That message is flying around Tampa right now: Tom Brady is the piece that will get the Bucs back in the hunt.
"It's very exciting, man. Very exciting," linebacker Lavonte David told Sirius XM NFL Radio, via Pro Football Talk. "We've always been on the brink of getting there and having a couple mistakes here and there that get us from not being in the playoffs or being able to compete in the Super Bowl. We can have a guy who can erase all that, come in and erase all that and know what it takes to get there. Having him at the helm and being a leader, one of the leaders of our football team, hopefully he can put us over that hump and get us there, find a way to get us to the big dance that we all want."
In eight NFL seasons, David has never been to the postseason and has finished with a winning record once. The last time the Bucs made the playoffs was in 2007, under then-coach Jon Gruden. Since that time, they've been a meandering operation floating blindly in dark waters.
David's own acclaim has been hindered by the lack of relevancy in Tampa. Put the sideline-to-sideline wrecking ball in a competitive situation in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, New England, Green Bay, Chicago, etc., and the world would drool at the talent of the linebacker who laughably has been named to only one Pro Bowl.
With Brady heading to Tampa, a massive spotlight and more prime-time affairs come along. David and others will finally play in the limelight they deserve.
After years of coming up short as the hyped offseason squad, players believe they finally have the quarterback in Brady who can be the difference-maker who gets them back into the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
The opposite side of saying Brady is the needed piece to the Tampa to the postseason comes with the tacit admission that turnover-prone Jameis Winston wasn't the guy. Winston remains a locker room favorite, but bringing in the G.O.A.T. makes the transition easier.
"I've got tremendous amounts of respect for Jameis," David said. "The athlete that he is, the person that I've seen him become. We've got a personal, private relationship that I cherish and I consider him as a friend of mine so, you know, just seeing him go is tough but I guess that's just a part of the business and stuff that you've got to handle. Now we've got to move on and put that thing behind us and go ahead and embrace Tom Brady with open arms, man. Obviously, we're excited to have him. I'm excited to have him in the locker room bringing that winning pedigree, that winning attitude to the locker room because, as you all know, we definitely need it."