The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be one of the favorites to land arguably the most versatile quarterback in the league.
According to Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, the Buccaneers are one of multiple teams considered as ideal destinations for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. In fact, Benjamin considers the Buccaneers to be the sixth-most likely destination for the former MVP quarterback.
“It’s a bit hard to fathom how GM Jason Licht would keep Tampa remotely intact while getting under the cap to afford Jackson, but financials aside, it makes sense: Tom Brady is retired ‘for good,’ the Bucs probably aren’t gonna wanna pivot to rebuild mode after three straight playoff runs (no matter what Bruce Arians says about Kyle Trask), and Jackson would theoretically still have top weapons like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, not to mention while playing in his sunny home state,” says Benjamin.
Why Buccaneers Would Acquire Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
Salary cap logistics aside, making a move for Jackson makes sense. Jackson is from South Florida, which is only several hours away from Tampa. Secondly, Tom Brady probably isn’t going to return and it likely wouldn’t be with the Buccaneers if he did come back.
Despite the departure of several key veterans — Tampa Bay has already made the decision to move on from Donovan Smith, Leonard Fournette and Cameron Brate — the Buccaneers still have a plethora of offensive talent in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Rachaad White.
If the Buccaneers acquired Jackson, they would immediately re-emerge as the favorites in the NFC South even after the New Orleans Saints made a move for quarterback Derek Carr.
Why the Buccaneers Likely Won’t Acquire Lamar Jackson
With that being said, there are complicated logistics in making a move for Jackson when it comes to assets. For one, Jackson signed a non-exclusive franchise tag with the Ravens worth $32.4 million. That frees up the opportunity for other teams to negotiate with Jackson starting on March 13. The Buccaneers could pursue Jackson and make an offer to the 26-year-old quarterback, with the Ravens holding the right to match the offer.
If the Buccaneers end up offering Jackson a better deal and the Ravens don’t match, Tampa Bay would have to give up two first-round draft picks in exchange for the quarterback.
The question is, would the Buccaneers be willing to give up major draft assets along with paying Jackson a deal well worth over $32 million annually — Jackson’s market value is $40.7 million annually, according to Spotrac — when they’re almost $48 million over the salary cap (the worst mark in the league)?
By all indications, it appears Tampa Bay wants to go the cheaper route and give Kyle Trask an opportunity to win the starting job along with potentially bringing in a veteran option to challenge him in training camp. As ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported, the Buccaneers could give a look to Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock, who will both be free agents.
“Two options for the Bucs at QB in 2023: Rams Baker Mayfield and Seahawks Drew Lock, according to JFowlerESPN,” says Kleiman. “Tampa is looking to add a veteran and Fowler says the people he spoke with mentioned both Mayfield and Lock as options.”