There will be a lot of change in 2023 for the Buccaneers and there may not be a bigger change then who is the starting quarterback for the team this coming season. With Tom Brady’s retirement, the Bucs have a gaping hole at the most important position in football.
While Kyle Trask could and likely will get a shot to win the starting job in camp, the job will not be handed to him. Instead, he will have to earn that job by beating out another QB or two. This upcoming free agency represents an opportunity for Tampa Bay to add a veteran to the mix and these names should be under consideration.
Why not replace Brady with someone who was once considered a candidate to replace him in New England? Brissett over the years has become a journeyman of sorts, having multiple different stops in Indianapolis with the Colts, as well as the Miami Dolphins and most recently the Cleveland Browns. The 30 year old signal caller will be looking for his fourth team in four years and that stop could very well be in Tampa Bay.
Brissett is not flashy, but he is a game manager that could be a valuable bridge QB to the next guy, whether that is Kyle Trask or someone else. Brissett played well at times for Cleveland last year, including beating the Bucs in overtime after leading a game tying drive late in the contest. He would also be an affordable option, as Spotrac projects his market value to be 5.4 million dollars on a one year deal and he may even get a bit more than that, but it shouldn’t break the bank. If the Bucs want to ease Kyle Trask or a rookie QB into things, then starting the season with Brissett could make a lot of sense for Tampa Bay.
Perhaps the most polarizing name that has been mentioned as far as QB options go this offseason. Some believe that the former number one overall pick still has some potential and could have a career revitalization, while others believe he is a lost cause. I don’t know if Mayfield can turn his career around whether it is in Tampa Bay or somewhere else, but I think it could be worth a shot.
Like Brissett, Mayfield will be looking for his fourth team... but this time it is in a year. That is just crazy to think that Mayfield could potentially be on four different teams in a calendar year. After having a shaky divorce with the Cleveland Browns, Mayfield was traded to the Carolina Panthers where he started six games, having a record of 1-5 as a starter before being benched and later released. He would then be picked up off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams and actually play decent, including leading a comeback win on Thursday Night Football against Vegas just days after landing with Los Angeles. Spotrac has Mayfield’s market value slightly higher than Brissett’s with a two year deal worth 6.5 million annually which he may actually exceed anyway.
Mayfield will be 28 when the season begins and has more upside than a guy like Brissett, but his lows are also very low. If the Bucs get the chance though at the right price, they should consider seeing if he can find that spark again and be David Canales’ new Geno Smith. No risk it, no biscuit right?
Here is a name that Bucs fans should be pretty familiar with. Heinicke’s story is a fascinating one. After going undrafted in 2015 out of Old Dominion, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings where he spent two seasons then had bounced around with teams like the Patriots, Texans and Panthers. This is where things get really interesting. He went to the XFL to play for the St Louis Battlehawks but did not get the chance to start any games due to the Pandemic that ultimately shut the league down in April 2020. He would return to the NFL in December 2020 when he signed with Washington’s practice squad. His big coming out moment? The 2020 wild card game against the Buccaneers that Heinicke started and played very well in considering the circumstances. He went 26-44, 306 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Bucs would go on to win the game and then eventually the Super Bowl, but Heinicke gave Todd Bowles’ defense a real run for their money.
Heinicke would re-sign with Washington that offseason and get his revenge on Tampa Bay in the 2021 season, beating them in a 29-19 upset win. He started 15 games that year, going 7-8 as a starter. After Washington added Carson Wentz in the 2022 offseason, Heinicke was relegated to a backup role, but did eventually come in to start once Wentz began to struggle. He started nine games for the Commanders in 2022 and went 5-3-1, including being the only QB to beat the Eagles in the regular season with Jalen Hurts as the starter. Now, Spotrac has an interesting projection for his market value which if this is the case, would take him off the board for Tampa Bay. They project a three year contract worth 19.8 million dollars annually. I can’t see the Bucs, or any team for that matter paying him that much so I see that number being much lower than their projection.
Heinicke could come in and provide a spark for Tampa Bay. Over the course of his two full seasons in Washington, he just found ways to win games and the Washington locker room seemed to love him. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and that chip could be valuable to the Bucs.
All three of these options are all unique in their own ways, but one thing they have in common is that they would be legit competition for Kyle Trask this coming training camp. We will see if the Buccaneers decide to add one of these names, but each one should at least be on their radar.