Three Replacements For Tom Brady as Buccaneers QB
By Liam McKeone
Tom Brady is retiring. Probably. Maybe? Nobody knows for sure at this point. Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington broke the news that Brady planned to retire yesterday afternoon, which spurred a series of other reports stating that Brady hasn't made a final decision yet. His agent, Don Yee, released a statement via Schefter. Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported Brady called the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to tell them he hasn't even come close to making his final call. All the while, reports rolled in from other top newsbreakers (like Ian Rapoport) confirming that Brady was going to retire.
So while the all-time great QB hasn't yet officially hung up the cleats, the signs are all pointing to retirement as the inevitable conclusion coming this offseason. This means, among many other things, the Bucs have a hole at QB without an obvious successor. The rest of the roster is expensive and aging; such is the cost of going all-in for two years in pursuit of winning right now. Nobody can ever truly replace Tom Brady but Tampa Bay can still contend with a decent QB at the helm considering the talent still hanging around.
Here are a few options to consider, keeping in mind that Tampa will have very little cap space to work with in free agency.
What a wonderful comeback story this would be. Winston is a free agent after spending two years under Sean Payton's tutelage in New Orleans. But he tore his ACL in 2021 and Payton retired, so everything should be on the table in free agency. Winston would check a lot of boxes. He knows the offense, the coaching staff knows him, and should come quite cheap considering his circumstances.
Of course, this coaching staff may not be interested in bringing Winston back after he became the first quarterback to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in one season. He seemed to have improved while in New Orleans, throwing only three picks to 14 touchdowns in seven games before getting hurt, but it's still a worryingly small sample size. If Winston is interested in another one-year prove-it deal and is healthy, the Bucs need to at least consider it.
Trask is one of the two backup QBs the Bucs had on the roster all year. The other was Blaine Gabbert, who we already know is bad and will almost certainly not end up a starter in 2022 unless he's improved dramatically behind the scenes. Trask, on the other hand, is still somewhat of an unknown commodity. He was the last pick in the second round of last year's draft after starting for two years at Florida, throwing 43 touchdowns and eight picks in his final year with the Gators.
Trask flashed pro potential at Florida but was widely viewed as a project that was a long shot to work out. The Bucs nabbed him in the second round specifically to have an option in the scenario they now face. Only Bruce Arians and Co. know if Trask is ready. If he is, things couldn't work out better for Tampa; Trask is on a cheap rookie deal that would do wonders for the team's cap sheet if he can play well enough to hold down the starting job.
The San Francisco 49ers are very likely going to shop Garoppolo this offseason no matter how far the team advances in the postseason. Trey Lance is the future over there even if Jimmy G game-manages his way to a title this year. The Bucs should be very interested in that scenario.
We all know Garoppolo at this point. He is a good but not great quarterback who will make one or two bone-headed mistakes per game that can be very costly. But he's good enough that games are won en masse if he has a strong roster around him. The Bucs have the type of roster to support a QB like Garoppolo, one stocked with elite defenders and pass-catchers with a great offensive line. If Tampa Bay wants to contend for championships next year, Garoppolo is a proven winner whose flaws can be covered up well enough to win playoff games and maybe even a Super Bowl. Health is definitely an issue and the Bucs shouldn't be trading multiple first-rounders for his services, but if a reasonable deal can be struck he's the ideal replacement for Brady in terms of where this team is at and where they want to go.