The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be looking at their next quarterback.
As the reality of Tom Brady either retiring or leaving in free agency in 2023 becomes a possibility, the Buccaneers will have look for their next starting quarterback. As mentioned by Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will likely become available this offseason.
Gagnon argues that the Buccaneers are a potential landing spot for Tom Brady’s former backup quarterback as Tampa Bay may “coax” him to replace Brady with the team’s stellar supporting cast.
“The Bucs won’t likely have much money to spend either, but who knows if Tom Brady will be back,” says Gagnon. “And if he isn’t, it’s entirely possible they coax Brady’s former understudy to relieve him with a stellar supporting cast in Florida.”
49ers Could Move on From Garoppolo Due to Lance
Garoppolo previously served as Brady’s backup while the two were members of the New England Patriots during his first four seasons in the league (2014-2017). The former second-round draft pick was eventually traded to the 49ers in the middle of the 2017 season, where he has mostly served as San Francisco’s starting quarterback since.
The 31-year-old quarterback has remained a steady presence for the 49ers after taking over the starting job from the injured Trey Lance in Week 3. Garoppolo has led the team to a 6-3 record as the starter while throwing 16 touchdowns versus four interceptions for a 103.0 passer rating — his highest as a member of the 49ers.
However, as Gagnon mentions in his article, the 49ers invested significant draft capital when they selected Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. The 49ers traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick to move up in the draft to select Lance.
Report: 49ers Could Bring Back Garoppolo
Gagnon believes that the 49ers will move on from Garoppolo. However, a recent report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport indicates that may not be the case. Rapoport states that the idea of the 49ers bringing back the veteran quarterback isn’t off the table.
“A few months after the team and Garoppolo amicably decided to move on, only to get back together again in a wild sequence of events that led to him being their starting QB once again, both sides are open to him being back for the 2023 season, sources say,” says Rapoport. “It’s early with plenty of season left, but that scenario is not off the table.”
There’s little doubt that Garoppolo could probably emerge as Tampa Bay’s best option in 2023. As mentioned by Gagnon, he ranks third in terms of DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) and DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), according to Football Outsiders. Furthermore, he’s one of just four quarterbacks with a 112-plus passer rating on third down.
A crazy scenario proposed by Mike Florio of NBC Sports sees the possibility of Brady actually replacing Garoppolo in San Francisco.
“The 49ers also could decide to turn the page (finally) to Trey Lance,” said Florio. “Or, after saying ‘no’ to Tom Brady in 2020 and perhaps flirting with him a little bit in 2022, they could decide to bring the 46er to the 49ers for a year, with Lance taking over in 2024.”
The Buccaneers will bring back their key weapons on offense — Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette — whether or not Brady returns next season.
Instead of going with Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask or an underwhelming option in free agency — Baker Mayfield or Teddy Bridgewater, for example — Tampa Bay would remain a playoff contender by signing Garoppolo.
This scenario is definitely a realistic one.