The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be a dark-horse destination for a Pro Bowl quarterback.
The Buccaneers may very well be looking for a replacement for Tom Brady this season. The 45-year-old will be a free agent and could either sign with another team or simply retire. With Brady’s future uncertain, Tampa Bay has to start considering other options.
Ian Wharton of Pro Football Network proposes a scenario where the Buccaneers make a move for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith. Although Smith will be a free agent, he also could realistically be franchise tagged. In this scenario, Wharton proposes the Seahawks franchise tag Smith before they end up trading him to the Buccaneers.
“Brady has been bad this season, looking slow physically and missing pre-snap cues that he once aced as well as anyone in NFL history,” says Wharton. “The Buccaneers offensive line hasn’t done him favors, and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich failed to find an answer. Going from Brady to Smith would be a solid upgrade for Tampa Bay. But going with Smith would require significant cap gymnastics and possibly cost their first-round pick.”
Geno Smith Emerged as Top-Tier QB in 2022
As Wharton mentions, the move could cost the Buccaneers high draft capital — potentially even a first-round draft pick.
Smith is coming off of the best season of his career, emerging as a viable starter after clinching his first Pro Bowl campaign in 2022. The 32-year-old led the league in completion percentage and ranked near the top in many passing categories, including passing touchdowns (fourth), passer rating (fifth) and passes completed (sixth).
The Seahawks have made it clear that they want Smith back in Seattle. General manager John Schneider recently addressed the topic while speaking to reporters.
“We had a great talk. He knows what the process is gonna be,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said during a an appearance on 950 KJR on Wednesday, January 26. “We’d love to have him back, he knows that. He’d love to be back here as well. He knows it’s about the entire team and putting this whole thing together, and it’s going to be a process.”
While both sides want to continue their working relationship moving forward, a big concern is, what exactly is Smith’s value?
Buccaneers Not Likely to Acquire Smith Due to Cost and Draft Assets
According to Spotrac, Smith’s market value is projected to be $39.3 million per year — which is the ninth-highest in the league among quarterbacks.
If the Seahawks merely give Smith the franchise tag and he’s content with that, he’ll be paid $32.4 million for this season. But considering Smith’s resurgent year while leading the Seahawks to a postseason berth, it’s more likely that the veteran is seeking a longer-term deal while also being paid big money.
In this scenario, maybe the Seahawks place the franchise tag on Smith only to trade him to get assets. Smith could then potentially receive a long-term deal in Tampa Bay.
Wharton mentions how the move would be at a “steep cost.” He suggests the Buccaneers move on from key players such as left tackle Donovan Smith ($17.9 million cap hit) and running back Leonard Fournette ($8.5 million cap hit) in order to clear up cap space.
“It’s a steep cost that would limit their ability to fill important roster needs,” says Wharton. “Smith would inherit a veteran team and a terrific set of receivers. Tampa should part with left tackle Donovan Smith and Leonard Fournette to save money.”
Smith would make sense from a personnel standpoint, considering his ability to throw the ball deep. But if Brady does leave the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay is more likely to be in a rebuild, rather than a reload. With that being the case, it’s hard to envision Tampa Bay acquiring Smith — whether that be via trade or by signing him.