Buccaneers May Pursue $118 Million Former Pro Bowl QB, Says Analyst

Tom Brady

Getty Tom Brady faces an uncertain future with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a shortlist of quarterbacks the team was exploring when Tom Brady briefly retired last offseason. The Bucs may need to dust off this list in 2023 pending Brady’s upcoming free agency. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell identified a few potential replacement options for Tampa Bay including Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

“The organization is familiar with Jameis Winston, who spent five years with Tampa and worked underneath Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator in 2019,” Barnwell wrote on December 19, 2022. “Winston is likely to be released by the Saints. Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen was in that role under Adam Gase in Miami with Ryan Tannehill, who could also come available this offseason.”

The Bucs would need some help from the Titans in order to have a chance at landing Tannehill. The quarterback is slated to have a $27 million salary in the final season of his four-year, $118 million contract. Tennessee has an out in Tannehill’s current deal that would allow the team to release the former Pro Bowl quarterback, but the Titans would still take an $18.8 million dead cap hit, per Sportrac. It remains to be seen whether Tennessee will fully hand over the offense to Malik Willis next season or potentially look to add another quarterback.

The Titans Made the Playoffs in 3 Straight Seasons Since Trading for Tannehill

If the Titans opt to move on from Tannehill this offseason, the team would likely prefer to trade the veteran in an attempt to get something in return for the signal-caller. Tannehill threw for 2,536 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 65.2% of his passes during 12 starts this season. The quarterback is expected to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

Tannehill made a resurgence since arriving in Tennessee and is just two seasons removed from posting 3,819 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 65.5% of his passes in 16 appearances during 2020. Tennessee made the postseason for three straight years since the Titans pulled off a trade with the Dolphins for Tannehill in 2019. The quarterback made the Pro Bowl during his first season in Tennessee.

Rumors Are Linking Brady & Payton to the Saints

It is challenging to project Tannehill’s trade value, but the Bucs may able to land the quarterback via trade without giving up a first-round pick. Tampa Bay’s preference would be to retain Brady, but the quarterback has struggled throughout 2022. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported there is a growing buzz that Brady is considering a move to join the Saints in free agency if Sean Payton ends his brief retirement.

“Earlier this month, we mused about Sean Payton and Tom Brady finally getting together in 2023, possibly with the Saints,” Florio detailed on December 27. “While the possibility Brady to New Orleans (or anywhere) remains a complete and total unknown, there’s a growing school of thought in league circles that Payton, if he coaches in 2023, will return to the Saints.

“One source with a finger firmly on the pulse of pro football told PFT that it’s currently the ‘worst-kept secret’ in league circles.”

The Bucs lack a QB1 solution if Brady moves on from the team next season with Kyle Trask as the lone quarterback on the roster for 2023. Tannehill lacks the star power of some of the other potential options, but serves as a reasonable solution if the cap-strapped Bucs can find a way to take on his salary. The Buccaneers would not have to make a long-term commitment to Tannehill as the quarterback is slated to be a free agent in 2024.