Buccaneers the Favorite to Land Former Pro Bowl Quarterback

Bruce Arians

Getty Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said the team might have to look behind "Door No. 2" at quarterback.

Rumors have connected the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to nearly every NFL quarterback, but there is one player who the team admitted they had their eyes on prior to Tom Brady’s move south: Teddy Bridgewater. The Broncos quarterback is once again being linked to the Bucs following Brady’s retirement. According to the CBS Sports’ odds, Bridgewater is the favorite to be the Buccaneers starting quarterback in Week 1 at +400.

Bridgewater played on an affordable one-year, $4.4 million contract in 2021 and will be a free agent this offseason. The veteran quarterback posted 3,052 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 66.9% of his passes in his 14 appearances during the 2021 season. Bridgewater had difficulty holding onto the Broncos starting job this season, but a strong argument can be made that he would be in a much better position in Tampa given the quality of offensive weapons on the roster.

After Bridgewater led the Saints to victory over the Buccaneers in 2019, Arians praised the quarterback as a “good, solid player.”

“I’ve always loved Teddy,” Arians said on October 6, 2019, per USA Today. “He’s a good, solid player and should be a starter in this league.”

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The Buccaneers Are Predicted to Sign Bridgewater

CBS Sports is not the only outlet to link Bridgewater to the Buccaneers. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox made quarterback predictions for the NFL offseason and has the Bucs signing Bridgewater.

“However, this doesn’t mean that Bridgewater cannot be a serviceable starter for a different team in 2022,” Knox explained on January 31. “Those looking for a bridge quarterback or a veteran stopgap could do worse than Bridgewater, who has 63 games of starting experience.

“…Bridgewater isn’t the gunslinger that Brady was this past season, but he should be good enough to make the Buccaneers relevant in the NFC South next year.”

The CBS SportsLine odds also list Jimmy Garoppolo (+500), Cam Newton (+500) and Marcus Mariota (+600) as the other favorites to be the Bucs next quarterback.

The Bucs Were Planning to Sign Bridgewater Before Landing Brady: Report

NBC Sports’ Peter King reported after the Buccaneers signed Brady in 2020 that the team had Bridgewater as their backup option. The three quarterbacks on the Bucs’ list were Brady, Bridgewater and Jameis Winston.

“Why Winston, still, at three? Because Arians loved him as a worker and competitor, and he had hope that he could be saved, and he knew the locker room loved him,” King detailed on March 23, 2020. “Arians was still optimistic he could get Winston to buy into the art of the checkdown if they had to, and the teaching of [Tom] Moore, who preached, ‘You never go broke putting money in the bank.’

“But it was clear to those around the building that the Bucs needed to try to get Brady—and if it looked like a shot in the dark by the legal tampering period, then they’d move on to Bridgewater. They were optimistic they could get Bridgewater if they whiffed on Brady.”

Two offseasons later, Brady is riding off into the sunset of retirement, and the Buccaneers could once again be staring down at the other two quarterback options: Bridgewater and Winston. Both players are free agents, but the Buccaneers will have to do their due diligence to see if either player is the best option for the franchise in 2022.

If the Bucs do sign Bridgewater, it is likely an indication that they have confidence Kyle Trask can be their quarterback of the future, while the veteran serves as a bridge for this season. Bridgewater is unlikely to return to his Pro Bowl form from 2015 but could be an affordable option to compete with Trask to be the Bucs QB1 in 2022.

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