Buccaneers Could Make Run at $28 Million Rival Quarterback, Says Analyst

Tom Brady

Getty It is unclear what the Buccaneers will do at quarterback after Tom Brady.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be in the market for a new starting quarterback in 2023 depending on Tom Brady’s decision regarding his future. Brady will be a free agent this offseason with retirement or signing with another team remaining possibilities that the Bucs need to plan for this offseason. Tampa Bay will not have the option to use the franchise tag on Brady making the quarterback an unrestricted free agent.

If Brady is not with the Buccaneers next season, the team could look to a familiar face to be their QB1 for 2023. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell sees a potential reunion with Jameis Winston as one of the possible paths Tampa Bay could take in a post-Brady era. The Buccaneers selected Winston with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL draft, and the quarterback was the Tampa Bay QB1 from 2015 to 2019.

“The organization is familiar with Jameis Winston, who spent five years with Tampa and worked underneath Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator in 2019,” Barnwell wrote on December 19, 2022. “Winston is likely to be released by the Saints. Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen was in that role under Adam Gase in Miami with Ryan Tannehill, who could also come available this offseason.”

Winston Lost the Starting Job With the Saints

As Barnwell alluded, the Saints could move on from Winston this offseason by releasing the quarterback but would still take a $11.2 million dead cap hit. Winston is slated to have a $12.8 million salary in 2023 as part of his current two-year, $28 million contract.

Winston won the starting job over the offseason, but injuries played a role in derailing his season in New Orleans. The former Pro Bowler threw for 858 yards, five interceptions and four touchdowns while completing 63.5% of his passes during three starts in 2022.

Winston has since lost the QB1 job to Andy Dalton, painting an uncertain picture about the quarterback’s future with the Saints. Things have gotten a bit tense in New Orleans as Winston voiced displeasure about losing his job while being sidelined.

“It hurts my soul, and that’s all I can say,” Winston told reporters on November 18. “…I lost my job due to injury, and the policy has always been you don’t lose your job because of an injury. And that’s what happened.”

Bucs Will Have Limited QB Options With Team Projected to Be $40 Million Over Cap

The Bucs assuredly would love to go star hunting again if they are forced to look for a new quarterback, but the team is projected to be more than $40 million over the cap. Kyle Trask will be the only quarterback Tampa Bay has on the roster heading into free agency, but the 2021 second-round selection has yet to take a regular-season snap.

Tampa Bay’s preference would be for Brady to re-sign with the Bucs, but the next best option financially would be for the legendary quarterback to retire. If Brady signs with another team, the Buccaneers will be forced to deal with a more expensive dead cap hit in 2023.

“If Brady retires, Bucs can process it in such a way where much of the $35 million in dead money counts toward 2024 and less in 2023,” Fox Sports’ Greg Auman tweeted on December 11. “If he signs elsewhere, all $35 million counts against the 2023 cap.”