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With the "Brett Favre coming out of retirement" rumors in full force, the Buccaneers have been a team that has been discussed as a possible destination for Favre. Several reports have indicated that Favre is coming back, and the Packers do not want him to return to Green Bay.
The Packers have four options to consider. The first option they allegedly have tried: talk Favre into staying retired. The emotional Favre has supposedly decided that he does want to play this season and is going to make his comeback official in the near future according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King. The second option for the Packers is to allow Favre to return to the team and resume his place as their starting quarterback.
The Packers coaching staff has spent the offseason preparing for life after Favre, and has tweaked its offense in order to best utilize their new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If the organization decides to stick with Rodgers, the Packers' remaining two options are to cut Favre or trade him.
There are numerous reasons why Tampa Bay has been linked as a possible destination for Favre. The Buccaneers have a habit of acquiring quarterbacks, and have shown no qualms with playing quarterbacks who are in their 30's. Favre has a lot of experience in the West Coast offense, and has a history with Bucs head coach Jon Gruden.
With all the debate and rumor, this Campbell's Cover 2 will debate whether the Bucs should bring in the future Hall of Fame signal caller.
Cover 1- The Buccaneers should not acquire Favre
The first reason not to add Favre to the Bucs is team chemistry. If Favre became Tampa Bay's quarterback, the team would most likely have to cut current starter Jeff Garcia. After leading the team to the playoffs coming off of a 4-12 season in 2006, it would illustrate a lack of loyalty to one of the team's leaders. That would send a bad message to the Bucs players: even if you excel, lead the team to the playoffs, and make the Pro Bowl, we are still looking for a better deal elsewhere.
If both quarterbacks are on the roster, the organization could argue that Garcia was signed to a contract to compete with Chris Simms to be the starting quarterback in 2007, and now is competing with Favre to be the starter in '08. Neither Favre nor Garcia is going to be happy competing for the position, and Favre probably would not accept a trade to any team where he would have to compete to play.
Getting rid of Garcia after his gutty performance in 2007 could upset team chemistry. It would also negate any continuity that the offense has with the same starting quarterback for two straight seasons, the first time since 2003-04. Favre would have to develop a rapport with his new teammates solely in training camp, without the opportunity to work with them at organized team activities and mini-camps.
Even more critical then getting acclimated to new teammates, Favre would have to learn Gruden's complicated offense in a very short amount of time. Last season, Garcia discussed how the offense was much more complex then the West Coast offenses he had years of experience in. Garcia indicated that it took quite awhile to get comfortable with the offense, and that he wasn't comfortable until the season was well underway. At the conclusion of the offseason practices in June, the Buccaneers had installed the majority of their offense. It could be a mistake to hold back the rest of the offense in order for Favre to catch up.
Why? Well, it is not a stretch to believe that Favre would not have enough time to learn the offense before the Bucs would be playing meaningful games and some of their most significant games of the season, namely the season opener against the Saints. If the Bucs traded for or signed Favre, they would have roughly 40 days for him to learn the offense, execute it while he's learning it, and prepare for the regular season. After that it would be time for game planning opponents, and not mastering the offense. That seems like a tall order for even an experienced future Hall of Fame quarterback.
While Favre is experienced and has remained healthy throughout his career, all athletes eventually start to decline in their physical skills. It would not help the Buccaneers' chances of advancing in the post-season if Favre's skills are declining as the season goes on, especially with a long layoff this offseason.
Favre has thrown four more touchdowns than interceptions over the past three seasons, 66 and 62, respectively. One of the best aspects of the offense under Garcia last season was the protection of the football. Garcia threw 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Those picks came in only two contests. Favre is the all-time leader in interceptions, but that is not the only manner in which he gives the ball away.
Aside from the interceptions, Favre has been inclined to fumble the football. Over the past three seasons Favre has had 27 fumbles. In his career, he has had six seasons where he had 10 or more fumbles, and in 2001 he put the ball on the ground 16 times. Three other seasons, including last year, Favre had nine fumbles. Favre's propensity to throw interceptions and fumble the ball could be a big hindrance in the team's ability to beat elite competition.
Part of Favre's fumbles and interceptions stem from his gambling, gun-slinging style of play. He tries to make something out of nothing at times, and that results in him turning the ball over. That is probably not the model that Gruden wants his young quarterbacks of Luke McCown and Josh Johnson to follow. Favre is one-of-a-kind, and Garcia's competent game managing skills are a better example for most young quarterbacks.
If Favre were not released would he really be worth exchanging a mid-round draft pick for? That player could be a player that plays a bigger part in Tampa Bay's future. The deal could wind up being a long-term player for a one-year guy. Favre is an emotional player, and he may decide to permanently retire after one season, or the Buccaneers could get themselves into a position where they are waiting on Favre for months after each season to make up his mind about playing in the next year.
Of course, the Buccaneers would likely get a public relations boost from bringing in the All-Pro quarterback, but as a football move it seems too far-fetched. Not only is Favre an aging player, but starting with the team in training camp and learning the offense while the rest of his teammates are preparing for the season seems to be impractical, and allowing for a strong possibility that the offense will get off to a slow start. Slow starts under Gruden have not resulted in playoff berths in January for Tampa Bay.
Cover 2- The Buccaneers should acquire Favre
There are few opportunities to add a Super Bowl quarterback, and that is what Favre is. While his Super Bowl win and loss were over a decade ago, he led his team to the NFC championship Game last season. At the age of 38, Favre had one of the best seasons of his career, so it is hard to argue that his skills are declining with age.
He threw for 4,155 yards and completed 66.5 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The completion percentage was a career best for Favre and the he also had a career high in yards per attempt with 7.8. Prior to the emergence of running back Ryan Grant, Favre carried the Packers' offense while they separated themselves from the rest of the NFC North. Favre led the Packers offense to the second-ranked attack in the NFL last season.
The nine-time Pro Bowler also stayed in the lineup and hasn't been a non-starter since 1992, his record streak stands at 253 consecutive starts, 275 including the post-season. Favre is the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes (442), passing yards (61,655), completions (5,377), and wins by a starting quarterback (160).
Aside from Favre still being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, there are a few reasons why the Buccaneers should acquire the future Hall of Famer. First of all, the Bucs and Favre are a good fit. Favre, along with Joe Montana and Steve Young, is one of the best West Coast offense quarterbacks of all time. Gruden watched Favre develop while serving on head coach Mike Holmgren's staff in Green Bay. Favre and Gruden go way back – it was Gruden that picked Favre up from the airport when the Packers traded for him.
Favre would want to go to a team that can challenge for the Super Bowl right away, and with a strong defense and good running game Tampa Bay's roster should be appealing to Favre. Another appeal to Favre will be that Tampa is a lot closer to his family in Mississippi. It will be easier for him to get there on off days, and it will be closer for his family to get to home games and Bucs' road games in New Orleans, Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, and Dallas.
The argument that there is not sufficient time for Favre to know the offense well enough for the season is a legitimate concern. However, the Bucs roster strength could allow some extra time for Favre to get comfortable with Gruden's offense. The rest of the offense should be able to help give Favre more time by utilizing last season's strength of the running game. With a talented stable of backs and a young powerful offensive line, the Buccaneers look like they will have a formidable running attack in 2008. Early in the season the Bucs could call more run plays while Favre is catching up to speed.
Even though Favre may be a bit behind in his knowledge of the offense in the beginning, with his cannon and accuracy it will be hard for teams to bring a safety close to the line of scrimmage and play eight men in the box. With Joey Galloway's speed on the outside and Favre's arm to get him the ball downfield, the Bucs should be able to mix in enough play-action passes to keep defenses honest and maintain a passing threat.
One of Favre's best throws is the slant, and that is a route that Galloway and Gruden have used for much success. Bringing in Favre's ability on those routes should be a very dangerous combination. Gruden and Favre could work on a limited amount of routes and packages centered on Favre's strengths, and the common ground they have in the West Coast offense. As the season progresses and Favre gets more comfortable, the Bucs could then add more to their game plans and become more diverse.
Replacing Garcia after his 2007 Pro Bowl season might seem somewhat cold-hearted, but Garcia and the team have not been able to come to terms on a contract extension. It appears that what Garcia wants in terms of compensation is more than what the organization is comfortable paying. The Buccaneers could use the contract impasse as a reason for moving on to another quarterback. The organization could say that with an uncertain future with Garcia, they felt they had to bolster the situation when they could get an all-time great quarterback like Favre. The excitement and attention of bringing in Favre would be massive.
After a rough offseason as it pertains to public relations, the Bucs would get a boost out of acquiring Favre, the only three-time winner of the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. In addition to making a good public relations move, Favre would also help ticket sales for the upcoming season, not to mention jersey sales.
Tampa Bay has the cap room to add Favre, and aside from Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen is an admirer of Favre's as well. If Favre were released then the Bucs could sign him to a contract, which they could easily do from a financial perspective. The team also would probably feel more comfortable giving a big one or two-year contract to Favre then Garcia. Favre, who is under contract with the Packers for two more seasons, can be counted to make all of his starts. By contrast, Garcia has been injury prone and many people believe that he will not be able to make all 16 starts next season. The last time that Garcia started every game was the 2002 season. For Favre, the last time he didn't start a game was in 1992.
If the Bucs had to trade for Favre, the compensation would probably be a mid-round draft pick. For argument's sake, let's say it would be a third-round pick. Favre would offer more to the team making and winning a championship then a typical third-round draft pick, even if he only plays one or two seasons. Look at the third-round draft picks the Bucs have made in this decade.
2000 Nate Webster LB
2001 Dwight Smith DB
2002 Marquise Walker WR
2003 Chris Simms QB
2004 Marquis Cooper LB
2005 Alex Smith TE
2005 Chris Colmer OT
2006 Maurice Stovall WR
2007 Quincy Black LB
2008 Jeremy Zuttah OL
It is too early to say whether the last three third-round picks will pan out, but prior to that, only Alex Smith, Simms, and Dwight Smith became starters. Of those three, Alex Smith is the only one of those players that is considered to be part of the Buccaneers' future. Considering the impact of Tampa Bay's third-round picks, it does not seem foolish to trade one for a quarterback that could be the difference in a playoff game, especially for Gruden, who has watched the Bucs lose two home Wild Card Games in two of the past three years.
With Favre behind center, the team would not only have a greater potential to have a difference maker in a playoff game, but also give the team the ability for comeback victories. In his career, Favre has led 38 come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter. Last season, and in the years prior, the Bucs have not been a team that can erase a significant deficit and come back to win a game.
This particular skill of Favre's would be novel to Tampa Bay under Gruden. In 101 games under Gruden, including the playoffs, the Bucs have never overcome a deficit of more than seven points. Favre's arm and propensity to lead drives for quick scores, would give the Buccaneers the ability to win games that may have been out of reach to previous Bucs teams.
Tampa Bay should acquire Favre if he becomes available. The talent and upgrade at the most important position in football is too good to pass up. While he would be behind in the knowing the offense, the Bucs running game and defense are strong enough to help shoulder the load while Favre gets up to speed. If the Buccaneers want to go all out in order to win a Super Bowl in 2008 they should acquire Favre.
Garcia is a fine quarterback that deserves a ton of credit for the Bucs going from worst to first in 2007. However, Tampa Bay would have a better shot at a Super Bowl championship with Favre at quarterback. If he becomes available, the Buccaneers should add him to the team. It seems illogical to turn down acquiring one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Who would Bucs fans rather have quarterbacking the team down the stretch of the season in November or December: Favre or Garcia? Which signal caller would they rather have under center in the postseason? Given his track record and accomplishments, how could you not say Favre?
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