Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay called Garoppolo “a strong fit” for the Bucs in free agency. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback fittingly could succeed retired quarterback Tom Brady, which Garoppolo was drafted for in New England.
“With Brady retiring following a tough 2022 season, the Buccaneers find themselves in a strange position,” Kay wrote. “They were hamstrung by health issues last year but still have the makings of a squad good enough to contend for a championship. Tampa may lack a viable quarterback right now, but Garoppolo could be the veteran to lead this club on another run.”
“Mike Evans and Chris Godwin represent dream targets for any quarterback,” Kay added. “The ground game features a potential up-and-coming star in Rachaad White. The offensive line should be improved after it was ravaged by injury last year.”
Tampa Bay’s challenge for 2023 lies in a dismal salary cap situation of $58.5 million over the salary cap. The Bucs also have 20-plus free agents to re-sign, but only one of them were regular offensive starters in 2022.
Trask, a third-year quarterback, could become the starter in that light, which ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported as a realistic possibility. Trask, however, has only 10 snaps of regular season experience, and his six preseason games left much to be desired with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Garoppolo will simply cost more and require numerous moves to fit him under the Bucs’ salary cap. Spotrac projects Garoppolo at $34.9 million annually. However, Garoppolo has a greater track record of success with two NFC Championship Game appearances, and he won two Super Bowls with the Patriots as a backup to Brady.
“The main question is whether the Bucs want to try to keep the ship afloat with a proven signal-caller at the helm or tear things down and rebuild,” Kay wrote. “If they opt for the former, Garoppolo is a strong fit and could keep Tampa’s championship window open for a few more years.”
Can the Bucs Really Afford Jimmy Garoppolo?
Tampa Bay can find a way out of its salary cap mess and land a proven veteran quarterback such as Garoppolo. Pewter Report salary cap specialist Joshua Quiepo explained how that would work.
The Bucs need to cut Cameron Brate, Donovan Smith, Leonard Fournette, Ryan Succop, and Russell Gage, Quiepo suggests, to save $22 million in cap space. Restructuring contracts could “free up as much as $29.5 million” or more based on Quiepo’s suggestions. He floated Godwin, Carlton Davis III, Ryan Jensen, and Shaquil Barrett and Vita Vea as players contracts to restructure.
Based on Spotrac’s calculations, the Bucs could get under the salary cap with all of the aforementioned moves. The Bucs could also lose additional cap hits in free agency, depending on who signs elsewhere.
Ultimately, the Bucs would need Garoppolo to work out a team-friendly deal with voidable years — something the Bucs did often during the Brady era.