Buccaneers had a formal meeting with top quarterback prospect at NFL Combine

Todd Bowles, NFL Draft, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL Rumors
Todd Bowles, NFL Draft, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL Rumors / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

While free agency is set to begin in a few weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't solely focusing on who they'll be re-signing and what the plans for additions will be.

Right now the NFL world is in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, scouting this year's draft class and assessing which moves might be made next month in Detroit. Tampa Bay has the No. 26 pick and a slew of different options for what to do with the pick, from helping rebuild the offensive line to taking a wide receiver to replace Mike Evans, to trading back like we've seen the team do before.

One area that everyone thought the Bucs would address last season was quarterback. Tom Brady's retirement threw the team's future into flux, but Jason Licht ended up landing the plane perfectly after signing Baker Mayfield and trusting him to help the team restore its image alongside the quarterback doing the same for himself.

That happened, with the Bucs winning the NFC South for a third straight year and not playing their final game of the season until the NFC Divisional Round. Re-signing Baker remains a top offseason priority, especially with growing competition for his services, but it hasn't stopped the Bucs from taking a peek at this year's quarterback class.

Buccaneers formally meet with J.J. McCarthy at NFL Combine

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy revealed that he had a formal meeting with the Buccaneers at the NFL Combine in Indy this week.

"It was a formal [meeting]," McCarthy said. "It was amazing. Once again great interactions, great guys. Like I said before, it would be a blessing to be able to play them."

It's easy to read into things, but also not every interaction is a team showing its cards.

The NFL Combine offers teams a chance to meet with players all over the draft board, not just ones they intend on drafting. Outside of scheduling a workout or attending a Pro Day -- both of which are bigger indications of potential interest -- this week is when teams can really start to get a feel for what the class will look like.

Meeting with McCarthy may simply be the Bucs doing their due dilligence, which would be neglectful if they didn't. Re-signing Baker is the team's top goal and how it intends to fill its quaterback need this offseason. Looking toward the future has always been part of the conversation, though, and just like how the team needed to think about life after Brady the same goes for Baker.

That being said, teams meet with prospects all the time that they don't actually end up drafting. Thinking about the future is wise, but this feels more like the Bucs scoping out players projected to be in their range at No. 26 than the team trying to make a big move at quarterback.

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