With the expected start of training camp approaching, we’re going to dive into the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers position by position. Today, we’ll start with the quarterbacks.
The Buccaneers have made quite the splash this offseason, with a number of attention-grabbing transactions dominating the conversation league-wide. Some change has come with those transactions, and there’s no position group that has been impacted more than the quarterbacks. But before we can take a look at Tampa Bay’s current QB situation, we have to take a look back at 2019 to understand how we got here.
In 2019, Jameis Winston had a very strange season. Playing on his fifth-year option, he was looking to become the first Bucs quarterback ever to earn a second contract. Drafted No. 1 overall in 2015, his road to that fifth-year option was rocky enough. There were plenty of great moments, but there were also plenty of turnovers and a suspension mixed in. But 2019 was another level of rocky. Leading the NFL’s No. 1 passing offense, Winston became the eighth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards, plus he broke the Bucs’ single-season passing touchdown record with 33. However, he also threw 30 interceptions and set a new league record for pick sixes with seven.
Ultimately, he didn’t do enough for Jason Licht, Bruce Arians and the rest of Tampa Bay’s decision-makers to award him a new contract. That led to a big move in free agency, with the team signing six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who decided to leave New England after spending the first 20 years of his career there. That signing was part of an odd four-team quarterback carousel that was just completed: Brady from New England to Tampa Bay, Winston from Tampa Bay to New Orleans, Teddy Bridgewater from New Orleans to Carolina, and Cam Newton from Carolina to New England.
Meet The Group
Brady is joining a quarterback room that looks a lot like it did in 2019, with the exception of the starter of course. Blaine Gabbert, who lost his first season in Tampa due to a preseason injury, is back. Ryan Griffin is also back, which means we could have another backup quarterback competition this summer. Gabbert is a favorite of Bruce Arians’, largely due to his experience with the offense, but Griffin now has a season with the system under his belt as well. It’ll be interesting to see who the No. 2 is behind Brady.
It was a surprise to some that Tampa Bay didn’t draft a guy to learn under Brady and potentially take over for him once his two years in town are up. Undrafted free agent Reid Sinnett, out of San Diego, is a newcomer who will look to assume that role, but with Gabbert and Griffin in front of him, he may be a longshot to make the roster. What lies ahead after Brady is anyone’s guess. Some have floated the idea of trading for 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen, but that’s all speculation. With the Bucs going all in, perhaps we’ll have to wait until next offseason to get an idea of who the quarterback of the future is in Tampa.
Well, as weird as it still seems, Tom Brady is the new guy in town. After 20 historic seasons with the Patriots, he’s starting a new chapter of his career. He’s won six Super Bowls, four Super Bowl MVPs, three league MVPs and has been selected to 14 Pro Bowls. His legacy is no secret, as he is already widely considered as the greatest quarterback of all time. But after all of his success in New England, he’s looking to build his legacy even further by reviving a Buccaneers team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007 and hasn’t won a playoff game since winning Super Bowl 37 back in January of 2003.
Reid Sinnett is also new, signing with Tampa Bay out of the University of San Diego. Right now, he looks like a camp arm, but who knows? Maybe he unseats one of the two guys ahead of him and sticks around to learn from the GOAT.
Biggest Question: What will Brady’s final chapter look like?
We’ve talked about Brady’s legacy in New England. All of that has been written and cemented. But the big question heading into 2020 is centered on what his time in Tampa Bay will look like. Of course, he signed a two-year deal back in March, so his 2020 season shouldn’t be the whole picture. But what he is able to do without Bill Belichick remains to be seen. There’s long been a debate about who is more responsible for the Patriots’ dynasty. What happens over these next two years won’t decide it—let’s make that clear. But it’s still going to be a talking point, isn’t it? So, the soon-to-be 43-year-old needs to take advantage of the talent that this Bucs offense has. Some are even saying he makes this team a Super Bowl contender. But at the least, he needs to get to the playoffs with Tampa Bay. Because if you’re going all in the way the Bucs are, missing the playoffs has to be considered a gigantic failure.
Brady’s overall legacy can’t be broken by anything that happens in Tampa. He’s already the GOAT. But his Bucs legacy? What will that look like? He certainly has his sights on another Lombardi Trophy. Is that in Tampa Bay’s future, or is that too lofty of an expectation for a team that has finished above .500 just twice since Jon Gruden was fired after the 2008 season? We’ll just have to wait and find out.