The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used the first overall draft pick to select Jameis Winston in 2015, but five years later are no closer to fixing their quarterback woes. Winston is scheduled to enter free agency next week, after all, and is no lock to return coming off a season in which he moved between spectacular and head-scratching play on a down-to-down basis: he led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and threw 33 touchdowns, but also had a league-high 30 interceptions.
It is therefore no surprise that the team is rumored to look for an upgrade at the position, such as the greatest quarterback of all time: according to report by the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud, the Buccaneers have set their sights on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to potentially succeed Winston. The 42-year-old is apparently the team’s top choice, ahead of the New Orleans Saints’ Teddy Bridgewater and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers.
Stroud wrote the following about Tampa Bay’s expected pursuit of the future Hall of Famer:
This is not hype. It’s hope. This is fact, not fantasy. This is the plan. This is the Bucs’ play. [...] The Bucs are all in on Brady.
Despite coming off a 7-9 season that forced the team to sit at home during the playoffs for the 12th straight year, the Buccaneers have a lot of things they can offer Brady: from near-unlimited financial resources — Tampa Bay is expected to be around $80 million under the salary cap — to a talented supporting cast that includes wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate and running back Ronald Jones.
The team also has a head coach that has plenty of experience working with big-name quarterbacks: Bruce Arians, who coached both Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, is reportedly not sold on Winston and therefore advocating for Brady. Arians, who is entering his second season in Tampa Bay, did just that at the NFL’s scouting combine in Indianapolis in February when he said that he would “pick up the phone” if Brady called in free agency.
Nevertheless, the Buccaneers will have to do a fine job to convince Brady to join them. Not only would he leave the most successful team in the league (and the best head coach) for a perennial bottom-dweller, he also would have to get used to playing behind an offensive line that surrendered 47 sacks in 2019. Sure, a lot of them were on Winston, but the number is still a lot bigger than the Patriots’ 28 — a strong supporting cast goes beyond talented pass catchers.
Based on financial potency alone, however, the Buccaneers should be kept an eye on as a team trying to lure Brady away from a New England organization that has only one week to convince him to stay put after all. And that money and talented wideouts are not necessarily the key to success.