Bleacher Report recently named Leftwich among former NFL players up for head coaching jobs next year. It went a step further on the Ira Kaufman podcast where Indianapolis Colts were floated as a potential destination for Leftwich in 2023. It could also mean former head coach Bruce Arians, now the senior advisor to the general manager, coming along with Leftwich to Indianapolis.
“Bruce Arians is close with [Colts owner] Jim Irsay. You know he’s going to call Irsay and say, ‘you got to interview Leftwich [and] this is why I’m vouching for the guy,'” Steve Isbitts of JoeBucsFan.com told Kaufman. “And Irsay is going to say to Bruce Arians, ‘well, Bruce, if I hired Byron, if I like him, are you coming with him?'”
“That’s a very interesting scenario,” Kaufman responded. “If that would guarantee, guarantee that Leftwich gets that job, I think Arians would consider it and perhaps pull [offensive consultant] Tom Moore along with him.”
The Colts could gain added leverage to lure away Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, a free agent in 2023. Both Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and the Indy Star’s Scott Horner floated Brady joining the Colts as a possibility. Florio noted Brady choosing the Colts would hinge on who is coaching the team.
Indianapolis also has $25.9 million in salary cap space next year, per Spotrac, and could go after other free agents from the salary cap-strapped Bucs. Tampa Bay has a dire salary cap situation in 2023 at $50.7 million over the salary cap, per Spotrac.
Family Obligations Could Spare Bucs from Colts’ Ambitions
Arians promoting Leftwich in 2023 looks likely. Arians moving in 2023 doesn’t look realistic.
“I think ultimately, Arians is so committed to seeing his guys get opportunities,” Kaufman said. “Now look, I don’t know how going to Indy would it with Christine [Bruce’s wife] who by the way … just had her second knee replacement, so Arians is doting on her like a stay-at-home doctor. You know when, he leaves the [Bucs] facility, he goes right home and tries to take care of Christine.”
“They’re very comfortable in Tampa,” Kaufman added.
Likewise, Brady has significant family reasons to stay in Florida. Two of his children live in Miami, and his oldest son lives in New York. Going to Indianapolis would put Brady more than two hours away by airline from all of his children.
The Bucs, including Arians, also have optimism that Brady could play for the team in 2023.
“He loves it here,” Aians told Kaufman in an interview for JoeBucsFan.com. “He loves his teammates, his coaches and the organization. If he decides to play next season, I think it will be with the Buccaneers.”
Leftwich Has More to Prove
Leftwich’s chances of nabbing any head coaching job in 2023 hinges on how well he gain guide a Bucs offense that started slow this season.
Bucs fans called for Leftwich’s job as little as two weeks ago after the team squeaked by the Los Angeles Rams 16-13 in Week 9. Things looked better for the Bucs in a 21-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10 as the team rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time since Week 1. Leftwich has seven more games to work with in Bucs’ season.