The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have an interesting replacement for Tom Brady.
As Brady plays out what could potentially be his last season with the Buccaneers in 2022, Tampa Bay could have a replacement in hand. As proposed by ESPN NFL analyst Matt Miller, the Buccaneers could replace Brady with his former backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo is currently the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, but will be a free agent in the offseason.
“It’s gonna be wild if free agent Jimmy G replaces a retiring Tom Brady in Tampa next season,” Miller tweeted on Wednesday, November 16.
Brady Says No Retirement in Future
Brady remains one of the top quarterbacks in the game. The 45-year-old quarterback leads the league in pass attempts and interception percentage and ranks second in passing yards.
The 23rd-year veteran recently commented on the topic of retirement, stressing that it’s not on the table anytime soon.
“I love the sport and I love the teammates,” Brady said on October 21. “I want to go do a great job for this team like I always have. No retirement in my future.”
It’s worth mentioning that Brady made these comments while in the midst of a three-game losing streak. It could simply be Brady’s way of diffusing any off-the-field distractions while Tampa Bay attempts to clinch a playoff berth.
Garoppolo May Be Bucs’ Best Option at QB
If Brady does indeed retire, Garoppolo may be Tampa Bay’s best option. The free agency market for quarterbacks will obviously be led by Lamar Jackson. However, if the Baltimore Ravens do re-sign their former MVP quarterback, the crop is thin for veteran quarterbacks. Geno Smith — who the Seattle Seahawks reportedly want to re-sign moving forward — and Baker Mayfield would be the next best quarterbacks available.
Garoppolo was previously involved in trade rumors following the conclusion of the 2021 season. After San Francisco failed to find a trade partner for the veteran quarterback, the 49ers re-signed Garoppolo to a deal beneficial for both sides after he was expected to enter the season as a backup.
However, after starter Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury, Garoppolo re-emerged as San Francisco’s starter. The 31-year-old quarterback has led the 49ers to a 4-3 record this season while posting a 100.0 passer rating. That number actually exceeds Brady’s 91.9 passer rating this year.
Considering’s Garoppolo’s pedigree for winning — he has a Super Bowl appearance and an NFC Championship Game appearance to his name over the past three seasons — he may be the team’s best option for the 2023 season.
Veteran backup Blaine Gabbert has sparsely played in recent seasons and has actually never started a game for the Buccaneers. Gabbert’s last start came during the 2018 season with the Tennessee Titans. In fact, Gabbert hasn’t started at least eight games in a season since 2015.
Tampa Bay’s previous head coach, Bruce Arians, had committed to the possibility of Gabbert as the starter for the 2022 season had Brady remained retired.
“People may not like the overall record, but Blaine had eight head coaches and eight coordinators his first eight years,” Arians said in February, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “He beat Jacksonville their best year and beat Tennessee their big year for us in Arizona. And he’s been in the system now. I don’t have a problem there and let Kyle [Trask] continue to grow. Either one. [Gabbert] has never played with a team this good. He’s got all the respect in the locker room that he can have.”
Gabbert’s lack of playing time in recent years combined with Kyle Trask’s inexperience means the Buccaneers may be forced to look elsewhere — such as Garoppolo — for their replacement for Brady.