Proposed Blockbuster Trade Sends Buccaneers a Playmaking Quarterback

Chris Godwin Mike Evans

Getty Questions surround who will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' long-term solution to throw passes to Chris Godwin (left) and Mike Evans (right).

Looking ahead to the 2024 NFL draft, there are plenty of Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans who want to see USC star quarterback Caleb Williams eventually wear pewter, black and red. The reality is for the Bucs to land Williams the team will likely need the No. 1 pick barring a surge from another top signal-caller during the college football season. This would mean the Bucs have the best chance to add their next franchise quarterback, but also indicates Tampa Bay would have had the worst record for 2023.

ESPN’s Todd McShay offers another possible solution with the Cardinals holding the No. 1 selection and trading down to No. 5 where the Buccaneers were originally slated to pick in his early mock draft. The order is based on the Las Vegas Super Bowl odds, and it is entirely possible that Tampa Bay can exceed expectations this season.

“The Bucs are going into the 2023 season with Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask under center, but I don’t think either is the long-term plan — especially since Mayfield is on a cheap, one-year deal,” McShay wrote on May 4, 2023. “Mayfield was last in QBR in 2022 (24.6), and Trask, a second-rounder in 2021, has thrown nine passes in the NFL. Williams is coming off a Heisman season, throwing for 4,537 yards in 2022. He has a good arm and excels at creating when things break down. He’s an exceptional QB prospect and would be worth the move up from No. 5 to get him.”

NFL Draft 2024: What Would Trading Up for USC QB Caleb Williams Cost the Buccaneers?

According to ESPN, there have been 13 occasions where the No. 1 pick has been traded prior to draft night, including 2023 when the Bears and Panthers struck a blockbuster deal. What would it cost the Bucs to trade up to the No. 1 pick, assuming they do not own the selection?

What Tampa Bay will need to give up depends on how high of a pick the Bucs land on their own. If the Buccaneers make the postseason, general manager Jason Licht will be paying even more of a premium for the top selection. Yet, if Tampa Bay is able to reach the playoffs, it likely means that either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask played well enough to potentially be the long-term QB1 solution.

For context, ahead of the 2023 draft Carolina traded the No. 9 pick, No. 61 selection, a 2024 first rounder, a 2025 second-round pick and wide receiver D.J. Moore to Chicago in order to land the No. 1 pick where former Alabama star Bryce Young was ultimately selected. Back in 2016, the Rams moved up from No. 15 to No. 1 for Jared Goff by sending the Titans their first-, second- and third round picks along with 2017 first- and third-round selections. Los Angeles also received 2016 fourth- and sixth-round picks in addition to No. 1 from Tennessee.

Caleb Williams Is Drawing Comparisons to Patrick Mahomes Ahead of 2024 NFL Draft

A lot can change between now and the 2024 draft, but Williams heads into the coming college football season with a comfortable lead to be the future No. 1 pick. Williams threw for 4,537 yards, 42 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 66.6% of his passes during 14 games in 2022. The USC playmaker is also a threat with his legs rushing for 382 yards and 10 TDs on the ground. ESPN’s Matt Miller noted that Williams has shades of Patrick Mahomes to his game.

“Williams was the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner and has already received comparisons to Patrick Mahomes from NFL scouts,” Miller detailed on May 4. “Time will tell if he’s that type of NFL quarterback, but as a prospect there is plenty to get excited about. … The early scouting report on Williams is very flattering, and he’s the favorite to be the No. 1 pick next year.”