NFC Rival ‘Most Likely’ to Make Move for Buccaneers QB Tom Brady: Analyst

Tom Brady

Getty The Commanders could pursue Buccaneers QB Tom Brady in the offseason.

A familiar NFC rival may be in hot pursuit of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

As proposed by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell in his list of teams that could make quarterback moves, the Washington Commanders could be Brady’s next destination. According to Barnwell, Brady is the “most likely” quarterback that they pursue.

Barnwell references how the Commanders previously tried to trade for Russell Wilson in the offseason before landing veteran quarterback Carson Wentz in free agency instead.

“Remember that the Commanders tried to trade for Russell Wilson before coming up short and landing Wentz instead,” says Barnwell. “Bizarrely, while Wentz has struggled, missing out on Wilson has been one of the best things to happen to this franchise. I would expect Rivera to look toward veterans who represent significant upgrades on Heinicke, and he can pitch Brady on an excellent defense and a burgeoning group of offensive playmakers. The idea of Brady in burgundy seems bizarre, but then again, who thought the greatest player in league history would wear pewter?”

Potential Playoff-Bound Commanders Lacking Star QB

The Commanders are currently in the thick of the NFC playoff chase with the conference’s No. 7 seed at a record of 7-6-1. Since Wentz’s finger injury in Week 6, Taylor Heinicke has taken over the starting quarterback position. The Commanders have gone 5-2-1 with Heinicke as the starter, losing both games to playoff contenders (Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants).

Washington appears to have a solid nucleus with a top 10 defense and a head coach who has previously led a team to a Super Bowl in Ron Rivera. However, the offense is really stagnant despite possessing a talented supporting cast in receiver Terry McLaurin and running backs Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson. The Commanders’ offense ranks 25th in the league, averaging 18.9 points per game. Under Heinicke, the offense has been slightly better, averaging 20.4 points per game. However, that number would still rank the Commanders just 21st in the league, on par with the New Orleans Saints.

The Commanders have full leverage when it comes to their quarterback situation, with Heinicke entering free agency next offseason and Washington being able to shed Wentz with zero money owed to the veteran quarterback.

Why Brady Could Depart Buccaneers in 2023

Meanwhile, Brady’s future with the Buccaneers is uncertain. The 45-year-old quarterback will be a free agent and he probably won’t have any shortage of possible suitors if he decides to play another year. Tampa Bay would obviously welcome the seven-time Super Bowl champion back, but they face severe salary cap issues entering the offseason.

“Brady will be an unrestricted free agent on a team that currently projects to be $40 million over the salary cap,” says Barnwell. “Brady is responsible for $35 million in dead money, which the Bucs can restructure if he re-signs with the team before the new league year begins in March. Tampa will need to go on a Saints-style restructuring spree to get under the cap, but it has constraints which weren’t there when Brady arrived three years ago.”

The Buccaneers’ lack of flexible salary cap may scare Brady away from re-signing with the team for a fourth season. On the other hand, the Commanders will have salary cap space entering the offseason before making any moves, possessing the eighth-highest amount of cap space entering 2023.

If Brady decides to play another year, the Commanders — who faced the veteran quarterback in the postseason just two years ago — could make a run at the future Hall-of-Famer.

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