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Buccaneers Offseason QB Options


For the first time in 3 years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be looking for a new quarterback. That is because Tom Brady decided to retire this offseason. The Buccaneers have the worst cap situation in the league, being $55M in the red. Additionally, Ryan Canales was hired as the new Offensive Coordinator of the Buccaneers and comes from Seattle where he served as the QB Coach. 

The biggest challenge in forecasting these moves is how will Canales mesh with the old regime. Will he want to bring in new guys that better fit his offense? Or will he be comfortable with Tampa’s familiar faces?

Let’s explore some options:

Low-cost QB Options:

Kyle Trask: The only QB who is under contract for the Buccaneers. He was drafted by the current regime of Jason Licht, Bruce Arians, and Todd Bowles 2 years ago. With that said, does Kyle fit the offense that Canales would like to run in Tampa? Another factor to consider is how he has developed these past two years. Tampa’s actions will be very telling of what they think of Trask’ development. This past year indicated that he was Number 3 on the Depth Chart behind Brady and Gabbert. So if he’s going to be the starter next year, he has some work to do. But don’t rule it out. 

Blaine Gabbert: Blaine has been with Tampa Bay as a back up since 2019 but will now be a free agent this March. To me, this is an interesting dynamic because surely Bowles would welcome him back to the fold. However, how does Canales feel about him? Does he see Blaine as someone who can run his offense? Or will he look to free agency for more QB depth? Resigning Gabbert would likely result in a quarterback competition with Trask in Training Camp to be the Week One starter.

Drew Lock: an insurance policy perhaps if Gabbert isn’t resigned. Lock has a big arm, but has been prone to inaccuracy and turnovers. Drew worked with Canales last season in Seattle and I could see him campaigning to bring him in if he felt Lock was starting caliber. It would also make sense to bring him in as an experienced backup to help teach the offense to the other quarterbacks on the roster.  

Mid-Level Talents:

Baker Mayfield: according to Rick Stroud, the Buccaneers seriously considered trading for Baker this past offseason when he was on the block with Cleveland. Baker has a big arm and the bravado that a guy like Arians covets. The problem in this scenario is Baker will come at a heavier price tag than Trask, Gabbert, or Lock. Does Tampa see the benefit of adding someone like Baker at $10-20M/year? Or is the gap between him and Lock or Gabbert small enough that they can’t justify the signing. Additionally, he’ll want to be guaranteed a starting job and doesn’t have the personality to be a backup. So if you sign him Tampa, you better have the conviction to make him the starter. 

Geno Smith: could they make this happen? Smith is a free agent and he has history with not only Ryan Canales, but Todd Bowles as well (when Bowles coached the Jets). Geno had a breakout year after being a career backup and could look to stay with Canales. The problem I see with this scenario is that Geno is in the $30-40M Salary range per year. It’ll be a significant task to get under budget and sign him to a deal like this. 

Rookie(s): If the Bucs aren’t happy with any of the above options, they could look to the 2023 NFL draft. I doubt they’ll take a QB in the First Round considering the top 3-4 QBs will be off the board by the time they pick at 19. They’ll have to move up to get the QB they love, trading away other assets along the way, losing the ability to plug other holes on the team. Otherwise, the Bucs could invest a late round pick in a QB, minimizing risk and potentially adding to the quarterback competition. 


Lamar Jackson: This’ll be by far the heaviest price tag. Lamar is looking for guaranteed money from Baltimore but are far apart on contract talks. Jackson wants to go to Miami, but Tampa might be a nice consolation if Baltimore refuses to trade within conference. 

In order for this to work, Tampa would have to be willing to part with at least 2 first round picks. Additionally, they’d have to give Lamar the contract he covets – the Deshaun Watson deal (5-years, $230M guaranteed).  While this off-season doesn’t set up for the Bucs to take a swing like this, they can make it work by adopting the structure of the Watson contract. Small base salary in year 1 and push the major cap hits to years 2-5. That’s the only way it could work for the Bucs.

Why would Tampa go for this? The primary reason I see is that they don’t want to get shuffled to the back of the deck now that Brady’s gone. So they make a splash that’ll keep them in the driver’s seat of the NFC South. Lamar would certainly keep them more relevant than any other quarterback on this list. 

Tom Brady Unretires: Would this really surprise anybody? While this writer firmly believes that Brady’s ability has significantly declined over the past year, it wouldn’t shock me if he decided to return. Can anyone predict how Brady will feel in June? Or July? The issue with Brady unretiring is that he’s a free agent this offseason. That means that if he unretires, he’s not automatically on the Tampa Bay roster. Will the Bucs welcome him back? These are all just hypothetical questions. And while I strongly believe (70/30) that he is “done” done, we cannot rule out this possibility. 

My Early Off-season Prediction:

The way this off-season is shaping up, I expect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will go low budget with the quarterback position. I believe Blaine Gabbert will be re-signed and compete with Trask for the starting position. That is who the coaching staff is familiar with and they will convince Canales that this is the right route to go. Being $55M over the cap and with Brady eating $35M of that cap, they simply cannot afford to spend $30M+ this year on a QB. That eliminates guys like Garoppolo, Geno, Daniel Jones, and Rodgers. It’s more likely that they pick up a QB or two in the later rounds of the Draft and go into camp with Trask, Gabbert, and the rookie(s) competing.

Many will look at this strategy as a way for Tampa to tank for 2024. But the media said the same thing about the Seattle Seahawks last year. Looking at the team, they still have a lot of talent and will not have the cloud of Brady hanging over their heads. I have a sneaky suspicion that Gabbert (much like Geno Smith) is waiting to burst onto the scene next season and surprise a lot of people. And if not, then you have a chance of getting Drake May or Caleb Williams in 2024.

My 2023 Projected Starting Quarterback: Blaine Gabbert

For more of my articles on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, click the links below:

Tampa Bay Offensive Report Card

Tampa Bay Defensive Report Card

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