Buccaneers Could Land $3.5 Million Playoff QB in 2023, Says Analyst

Todd Bowles

Getty Todd Bowles could lure a familiar quarterback in 2023.

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can’t keep quarterback Tom Brady for 2023, pursuing a rising playoff quarterback makes a lot of sense.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith could become a free agent after an impressive season as a full-time starter where he led the team to the NFC playoffs. Smith threw for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions as he posted a 9-8 record for a team once considered a rebuilding project before the season.

Brady, 45, could retire or leave in free agency after the season, which would leave the Bucs in a possible rebuild state. If Smith joined the Bucs and the team keeps its core, the Bucs could contend for the NFC South division title again in 2023.

Smith, 32, didn’t cost the Seahawks too much with a salary of $3.5 million per Spotrac. While Smith could easily command more money from the Seahawks or another team in 2023, he will likely command much less than Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, a former MVP, ranked the top free agent for 2023 by Pro Football Focus.

Smith ranks No. 2 overall by PFF among potential free agents, which shows promise that Smith isn’t a one-year wonder. He spent the past six years as backup and didn’t fare well as a starter with the New York Jets in 2013 and 2014 with 25 touchdowns versus 34 interceptions in those two seasons.

“It’s not often you hear about the age-32, Year 10 breakout, but that’s exactly what we’re witnessing this season from Smith,” PFF’s Brad Spielberger wrote. “Nothing about what he’s doing is fluky or excessively bolstered by things like play action, an outlier performance in unstable metrics like passing grade against pressure, or any other method you use to try to poke holes in his production this season.”

PFF graded him ninth overall among quarterbacks. Spielberger noted that Smith threw 14 touchdowns of 20 yards or more, something the Bucs didn’t enjoy with Brady and the offense in the regular season as production plummeted. Spielberger added, regarding Smith, that “there’s no current indication we should expect some massive regression” next season.

Todd Bowles Sees Great Things in Geno Smith

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles praised Smith ahead of the Germany game with the Seahawks in November 2022. Bowles previously coached Smith with the Jets in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s a credit to his hard work,” Bowles told the media about Smith in November. “You gotta grow up in this league a little bit, everybody gets that chance. When I had him he was a lot younger. He was a very good quarterback then. The maturity as a backup kinda sets in when you become an older quarterback.”

Smith had a solid game against the Bucs in a 21-16 loss with 275 yards passing for two touchdowns and no interceptions. He completed 69.7% of his passes in a game where the Seahawks relied on his arm because the Bucs shut down running back Kenneth Walker III.

Can the Bucs Win a Bidding War for Geno Smith?

Tampa Bay will likely face stiff competition in bidding for Smith’s services this offseason — especially from the Seahawks. Head coach Pete Carroll has already been vocal about his desire to  keep Smith.

“I mean he better come back,” Carroll told reporters on Sunday, January 8. “Obviously, I want the best for him, and hopefully we can have that conversation in exit meetings; we’re still alive right now, we still have a chance. But he’s played phenomenal.”

The Bucs also face a challenging salary cap situation with $43.2 million over the cap per Spotrac. In addition, the Bucs have more than 20 free agents to re-sign, and that could impact Smith’s interest level in leaving Seattle for Tampa, too.