There is wild speculation as to who will replace Tom Brady as the starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it’s time expectations are tempered just a little bit for Buccaneers fans.
As you may have heard, Tom Brady has decided to retire from the sport of football. Thus ends arguably the greatest sporting career we’ve ever seen, and the greatest career for a quarterback Bucs fans have ever seen and able to call their own. Now that Brady is gone, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back to their norm of crippling uncertainty at the quarterback position.
At the very least, this is something that Bucs fans are used to. The team has had quite an intriguing or even unique history when it comes to the quarterback position. In their two Super Bowl championships in their franchise history, Brady was the quarterback for one, the undisputed GOAT of GOATs, and the other was one with Brad Johnson under center. Talk about running spectrum. Even in their most successful periods, other than the aforementioned Super Bowl title runs, the quarterback position had left much to be desired. Doug Williams, Shaun King, Trent Dilfer, and Chris Simms have all started playoff games for the Bucs, not exactly a Mount Rushmore.
The Buccaneers as a franchise have been almost cursed when it comes to the quarterback position. It’s not that they’ve picked the wrong ones to choose per se, it’s just that they have always been a team with many holes to fill other than the most important position. They have always been a franchise always looking for that one player to fix everything, and turn the ship around when in reality it takes a whole crew.
This brings us to the present. Teams that don’t prepare for the future are doomed to fail for a long time. Just look at the Buccaneers for decades. Currently, the roster consists of former second-round pick Kyle Trask and veteran Blaine Gabbert who is set to be a free agent. Bruce Arians has expressed the team’s interest in “opening door number two“ for their future quarterback though which is where things get interesting.
This appears to be the one offseason where there are a plethora of passers, both young and old, that are reportedly available. Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson look like the top cash cows in the offseason farm. Heck, there are even some clamoring for a Jameis Winston reunion in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers were able to acquire one proven passer, why can’t they do it again? Naturally, it has Bucs fans in a frenzy.
However, it’s time to bring things back to reality regarding the next Buccaneers quarterback.
The Bucs put all their chips on the table to capitalize on the Brady window and attempt to “go for two” as Super Bowl champions, if not more. That being the case, Jason Licht and the rest of the front office had to use the approach of “kicking the can down the road“ when it comes to the salary cap. Now, the chickens have come home to roost and it’s not looking like the Buccaneers will be able to retain everyone again. The team currently has $19.4 million in cap space, which puts them squarely in the middle of the league.
However, they also have a huge amount of veterans set to be free agents, most notably Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis, Alex Cappa, and Jordan Whitehead just to name a few. Retaining some of these key championship pieces should be their top priority. Plus, none of the potentially available quarterbacks have the history of team-friendly salary cap cooperation that Brady had, and that’s not even mentioning the fact that the odds of Watson even playing any time soon are astronomical considering all of the pending legal resolutions. If the Buccaneers were to take a swing at one of these home run quarterbacks, it will probably mean gutting a lot of their solid roster in the process.
Buccaneers fans need to temper their quarterback expectations.
Whoever the next quarterback is, he’ll more likely than not be a “bridge” or “stop-gap” option. They may bring in a veteran, but it’ll be someone in the mold of say a Jimmy Garoppolo type, who the team has reportedly expected to make a strong push for. Plus, Arians doesn’t have much left in the coaching tank, and his successor will want his own choice at quarterback when the time comes. Trask is another option, as he was able to sit and learn behind Brady while being coached by Arians and Byron Leftwich, and it wasn’t like he was taken in the second round for nothing. While these may not be the most “glamorous” options, they’re by far the most realistic.
Sure, they may not be perfect for Arians’ “no risk it, no biscuit” approach, which is essentially the old “run and shoot” (or “chuck and duck” depending on who you ask) but that has never been a successful system for winning long term, or at all. The system worked in Tampa Bay because they had the greatest player of all time playing quarterback, and it was toned down to fit him. While a Winston reunion may be more realistic than Rodgers, Wilson, or Watson, especially in Arians’ system, we’ve read that book before, and the Bucs may not want to read it again.
At the end of the day, it’s an exciting time for Bucs fans. They are about to be a new quarterback. Although many fans’ heads are in the clouds about the possibilities right now, we need to bring them back down to Earth and look at this realistically. Going with Trask/Gabbert, or bringing in a Jimmy G type is not tanking, it’s preparing for the future.