Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL Offseason Preview: What’s Next, Now that Tom Brady has Retired?

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TAMPA, Fla. – Life after quarterback Tom Brady: That’s what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trying to figure out out of season.

Sign or trade for a marquee free-agent quarterback, and the window to fight remains open. But if they come empty-handed and are forced to turn to Blaine Gabbert, who has not started a game since 2018, or Kyle Trask, who was their fourth quarterback on the depth chart last season, it will be a rebuild, though it is general. manager Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians will not call it that – they prefer to use the term “reload” instead.

Even before they try to put their list back together, their scary list of opponents outside their division will give an uphill battle: They face the Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals , Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.

Expected salary cap: $ 7.9 million

Top Free Agents: WR Chris Godwin, TE Rob Gronkowski, C Ryan Jensen, RB Leonard Fournette, DL Ndamukong Suh, OLB Jason Pierre-Paul, CB Carlton Davis, S Jordan Whitehead, RG Alex Cappa, RB Ronald Jones II, RB Giovani Bernard, DL William Gholston , TE OJ Howard, QB Blaine Gabbert

Potential cutback candidates: With so many players set to become free agents, it’s less about who to cut and more about who they do not want to bring back. Pierre-Paul played through a torn rotator cuff all season – could Joe Tryon-Shoyinka be ready to take over as the starter against Shaquil Barrett? Although Gronkowski was missing five games, Howard essentially disappeared. And it was very telling that in crucial situations last season, the Bucs did not look to Jones, who, one might argue, was blacked out by Ke’Shawn Vaughn during the off-season when Jones was injured.

The big question: Could Brady return? Six days after announcing his retirement after 22 seasons, Brady opened the door to a possible return and said on his podcast that although he was happy with his decision and looked forward to focusing his energy on things away from football, “You say never never. ” Whether Brady wants to return to Bucs is still unknown – even though Bucs did everything they could to appease him – but by placing him on the reserve / retired list, they will retain his rights, which means that if he would play elsewhere, another team would have to compensate the Bucs, similar to what happened to the Gronkowski and New England Patriots.

Best scenario for the team’s offseason: If the Bucs can trade for quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson – or even Kyler Murray, Carson Wentz or Derek Carr – and still manage to sign their main free agents – Godwin, Davis, Jensen, Fournette and Whitehead – it’s a win.

Worst-case scenario for the team’s offseason: The Bucs are unable to sign or trade for a top-tier quarterback, they are forced to rely on Trask or Gabbert, Gronkowski retires, leaving them with a tight end on their current list in Cameron Brate. The lure of coming to Tampa to win championships is no more.

Early look at the NFL draft from ESPN analyst Jordan Reid: As Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting enter the final year of their rookie deals and Davis is a franchise candidate, the Buccaneers’ long-term prospects for cornerbacks are bleak. Finding a young player in the position could be an option. After Brady’s retirement, the quarterback is another big question mark. They chose Trask with the last choice in the second round a year ago and he could get a chance to start, but the team could also be aggressive in finding his next answer below the middle.

top needs: CB, QB, IDL

top choice: # 27

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