The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are stealing from their NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons to get another weapon for Tom Brady. The Buccaneers have agreed to terms with Falcons receiver Russell Gage.
“Source: Former Falcons WR Russell Gage is expected to sign with the Bucs,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted on March 15. “More weapons for Tom Brady.”
The Buccaneers have been in the market for a third receiver since the team’s in-season breakup with Antonio Brown. Gage posted 66 receptions for 770 yards and four touchdowns in 2021 in his 14 appearances, including nine starts. The young receiver played an especially important role in the Falcons offense after Calvin Ridley stepped away from the team.
Gage is signing a three-year, $30 million contract with the Bucs, per WSB Atlanta’s Zach Klein.
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Gage Saw Increased Opportunities Without Jones & Ridley
Heading into last season, Gage noted that he believed his career was just getting started. Gage was able to take advantage of his increased opportunities with the Falcons trading Julio Jones and Ridley being sidelined for the majority of 2021.
“Something that really boosts my confidence is understanding what I could become,” Gage told AtlantaFalcons.com in June 2021. “Understanding the sky is the limit for me. I know I have so much more to do, so much more I can do, and so much more to prove. I think that for me really motivates me, gives me confidence, and pushes me to keep raising the bar.”
Gage Is the New Favorite to be the Bucs WR3 Next to Godwin & Evans
Gage is familiar with playing with other weapons as the wideout began his career alongside Jones and Ridley. Now, the Bucs will pair Gage with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin once he returns to the field. The return of Brady is good news for the Buccaneers, but it also puts the pressure on the Bucs to once again get creative with the salary cap.
“The next steps are going to be challenging for the Bucs,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer detailed on March 14. “Getting Ryan Jensen signed on a three-year, $39 million deal (that happened around midnight ET) is a good start. But they still have a lot of free agents. They’re right at the cap. They already restructured Vita Vea, and have the option to do similar things with contracts for Shaq Barrett, Mike Evans, Donovan Smith and Lavonte David.
“So they can generate some wiggle room. But will it be enough to bring back Rob Gronkowski, Jason Pierre-Paul, Alex Cappa, Leonard Fournette, Carlton Davis and, well, you get the idea. There are a lot of mouths to feed here.”
The Bucs Believe Brady Increases Their Chances to Re-Sign Key Players
Gage will likely represent one of the few new additions for the Bucs this offseason. The Buccaneers are expected to spend the majority of free agency attempting to re-sign their own players. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians admitted that Brady’s return increases their chances to retain key players.
“When asked if Brady’s return will affect the Bucs ability to retain their own free agents, coach Bruce Arians told me ‘Oh, yeah, guys love playing with him,’” Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud tweeted on March 13.