What felt inevitable has now become official has Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement on social media Tuesday morning. The news has sparked a huge topic of discussion among the Bucs and their fans alike about who the next quarterback is, so now what?
The Bucs could be in a fortunate position to be in the market for a veteran QB as there are many rumored to be potentially on the move, even if some names are more realistic than others.
The one name that comes to mind whenever people think of an elite QB possibly being dealt is Aaron Rodgers. The Packers star has been subject to trade rumors over the past year and with Green Bay’s disappointing end to their season, perhaps Rodgers could look to move on. As far as compensation, it would likely take a lot to pry Rodgers away including multiple first round picks. The Packers are not likely to want to send their QB to a team within the same conference, but crazier things have happened.
There is another star veteran QB that could be on the market and it is another big name. The Seattle Seahawks have consistently been one of the NFL’s best teams but this year, things did not go their way. They finished with a 7-10 record, were last in the NFC West and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2017. With the disappointing season, there has been a lot of chatter surrounding Russell Wilson’s future with the team. Like Rodgers, acquiring Wilson would cost a pretty penny and it is unknown whether the Seahawks would want to send him within the conference as well.
Watson is a talented, young QB who a team can build around, but until his numerous legal issues are resolved, no NFL team is likely to pay the price the Texans have set to acquire him with all of the uncertainty surrounding him and his playing status.
Here is an intriguing option for the Buccaneers. In this writer’s opinion, Carr has consistently been one of the most underrated QBs in the NFL and would be a tremendous option for Tampa Bay. Carr will not cost as much to acquire as one of the three previously listed options, but there is some questions as to whether or not he will even be made available this offseason. The Raiders have a brand new general manager and head coach in Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels, so they could look to move on from the long time Raiders QB, but it is also possible they decide to see what they have and make it work with Carr.
This may not be the most popular option among people who are going to discuss the next QB, but Cousins is perhaps one of the best realistic options Tampa Bay may have. Like the Raiders, the Vikings have a new regime in place and could look to move on from Cousins. The issue with Cousins may be his contract as it is still rather large and while he only has one year remaining on the deal, that big cap number of $35-million that the Bucs would be on the hook for may be too much for the team to invest in a QB who is not considered a top-tier guy.
This is the interesting one. Imagine Jimmy Garoppolo finally succeeding Tom Brady. Garoppolo’s season has just ended in the NFC Championship game and with that it may be time for San Francisco to move on so they can start Trey Lance. Garoppolo has been a polarizing figure his entire career. While some believe he can be a quality starter, many others believe he is nothing more than an average QB. His trade value is not that high so it would not cost a lot to acquire him, but his upside is not as high as other options.
Unlike the others previously listed, Bridgewater is a unrestricted free agent and is free to sign with any team when the new league year begins. The biggest pro here is that the Bucs would not have to give up any draft compensation to acquire him, but the con may be that Bridgewater has struggled as a starter with his stops in Carolina and Denver. Bridgewater is a safe option, but might not be one that the Bucs look to if they want to contend.
It had to be done, folks. Look, it is this writer’s opinion that this scenario is very unlikely but yet again crazier things have happened. Winston’s last pass as a Buccaneer was a pick six, then he joined the New Orleans Saints for two years, sitting behind Drew Brees for a year then earning the starting job in 2021. Winston played well in his limited time as a starter before suffering a season ending ACL injury vs. the Buccaneers in week eight. Now Winston is again a free agent and a reunion with the Bucs could be in play. Again, it remains an extremely unlikely scenario and the Bucs and Winston both have seemed to have moved on, but it is certainly possible to see Winston back in Tampa Bay.