The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could turn to the NFL draft to find their quarterback of the future following Tom Brady’s retirement. The Bucs will likely need to trade up if the team wants to land a top quarterback prospect such as Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, but prior to the retirement news, ESPN’s Jenna Laine predicted the Buccaneers would draft Anthony Richardson, and re-sign Blaine Gabbert as a bridge option until Richardson is ready to play.
“Bucs coach Todd Bowles said, ‘You never want to rebuild; you’re always reloading,'” Laine wrote on February 1, 2023. “But Tom Brady not returning, it certainly feels like a rebuild and will warrant some patience. Drafting Richardson and having Blaine Gabbert serve as a bridge makes sense.
“Richardson is still a raw prospect but won’t be asked to start right away. The interceptions are concerning (nine), but he has a big arm and plenty of mobility, and his ability to improvise when plays break down brings another dimension to the offense.”
Anthony Richardson Is a ‘Total Freak Show With a High Ceiling,’ Says Draft Analyst
Richardson threw for 2,549 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 53.8% of his passes during 12 appearances for the Gators last season. The playmaking quarterback also added 103 carries for 654 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler said Richardson is a “total freak show with a high ceiling,” but the Bucs may need to exercise patience with the quarterback’s long-term development.
“Thanks to his size, athleticism and arm, Anthony Richardson is a total freak show with a high ceiling, but he’s still figuring out how to be a consistent passer,” Brugler wrote in his January 17 mock draft.
The Bucs Could Lean on Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask as Bridge for Rookie QB
Laine wrote that one option for Tampa Bay is to re-sign Gabbert while drafting a long-term quarterback option like Richardson. This would create a quarterback competition with Gabbert, Kyle Trask and the rookie signal-caller. While some Bucs fans would love another big splash at quarterback, the franchise is projected to be more than $55 million over the cap this offseason. A scenario where Tampa Bay re-signs Gabbert while drafting an intriguing prospect like Richardson remains one of the most realistic pathways for the Bucs at quarterback.
Derek Carr would not make a lot of sense as a trade target, but could be an intriguing potential free agent option if the quarterback is released. Jimmy Garoppolo could be another option for Tampa Bay, but both veterans would require the Buccaneers to get creative with the salary cap. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has Richardson as his No. 13 overall prospect and fourth-ranked quarterback while admitting the playmaker is “incredibly raw.”
“Richardson packs elite arm strength and athleticism into a big/physical frame for the position, but he is incredibly raw on tape,” Jeremiah wrote on January 31. “He has urgency and explosiveness in his setup, and the ball jumps out of his hand from his three-quarters arm slot.”
“He is electric as a runner, using his burst, agility and power to rack up runs of 60 to 80 yards. In summary, Richardson needs polish, but his upside exceeds everyone in the draft class. He’s a low-floor/high-ceiling prospect.”