The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2020 and were contenders in 2021. After Tom Brady’s retirement, it’s all over.
The second Tom Brady announced his retirement, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered a new phase.
Without Brady, the Bucs are without a championship-caliber quarterback. Without that in today’s NFL, and you cease to be meaningful.
Tampa Bay enjoyed two great years with Brady, winning a world championship and then a division title in 2021. However, the team which accomplished those feats could very well get blown up this offseason.
The Buccaneers are looking at a hoard of key, unrestricted free agents including edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, corner Carlton Davis, safety Jordan Whitehead, center Ryan Jensen, receiver Chris Godwin, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, and running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones and Gio Bernard among others. And with only $2.4 million in cap space, general manager Jason Licht is likely resigned to at least losing a few of those names.
For Tampa Bay, the path forward could well be allowing the roster to get younger and cheaper. The Buccaneers are in a bad division with no franchise quarterback save for Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, who is declining and 36 years old. Licht could opt to allow either second-year quarterback Kyle Trask or veteran backup Blaine Gabbert run the show in 2022, hope to be competitive and then go for a new signal-caller in the following draft.
However, should Tampa Bay decide to try and stay a contender, it has options. Licht can use the franchise tag on Davis and perhaps re-sign a few of the players above such as Godwin and Jensen. As for the quarterbacks, the Bucs can either attempt to trade for one of the veterans on the market, ranging from Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson to Jimmy Garoppolo. The latter would make ample sense as a bridge to the next era, all while costing much less than the others.
After two years of having the certainty of Brady, the Buccaneers find themselves trying to regain their footing. It starts in the next few weeks, as Tampa Bay attempts to recoup some talent while backfilling the unavoidable losses, all while trying to find the right answer under center.