Proposed Blockbuster Trade Sends Buccaneers a New 21-Year-Old Star QB

Bruce Arians

Getty The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a new QB1 following Tom Brady's retirement.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may need to turn to the NFL draft to find their next starting quarterback, but the team could find it challenging to land a reliable QB1 with the No. 19 pick. USA Today’s Luke Easterling offers a potential solution for the Bucs as the analyst has Tampa Bay trading up to No. 6 in order to select Ohio State star C.J. Stroud in his latest mock draft.

As Easterling noted, the Buccaneers would need to send the Lions their first-round pick for 2024 as well as additional draft capital in order to move up. Historically, trading up for a quarterback is typically more expensive than targeting a player at another position and opposing teams (in this case Detroit) can take advantage of this precedent.

“Tom Brady’s finally retiring (for real, this time), and the Bucs’ brass won’t be interested in a full rebuild,” Easterling wrote on February 2, 2023. “What they could do, should a polished, pro-ready franchise quarterback like Stroud make it to this spot, strike a deal to move up ahead of the equally QB-needy Raiders and Panthers to snatch him. It’ll likely cost at least next year’s 1st-round pick and this year’s third-round pick (probably more), but it would give the Bucs a quality restart at the game’s most important position, on a cheap rookie deal.”

C.J. Stroud Is Drawing Comparisons to Dak Prescott

Having watched Stroud in-person during the the Buckeyes’ narrow playoff loss to the Bulldogs, the quarterback displayed the ability to move the pocket with his legs that NFL teams have been waiting to see from the playmaker. Stroud has already shown his ability to win games from inside the pocket, but consistently utilizing his athleticism will be the next step for the signal-caller when he reaches the NFL.

Stroud threw for 3,688 yards, 41 touchdowns and six interceptions during his 13 appearances in 2022. Despite flashing his ability on the ground, Stroud only rushed for 108 yards during this same span. ESPN’s Matt Miller sees some similarities between Stroud and Cowboys star Dak Prescott.

This comparison has taken a hit given Prescott’s close to the season, but the Dallas signal-caller is a two-time Pro Bowler. Prescott is one year removed from throwing for 4,449 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 68.8% of his passes in 16 appearances.

“At 6-3 and 215 pounds, Stroud has really good touch accuracy to all levels of the field,” Miller wrote on January 21. “He’s also an above-average runner and mover in the pocket when given room to operate. The hardest thing about evaluating Stroud is extrapolating his talent from the Buckeyes’ scheme and figuring out what he can do without that system around him.”

The Buccaneers Have Also Been Linked to Derek Carr

The clearest pathway for the Bucs to find a quarterback not already on their roster is via the draft. Tampa Bay is projected to be more than $55.7 million above the cap this offseason and the draft offers the most affordable options.

This has not stopped the Buccaneers from being linked to veteran quarterback Derek Carr. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson noted that there is chatter around the league that Tampa Bay could be Carr’s landing spot.

“So, the buzz here at the Senior Bowl, I’m in Mobile, Ala. by the way, the buzz is connecting them [Bucs] with Derek Carr,” Robinson said during a February 1 episode of “You Pod to Win the Game.” “Like, that’s probably the Derek Carr destination. I only believe that if the Bucs are like, ‘Let’s not reboot completely. Let’s not just nuke it right now and start all over again. Let’s see if we can maybe put this back together again.'”