With the Super Bowl less than a week away, the other 30 NFL Teams are moving on to offseason-mode. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that means preparing for life in a post-Tom Brady world.
It’s hard to overstate just how influential Brady was to this team. An underachieving 7-9 squad the year before he arrived, there was an obvious lack of control at the quarterback position. Jameis Winston led the league in turnovers since he was drafted up to that point, and his miscues on offense bled over into pressure constantly being put on the defense through short fields and opponents time of possession.
Brady changed that immediately. The offense stayed on schedule with minimal mistakes when he was out there, and with his ability to put up points the defense was able to pin their ears back and perfect Todd Bowles’ blitz happy scheme.
Since Tom Brady announced his retirement though, it’s a much different situation for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only two quarterbacks currently on the Bucs roster are Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask. There are reports that the Bucs could make another move in free agency for a high profile QB, but the price of doing so would be costly. Still, Sidelines.io has Tampa at +165 to win the NFC next year- right under San Francisco at +150, and just above the current Super Bowl bound Rams at +260. So the window for Tampa is still open. Let’s look at their options.
Gabbert is a former first round pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars who has bounced around the league for the last decade. He’s a big QB with a big arm and average mobility. He has all the physical tools but his downfall has been decision-making throughout his career. The benefit here is that he’s going into his 4th season under head coach Bruce Arians, having spent a year under him as a brief starter in Arizona. Out of all the players we’ll talk about, Gabbert has the most experience and the best understanding of Arians’ offense, which opens the door for the Bucs to possibly give him a one year deal and see what happens if they can’t land a big name in free agency.
Trask is a second round pick by the Bucs in last year’s draft. Another big, tall QB with a good arm, Trask had good production his final year at Florida but the jury is still out on whether he could even be a starter in the NFL. He didn’t do much to belay those concerns in his limited preseason action, and while the coaching staff speaks highly of him, trying to cash in a Super Bowl window with Kyle Trask at the helm has to be the worst-case scenario for the Bucs front office.
Rodgers needs no introduction. He’s got a Super Bowl win, and MVP title, and is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. The problems here though, are many. First, in a weak NFC, the Packers present Rodgers best chance to win another Super Bowl, if that’s his goal. The Bucs will be losing some talent this offseason of their own, and for that reason don’t present the same attractive roster as they did when luring Brady to town. Secondly, the Packers may not even entertain dealing Rodgers to a team they’d realistically have to meet in the playoffs. Thirdly, the cost of such a trade would certainly force the Bucs to leverage their future on Aaron Rodgers winning them a Super Bowl next year. Not the year after that, not two years down the road. Now. For all those reasons, I don’t find this move very likely.
Wilson is a superstar in his own right, and with two Super Bowl appearances has the resume to back that up. But basically all of the same rules that applied to Rodgers, apply to Wilson here, but with less of a Championship win guarantee. The Seahawks won’t want to send him to a conference foe, the teams are not all that different in talent level, and the asking price would be substantial. Next.
Out of all the names floated, this one makes the least sense to me. Garoppolo has one of the worst deep balls in the league, and the deep ball is the staple of Arians’ offense. The 49ers have clearly won in spite of Jimmy, not because of him for the last year and a half. This is the least likely to me.
Carr is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. Smart and talented, Carr has won games despite a lack of talent on one of the worst-run teams in the league. He’s got a beautiful deep ball and has the football IQ to run Arians option-route heavy offense. The Raiders could look to move on from him now that Josh McDaniels was recently hired, and I’d say there’s a fair chance that Carr could end up in Tampa. The downside here is whether that would actually make them a Super Bowl contender or not.
So the Buccaneers clearly have their work cut out for them this offseason. Moving on from the Greatest Of All Time is certainly no easy task, and the Bucs have a multitude of different options available to them, based on what they think the next two years of the franchise should look like. All indications are we’ll get a clear look at that picture by the end of free agency.