Well, the Bucs season is officially over after an ugly 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round. Now that the 2022-23 campaign is over, Tampa Bay enters the offseason with a lot more than just three questions, but let's try and narrow them down a bit.
Is Tom Brady Going to Return?
I wanted to get the obvious one out of the way first. At 45 years old, Brady could very well have played his last game not only in a Bucs uniform, but in the NFL. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent if he continues playing so that begs the question, will Brady be back in Tampa Bay? There is not much doubt that the Bucs want Brady back, but at the end of the day it is Brady’s decision. That decision will go a long way in determining the approach the team will take this offseason. If he comes back, then it’s safe to say they will continue to kick the can down the road and try to reload for one more run at a Super Bowl but if he doesn’t, then the Bucs could enter a rebuild of sorts.
Brady not returning is no slam dunk despite what a lot of national media seem to think. If people have followed many local outlets, it is clear that Brady has a strong relationship with the Bucs and really enjoys his time in Tampa. Whatever Brady decides and whenever he decides to do it will have a huge impact on what lies ahead for the Buccaneers this offseason.
Which Offensive Coordinator Could the Bucs Hire?
It is being reported by a few outlets that the Bucs are expected to fire offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after four seasons with the team. The Bucs offense was stale and lacked creativity the entire season. While they lost a lot of talent on that side of the ball in the offseason, Leftwich did not do himself any favors. So who could the Bucs hire to replace him?
If Brady is back, then current Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien makes a ton of sense as he and Brady spent many years together in New England. Hiring O’Brien could possibly help entice Brady to return. If it’s not O’Brien though, then a reunion with former Bucs OC Todd Monken could be a possibility. Monken is the current OC at Georgia and has been getting some buzz about taking an NFL job recently.
O’Brien or Monken though may choose to stay with their current jobs or go somewhere else though. If that happens, a few names I like are Lions assistant HC and RBs coach Deuce Staley, Eagles QB coach Brian Johnson or former Colts HC Frank Reich. Either way, expect a new offensive play caller in Tampa Bay, regardless of who the QB is.
What Could the Bucs do with the 19th Overall Pick?
This is hard to give an exact answer because so many things can happen between now and then but a few positions come to mind. For starters, both Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are scheduled to be free agents and it is unlikely that the Bucs will be able to bring both of them back, so corner could be pretty high on their board when it comes time to pick. Another possibility could be pass rusher. Anthony Nelson and Carl Nassib may not return and Shaq Barrett is going to be coming off of a major injury at 30 years old so I’m not sure the Bucs can count on getting the player they have been used to seeing with him. The Bucs need to find ways to rush the passer without blitzing as much so it would not be a surprise if their selection in April is someone who can help in that area.
Like I said earlier, there are a lot more than just three questions for this team this offseason, but these three are pretty big and could determine what type of season Tampa is in store for in 2023 and beyond.