Former Sports Illustrated NFL reporter and current NBC Sports columnist Peter King, one of the most respected voices covering football, listed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a dark horse destination for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in free agency this offseason.
Brady, who has won six Super Bowls in 20 seasons in New England, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his Hall of Fame career. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has publicly stated that he wants Brady back, but there would be several suitors in free agency for the greatest quarterback of all time – even at age 42 – including Oakland, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Tampa Bay.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will also be a free agent after spending his first five years in Tampa Bay, and is coming off a year in which he threw for a league-leading 5,109 yards and a career-high 33 touchdowns. But Winston also had a league-high 30 interceptions and became the NFL’s first 30-30 QB, in addition to setting a record for most pick-sixes in a season with seven.
Tampa Bay finished 7-9 and has posted just one winning season with Winston at the helm, versus three years with double-digit losses. The Bucs may want an upgrade at the quarterback position to help the team make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
In speaking with WEEI’s Dale & Keefe radio show on Thursday, King said the Bucs have a lot to offer Brady, including a chance to work with noted QB guru Bruce Arians and a pair of Pro Bowl wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
“The one that I believe is the sleeping giant in this is Tampa Bay, and when I say that, if Jameis Winston is realistic with what his contract demands/requests, whatever are, in my opinion he will be the quarterback of the Bucs next year. But, I don’t know that. I am hearing some things out of Tampa that he might be, and his agents might want a little bit more money than the Bucs want to pay. And we’ll see if that pans out. We’ll definitely see.
“Look, they have a pretty good offensive line and they’ve got two excellent receivers. They’ve got a really good young tight end, and they have a very imaginative head coach and offensive coordinator in the passing game. I can’t tell you absolutely what they would do or what they are going to do, but I can tell you that they are fascinating to me because Bruce Arians isn’t coaching forever. I think he is one of those guys that all quarterbacks say, ‘Man, it would be cool to work for Bruce Arians’ because he’s such a fun offensive mind.
“Hey, look, everybody can say, ‘No, not that team. No, not this team.’ But, we’re talking about Tom Brady and we’re talking about a guy who obviously once he comes to your team does so much for it, including sells tickets like no other person in this free agent market is going to be. So, I guess I look at it and say when I think of Tampa Bay and Tom Brady, it makes as much sense to me as any of these other teams out here with the possible exception of the Chargers.”
Tampa Bay is in “win-now” mode with Arians turning 68 this year, and general manager Jason Licht having just one winning season out of six at the helm of the franchise. So acquiring a proven winner like Brady certainly makes sense, especially with Tampa Bay’s weapons on offense and an improving young defense.
With Raymond-James Stadium typically having 15,000 – 20,000 empty seats shy of capacity, the Glazers would love to have Brady’s star power create the type of buzz that would instantly fill the stadium and attract national attention and media coverage to the Buccaneers.
PewterReport.com has pondered the Brady-To-The-Bucs scenario several times this month, and it will be interesting to see if Brady does hit free agency, and ultimately where he lands in 2020.
Odds For Brady To Play On Bucs Released – January 5
SR’s Fab 5: Is Brady An Option For The Bucs? – January 17