The Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay is coming to an end sooner rather than later. Brady signed a one-year contract this past offseason to continue playing with the Buccaneers after retiring, then unretiring. At this point, it does not seem like the Bucs have a contingency plan for who their starting quarterback will be once Brady decides that he wants to play for another team to finish off his career or ultimately retire for good.
When looking at the landscape of quarterbacks who could be available in free agency after the season, a plan to land an experienced veteran quarterback will be hard to come by. Lamar Jackson will be at the forefront of this FA class but is fully expected to re-sign with the Baltimore Ravens. After Lamar, the crop begins to thin out with Baker Mayfield and Geno Smith potentially being the bigger veteran names out there. When it comes to Geno Smith, it appears that Seattle wants to re-sign the signal caller after he has resurrected his career under Pete Carroll's tutelage. Mayfield finds himself in an odd situation in Carolina as the Panthers also have Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, and rookie Matt Corral on their roster heading into next year. It looks likely that Baker will end up elsewhere, but he doesn't seem to fit the mold of what the Bucs should be looking for post-Brady.
Even with Tom Brady shooting down retirement rumors stating that he is not leaving the game anytime soon, it does not dampen the idea that he could possibly find another team more attractive to make a push for his eighth Super Bowl ring. An interesting move, no matter what Brady decides to do, was brought up by ESPN NFL analyst Matt Miller where the Bucs could replace Brady with one of his former backups.
It would be wild indeed. This past offseason, it appeared the 49ers were looking to trade Jimmy G and move forward full-time with Trey Lance. After Lance suffered a season-ending knee injury, Garoppolo was thrust back into action. He has since done a decent job since moving back into the starter role and could be that for the Buccaneers should Brady decide to move on. The intriguing aspect of this scenario would be that the 49ers seemed to be a team built well enough roster-wise for Tom Brady to at least give the time of day to pitch him on playing in San Francisco. Jimmy G seems like he would be the best option out of the free agent market once Lamar Jackson re-signs with Baltimore, but it all will hinge on what Brady's plans are following the 2022-23 NFL season.
Of course, this isn't the only interesting move that has been put out about the Buccaneers and what they plan to do post Tom Brady.
Outside of free agency, the Buccaneers could look towards a trade that would acquire their future quarterback. Per Pro Football Focus' Doug Kyed, the Los Vegas Raiders could explore the possibility of trading their current quarterback Derek Carr.
“If head coach Josh McDaniels is retained for the 2023 season despite Las Vegas’ early-season struggles — which is the current expectation — it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone fall on the sword. And there has been speculation around the NFL that it could be Carr via a trade.
“…The Raiders would be wise to find a trade partner before the Super Bowl so as to ensure they wouldn’t be stuck with his $32.9 million salary in 2023.”
So far this season, the Raiders have struggled with Josh McDaniels as their head coach - only mustering up an abysmal 2-7 record through nine games and sit at the bottom of the AFC West. Even with the Raiders' struggles as a whole, Derek Carr has played admirable throwing for 2,128 yards and 13 touchdowns to just five interceptions, while completing over 62% of his passes thrown.
The trade for Carr would have to come before the Super Bowl so that his recent contract and salary won't become fully guaranteed come the 2023 NFL season. As for the Bucs, it is hard to imagine them making this move unless the trade does happen before then due to their salary cap situation in the future. They are already expected to be well over the cap in 2023 and bringing in another fully guaranteed contract will only make things worse unless they are able to restructure other players' contracts. It is still a feasible move, however, and they could get Carr at a discount if the move is made sooner rather than later.
“The source predicted Carr could garner a second-round pick plus. It will be interesting to see if teams are as willing to trade for veteran quarterbacks this offseason given the lack of success those acquired via trade — such as Wentz, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield — have had this season.”
It will be interesting to see if the Bucs make a move during the season, and although it is unlikely there could always be a deal made. It appears that if Tampa Bay does anything, they will wait till the end of the season and reexamine where Brady is and then determine their next steps moving forward. As the back half of the season gets into full swing, expect the rumor mill to continue heating up.
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