What happens at quarterback for Buccaneers?
The first step is the most complicated — and most important — as the Bucs must figure out what to do at quarterback.
There was an outside chance Brady returned for a fourth season in Tampa Bay but with that option off the table, the Bucs have a few different routes they can go. One thing that seems clear is that the team doesn’t have its quarterback of the future on the roster right now. There was no succession plan set in place for when Brady retired and that bill has come due in a pretty significant way.
Option 1: Bring back Blaine Gabbert
For all three of Brady’s seasons in Tampa Bay, Blaine Gabbert was his partner in crime. The former first-round pick backed Brady up and was his sounding board in the quarterback room, and the Bucs could turn to him to lead the team next season.
It’s certainly the least sexy of the options and doesn’t help make Tampa Bay into Super Bowl contender, but it’s perhaps the easiest transition away from Brady. Gabbert knows the offense, has continuity with guys like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin,
Option 2: Start Kyle Trask and see what he’s got
This is somewhere in that happy medium of making the most of a bad situation and trying to be competitive. Trask has barely played at all since being drafted, but the Bucs used a second-round pick on him for a reason. He was sort of the succession plan for when Brady retired, but it’s unclear what Tampa Bay has in him and whether he has to the tools worth investing in over potentially looking at future draft classes.
Stating Trask in 2023 and giving him a full season of work is the best way to see what he has to offer. He doesn’t need to be Brock Purdy, but the Bucs need to see if he is a legitimate option to be a franchise quarterback. There’s only one way to find out.
Option 3: Draft a quarterback this spring
This is sort of a two-part option, as the Bucs drafting a quarterback seems like a certainty. What isn’t known is when the team will decide to take a swing on the next attempt to find a franchise quarterback.
Jason Licht’s first swing was Jameis Winston, which didn’t work out. Brady fell into his lap and produced a Super Bowl victory. Might the third time be even more of a charm?
Logic would suggest the Bucs wait until 2024 to find a quarterback. This year’s class is extremely top-heavy and laden with potential duds. It’s widely assumed that the Bucs will be one of the worst teams in the league next season, which puts them in the conversation to draft USC’s Caleb Williams in next year’s draft. That’s the most ideal situation fans can hope for — which also highlights how bleak things are if tanking is the most exciting thing the team can do.
Option 4: Acquire a veteran quarterback
Derek Carr and Jimmy Garropolo are two names that have been kicked around NFL Rumors circles as of late, and both could be fits for the Bucs. If Tampa Bay isn’t ready to rebuild, going after a veteran on the market is what the team will have to do in order to remain competitive.
Money is an issue for the Buccaneers, though, which likely takes this option off the board. Tampa Bay already needs to make some serious decisions to get back under the cap and that’s before salary is added back. Signing Carr or Garoppolo would mean needing to retain key pieces of the roster that might otherwise be cap casualties, which doesn’t fix the problem.
Both quarterbacks will likely want big money free agent deals, something the Bucs might not be able to afford. Going after Carr or Garoppolo is a commitment to the future, not a one-for-one Brady replacement to go chasing another Super Bowl in the short term.