Now that Tom Brady has officially retired from the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been provided with some offseason clarity.
Brady’s decision loomed large over what path the Bucs would go down as the team tries to repair the damage caused by last season’s implosion. Tampa Bay was already looking at a dire salary cap situation, and Brady was the linchpin to a number of different roster decisions that need to be made.
The Bucs are roughly $50 million over the cap heading into an offseason where the team will need to find a new quarterback, decide which veterans to let go, and how to fill positional needs with little cash and almost zero reputational credibility.
It’s a pretty bleak situation on the surface, there’s no way of sugarcoating it. There’s still time to figure everything out, though, so let’s dive into some knee-jerk reactions about what happens next now that the Bucs are officially entering a Post-Brady era.
Tampa Bay has a lot to sort out but the first key areas are:
- Does the team enter a rebuild or try to compete?
- What’s the situation at quarterback?
- What happens to the coaching staff?
Do the Buccaneers blow it up or run it back?
With Brady’s decision final, the next decision this offseason hinges on is how serious the Buccaneers are about contending next season. With the massive salary cap obstacle to get around, the Bucs are at a fork-in-the-road situation: Blow it up and rebuild, or try to run it back.
Blowing it up is probably the best option for the long term. Tampa Bay is in this financial predicament primarily because it kept deferring the bill it needed to pay for winning the Super Bowl. Running it back in 2021 meant mortgaging part of the future and that time has now arrived. A total teardown would get the Bucs clear of any salary cap tension, but would also mean trading guys like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin for draft capital. This puts the team in a position to see what it has out of its younger core pieces and might allow them to draft foundational franchise players in 2024.
It’s a smart thing for the team to do but is the type of surrender franchises never perform on main. Such a thing is also incredibly unfair to the coaching staff, who should be allowed to seek other jobs if the team isn’t serious about contending next year.
All teams are serious about contending, though, even the bad ones. The Bucs will likely attempt to strike a happy medium where the team gets under the cap, keeps its star players, and tries to make the best of what next season holds.