Now that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are officially living in a post-Tom Brady world, the team is getting reminded of what the rest of the league really thinks of them.
Ever since Brady’s retirement back in February, the Bucs season has been declared over before it’s even had a chance to really begin. Whether it was experts predicting a trade up for Will Levis (how’d that work out for everyone) or pundits openly expecting the Bucs to tank for a top draft pick, Tampa Bay has once again regressed to being an afterthought in the larger conversation.
The addition of Baker Mayfield in March was the cherry on top of the Sundae for anyone looking for an excuse to make fun of Tampa Bay. The move was dunked on, everyone had the same lame joke about the optics of going from Brady to Baker, and the team was once again buried.
Peter King named the Bucs the second-worst team in the league after the NFL Draft, failing to devote more than a scribble about them in his power rankings. That’s a theme that seems consistent throughout the national media, but not everyone is grabbing at low hanging fruit when looking at the Bucs and their chances this upcoming season.
Former NFL QB thinks Baker Mayfield could lead Bucs to playoffs
While appearing on Good Morning Football, former quarterback Ryan Leaf sang praise for Mayfield and the Bucs. If that feels like you have to double take it’s likely because Leaf is breaking with what seems to be the national narrative of negativity to say something positive.
Leaf was talking with former Buccaneers star Gerald McCoy and noted that he thinks Baker Mayfield will not only be the starter in Tampa Bay but could take the team back to the playoffs.
“I like him to be the starter in Tampa Bay,” Lead said. “I think he can do a good enough job to make them a possible playoff contender in that division.”
A main source of motivation that Leaf points out is one that seems to be slowly building with each passing day. Mayfield and the Bucs both share adversity, as both are already being written off by the rest of the league as nothing more than a footnote for the upcoming season.
“I love how he’s overcome the adversity,” Leaf said of Mayfield. “How the Cleveland Browns and that city, that team treated him and kinda just threw him out, and how he’s battled back — I really like how he’s taken care of himself and handled his business.”
Adversity is a word hanging over the Bucs OTAs like the ‘Believe’ sign in Ted Lasso.
There has been more talk about Caleb Williams in Tampa Bay — a quarterback who does not play for the Bucs — than the quarterbacks who are on the roster. Each new grainy video from OTA that gets dunked on by folks on Twitter only adds to the chip on everyone’s shoulder, and further proves that the Bucs are
While it’s annoying, it’s also completely fair to doubt the Bucs will be a good team this year. Even with Brady last year the Bucs barely managed to make the playoffs and did so with a losing record. It’s not hard to connect the dots to suggest they’ll be even worse without Brady, but the team still has talent across the board.
Tampa Bay might not have Brady, but the roster still boasts stars like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Vita Vea, Antoine Winfield Jr., Lavonte David, Jamel Dean, and Tristan Wirfs. All of those are players every other team in th league would jump at the chance to add, and all of them are on the same team.
It might end up that this is a lost season for the Bucs and the team resets next offseason. The idea that they won’t be playoff contenders just because of some missed throws in OTAs is foolish, as is the idea of burying them before they get a chance to prove themselves one way or the other.