The list of possible suitors for Tom Brady is interesting, if it isn’t necessarily long. The Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans are present, but the action around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is picking up.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported the Buccaneers are ready to give Brady what he wants in terms of say over the roster and being part of play-calling decisions.
On Wednesday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported Tampa Bay is “going all in” on Brady.
It’s true. The franchise that has not reached the postseason in 12 years will do almost anything to land the quarterback … This is not hype. It’s hope. This is fact, not fantasy. This is the plan. This is the Bucs’ play.
The Buccaneers are coming off a 7-9 campaign in 2019, and they are moving on from Jameis Winston barring something unforeseen. Philip Rivers and Teddy Bridgewater are prominent free agent options for them, but Brady is on a different level.
Bruce Arians is going into his second season as Buccaneers’ head coach. But he is not to be considered a long-timer at 67 years old, and there has to be an urgency to win now in Tampa Bay that many are overlooking. Arians has worked with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer, and he literally wrote a book called “The Quarterback Whisperer”.
Depending on the source, the Buccaneers have either the third (nearly $85 million-Spotrac) or fourth-most cap space ($79.89 million-Over The Cap) in the league right now. Addressing last year’s 30th-ranked pass defense should be a priority, but there will be plenty of room to make moves elsewhere. Stroud suggested $30-$40 million a year for Brady would not be out of the question, and it’s hard to disagree.
Tampa Bay has one of the top wide receiver duos in the league in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. If Breshad Perriman is not re-signed as the No. 3 receiver, after a late-season breakout last year, replacing him shouldn’t be too hard via free agency or a deep draft class at wide receiver. And don’t forget about tight end O.J. Howard. Signing a running back like Melvin Gordon, Jordan Howard or even Derrick Henry in free agency would bolster a lagging running game too.
Looking at the defense a little further, Tampa Bay was No. 1 in the league against the run last year (73.8 yards per game). Going deeper, the unit ranked No. 5 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA in Todd Bowles’ first season as coordinator.
Two excellent wide receivers? Check. A tight end that is a legit threat? Check. The ability to add other pieces to the offense, and add to a defense that was better than it looked broadly on the surface last year? Check and check. A willingness to cater things to him? Apparently, big check.
I’ve liked Tampa Bay as a landing spot for Brady going back several weeks. So it’s no surprise they are ready to make a significant push to get him, and all things considered Brady should find a lot to like there. If he is ready to leave New England, which is still a question, the Buccaneers are the best fit among the rumored outside suitors for Brady.