Tom Brady signs contract extension with Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. (Matt Ludtke/AP)

TAMPA, Fla. _ Tom Brady has agreed to a contract extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that provides the Super Bowl champions with much-needed salary cap relief and will help the seven-time NFL champion reach a goal of playing until he's at least 45.

Brady posted a picture of himself on Twitter, signing the extension Friday with the message: ``In pursuit of 8 ... LFG? Buccaneers we're keeping the band together.''

The extension confirmed by the team frees about $19 million in salary cap space, a move that improves Tampa Bay's chances of returning as much of its championship roster as possible for 2021.

Seven starters from the Super Bowl were among two dozen Buccaneers eligible to become free agents next week.

``When we acquired Tom a year ago, we were extremely excited about the leadership, poise and winning track record that he would bring to our locker room. Since that time, he has proven himself to be the ultimate competitor and delivered in every way we had imagined, helping us capture the Lombardi Trophy,'' general manager Jason Licht said.

``Year after year,'' the GM added, ``Tom proves that he remains one of the elite quarterbacks in this game and we couldn't be happier to keep him in Tampa Bay as we continue to pursue our goals together.''

Brady's extension adds an extra season on the two-year, $50 million contract he signed in free agency last March following a 20-year run with the New England Patriots.

The five-time Super Bowl MVP capped his first season with the Bucs by leading Tampa Bay to its first championship in 18 years.

In preparation for the start of free agency next week, Licht placed the franchise tag on receiver Chris Godwin and signed linebacker Lavonte David to a two-year, $25 million contract that was announced Friday.

David's contract, of which $20 million is guaranteed, includes voidable years that make it salary cap friendly.

Brady's extension also includes voidable years to provide cap relief this winter.

``Tom is one of those great guys who understands that it takes a whole village to win. It takes a team, a group of guys, to win football games,'' David said.

``Me, the same thing. I'm all about team,'' the linebacker, who's played his entire nine-year career with the Bucs, added. ``I'm doing what I can and doing what it takes to hopefully get everybody back and go do this thing again.''

Tampa Bay was estimated to be more than $7 million over the salary cap before the 43-year-old Brady, who has said he wants to play until he's at least 45, extended his contract.

With the quarterback's help, the Bucs can now turn their attention to trying to reach a long-term deal with linebacker Shaquil Barrett, the 2019 NFL sack leader who earned $15.8 million last season while playing under the franchise tag.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Antonio Brown, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, running back Leonard Fournette and kicker Ryan Succop among the other free agents Licht and coach Bruce Arians hope to retain.

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