the Super Bowl in their new home stadium in Tampa.

Gronkowski had been playing on a one-year, $10million contract, though, making him a free agent this offseason.

Monday saw negotiations start between teams and potential signings, and Gronkowski told The Ringer: "You just never know what may happen."

The four-time champion added he wanted "just to see what's out there".

But the 31-year-old did not take long to make his decision as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Drew Rosenhaus, the player's agent, confirmed his return to the Bucs.

Gronkowski will play under the same terms again, signing for another season for $10m.

The former Patriot started all 16 regular-season games in 2020, although he was targeted only 77 times. He had 45 catches for 623 yards and seven touchdowns.

Gronkowski saved his best display for Super Bowl LV, however, with six receptions for 67 yards and two TDs in the dominant 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Of his 14 postseason scores – all of which have come from Brady passes, a playoff record – five have now come in Super Bowls.

The Bucs will hope to return to the big game next year after bringing back Gronkowski, along with fellow free agent Shaq Barrett, another key performer in the defeat of the Chiefs.

Brady last week extended his contract through 2022, meanwhile, as Tampa put the franchise tag on Chris Godwin.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are Super Bowl champions. So job done for Tom Brady and company, right?

Wrong.

In the aftermath of their crushing 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady was already speaking on the podium about running it back for another year.

And, having added a seventh Lombardi Trophy to his impressive collection, it's impossible to question the 43-year-old's confidence in pushing for number eight.

However, the reality is that, regardless of how dominant their playoff campaign was, the Bucs have significant issues to resolve if they are to emerge triumphant again next February.

Here we reflect on the season that delivered the Buccaneers' second Super Bowl title and examine the offseason challenges that will be critical to their hopes of successfully defending their crown. 

Offense

Though Brady's first season in Bruce Arians' offense was not without its growing pains, things eventually clicked for the Bucs through the air.

Brady was third in passing yards per game (289.6), behind only Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

Over the last four weeks of the regular season, however, Brady led the league in pass yards per game, racking up 333.3 as they surged into the postseason.

The move from New England to Tampa Bay also revived Brady's fortunes as a deep-ball thrower. Tampa had 67 completions of 20 yards or more, the third-most in the NFL behind the Houston Texans and the Chiefs.

Where they will hope to improve next year is in the explosiveness of the running game.

Leonard Fournette was the top running back in the postseason, rushing for 300 yards and three touchdowns, including one in the Super Bowl. 

He had five rushes of 10 yards or more in the playoffs but, in the regular season, it was a different story.

The Bucs ranked 29th in the NFL with an average of 94.9 yards per game, while their 34 runs of 10 yards or more were tied for second-last in the NFL.

If Tampa can improve in that regard in 2021, it will take a lot of the pressure off Brady's shoulders.

Defense

Brady may have won Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time, but it was the Bucs' defense that ensured the Chiefs had no way of coming back into the contest.

They pressured Mahomes 33 times in an effort that derailed the Chiefs' offensive game plan, with that performance reflective of the dominance the Bucs' defensive front produced throughout the season.

Indeed, Tampa Bay registered 48 sacks in the regular season, with the 366 negative yards those sacks produced second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers (-384).

Given the pressure they consistently generated, it is no surprise that the Bucs produced the fourth-most takeaways in the NFL (25).

A talented young secondary capitalised significantly on the disruption the front seven created, vindicating investment in the defensive backfield that had previously been questioned.

Safety Antoine Winfield enjoyed a stellar rookie year but the star of the show in the secondary was cornerback Carlton Davis, who had four interceptions and 18 pass breakups.

As a result of their ability to create pressure and turnovers, the Bucs ranked eighth in pass yards per play allowed (5.93).

The rush defense was even stronger, Tampa Bay leading the league as they gave up just 3.6 yards per run play.

Excelling at shutting teams down through the air and on the ground, the Bucs were sixth in opponent scoring efficiency and 10th in successful plays allowed.

Todd Bowles' defense was critical to the Bucs emerging from the 2020 season with the Lombardi in their possession, but difficult decisions loom as they attempt to keep the group together for another run in 2021.

The offseason

In a year where the salary cap could fall from $198million to, at the most optimistic estimate, $185m, the Bucs find themselves in a better position than most teams.

Assuming a $185m cap, the Bucs have nearly $28m to spend, yet the sheer number of free agents they have means Tampa will likely be bidding farewell to some key names from their championship team.

Shaquil Barrett, the edge rusher who had 13 pressures of Mahomes, is an unrestricted free agent in line for a monster payday. Veteran linebacker Lavonte David is also set to hit the open market, along with wide receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Fournette.

Gronkowski has already vowed to return and, given that the Bucs triumphed over the Chiefs with Godwin making just two catches, Tampa may be willing to say goodbye to the former third-round pick to facilitate them paying others.

Barrett and David figure to be the toughest players to re-sign, with the former likely to command something at least in the region of Joey Bosa's market-setting contract for edge rushers, which has an average annual value of $27m.

David may be willing to take a discount after nine seasons with Tampa, but the Bucs might have to face up to the possibility of throwing rookies into the mix on the edge and at linebacker, meaning there could be more pressure on that talented defensive backfield to deliver without the same level of play in the front seven.

Having won it all, the Bucs are effectively playing with house money - at least to those outside the building - and have several options with the 32nd overall pick in the draft.

But edge, linebacker and wide receiver all stand as potential areas of focus for a champion team that may have to revise their expectations of keeping the core of the band together.

Having come out of retirement to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV, Rob Gronkowski has no intention of hanging up the cleats again.

The Buccaneers sparingly used Gronkowski in the passing game for much of the 2020 season but he played a starring role on Sunday as Tampa Bay crushed the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.

The tight end caught six passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns, the connection between him and Tom Brady, which helped fuel the second half of the New England Patriots dynasty, again having a huge impact on the grandest stage.

"I don't see why I wouldn't be back," Gronkowski said of returning to the Bucs after winning his fourth Super Bowl.

"I did have a ball this year. It was just a great atmosphere and I loved being here. It was just an amazing year to be here with so many great players.

"There was no one that was selfish this year, and that's what made this team special and that's why we got this far. That's why we're champions; we worked together as a team.

"I retired from being retired, which is pretty cool. Coming down here to this journey, I saw that it was a great opportunity. I love Florida. A great opportunity to be in great weather, go to work in T-shirts and sandals — that's my style."

Gronkowski clearly adapted excellently to Florida, and he once again proved his ability to adjust to different roles in his first season with Tampa Bay.

He was targeted just 77 times in the regular season - the lowest amount in a campaign in which he played at least 14 games since his rookie year in 2010 - with the Bucs seemingly relying on him more as a blocking tight end.

But he became an integral part of the passing game in the playoffs.

He and David Njoku of the Cleveland Browns were the only tight ends to have two plays of 25 yards or more in the postseason.

Seventy-five percent of Gronkowski's eight receptions went for a first down, the most of any tight end in the playoffs, while his 13.8 yards per reception average was the best of any tight end to have played multiple postseason games this year.

"What a journey it’s been, what a story it has been," Gronkowski added. "What a start and what a finish. It was the real deal."

Gronkowski may not be used to the same extent he was during his Patriots heyday, but he emphatically proved that he can still be a big-play threat in the passing game when needed. As long as he can serve that purpose and add value as a blocker, there is no reason for him not to continue the journey.

Tom Brady made more history, the most successful player in NFL history claiming a seventh Super Bowl crown after sensationally leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV.

In a blockbuster showdown pitting 43-year-old great Brady against reigning Super Bowl MVP Mahomes – the face of NFL's new generation – it was the veteran quarterback who came out on top in a masterclass on Sunday.

Brady – already the record-holder with six previous Super Bowl victories – threw three touchdown passes, including two to trusted team-mate Rob Gronkowski, after completing 21 of 29 throws for 201 yards and no interceptions as the Buccaneers claimed their first Lombardi Trophy since the 2002 campaign.

With the memorable victory in his first season with the Buccaneers, Brady joined MLB first baseman Johnny Mize (1950s New York Yankees) and NHL goaltender Johnny Bower (1960s Toronto Maple Leafs) as the only players to win four championships aged 37 or older. 

Brady also followed in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history to win Super Bowls with two different teams.

It was a night to forget for Mahomes and the Chiefs after the Kansas City signal-caller finished 26-of-49 passing for 270 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and three sacks, Tampa Bay's defense stifling Andy Reid's men.

There were plenty of storylines in Tampa – Brady featuring in his fifth Super Bowl since turning 37, tying the most appearances in a championship game/series by any player in any major North American sport, alongside NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and MLB great Roger Clemens, while he is only one of three athletes in North American sport to make three championship appearances aged 40 or older.

Led by Mahomes, the Chiefs were looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since Brady and the New England Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Sarah Thomas also made history as the NFL's first female Super Bowl official at Raymond James Stadium, where the Buccaneers became the first home team to stage a showpiece and Brady overcame an early sack in the first quarter.

Mahomes came close to throwing a touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill, instead a field goal getting the Chiefs on the board before Brady and the Buccaneers took control.

Brady led an impressive eight-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a TD pass to a familiar face – Gronkowski – with 37 seconds remaining in the opening quarter as the pair surpassed Joe Montana and Jerry Rice (12) for the most touchdowns by any quarterback-receiver combo in postseason history with their 13th.

It also marked the first time in 10 Super Bowl appearances that Brady's team scored a touchdown in the opening period.

Brady and the Buccaneers – leading 7-3 after one quarter – were purring against a defensively poor Chiefs – the veteran QB thought he had another touchdown pass, but a desperate Anthony Hitchens made a TD-saving play on Joe Haeg in the endzone early in the second period.

Kansas City's defense came up big to thwart the red-hot Buccaneers, stopping Tampa Bay just short of the endzone on fourth down, but Mahomes lacked support offensively as Travis Kelce also dropped a catch.

As the penalties piled up for the Chiefs, the Buccaneers capitalised – Brady delivering a laser pass to Gronkowski in the endzone before Antonio Brown benefited from another throw to extend Tampa Bay's lead to 21-6 on the stroke of half-time.

Shell-shocked, the Chiefs needed a response in the second half but they did not get it to begin the third quarter after they were exposed defensively again – Leonard Fournette's defensive-splitting 27-yard run making it 28-9 in favour of the hosts.

After four successful extra-point conversions, Ryan Succop nailed a 52-yard field goal to move the Buccaneers further clear late in the third quarter as Mahomes' Chiefs tried unsuccessfully to rally to victory.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski broke an NFL postseason record to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Brady's eight-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday saw the duo make history.

They surpassed Joe Montana and Jerry Rice (12) for the most TDs by any quarterback-receiver combo in postseason history with their 13th.

It also marked the first time in 10 Super Bowl appearances that Brady's team have scored a TD in the first quarter.

The Buccaneers held a 7-3 lead after the opening quarter.

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.