Buccaneers Urged to Consider 2-Time Pro Bowler

Bruce Arians

Getty Bucs senior advisor Bruce Arians previously played a significant role in bringing a big-name quarterback to Tampa Bay.

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claim to be out of the running for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, one key Bucs staff member doesn’t totally rule it out.

Bucs senior staff reporter Scott Smith acknowledged that pursuing Jackson makes sense for a team such as the Bucs, which just saw quarterback Tom Brady retire in February. Jackson, a former MVP and two-time Pro Bowler, has been in a contract standoff with the Ravens since last year, and he announced last week that he requested a trade  on March 2.

“Jackson is 26 years old, he’s four years removed from being just the second unanimous MVP selection in league history [the other was Brady, natch], and Baltimore’s offense has been better by an enormous margin when he’s been on the field than when he’s been off it,” Smith wrote. “He could legitimately throw for 3,000-plus yards, run for 1,000-plus yards and account for 40-plus total touchdowns. He’s done it before. You will hear concerns about his recent injury history and playoff struggles [in too small of a sample size, in my opinion], but he is undeniably a very talented player.”

“As such, there should be no shortage of teams that would at least conduct internal conversations about whether or not they should pursue Jackson, and that would be doubly true of teams that are currently unsettled at the quarterback spot,” Smith added. “And yes, the Buccaneers belong in that category as they move on from the Tom Brady era.”

Finances Remain the ‘Hurdle’ for Bucs

As Smith noted, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles alluded to the team not affording Jackson during an interview at the NFL Annual Meeting last week.

The Bucs entered the offseason with more than $50 million over the salary  cap, and now sit at $1.32 million under the cap per Spotrac. Jackson previously turned down a $200 million guaranteed from the Ravens in 2022 according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, so the Ravens gave him a non-exclusive franchise worth $32 million this year. That tag allows for the Ravens to trade Jackson if the right suitor comes along.

While Smith acknowledged the value of the Bucs at least considering Jackson, the Bucs reporter wrote the financial constraints are significant. Smith wrote that he thinks “that’s what removes the Buccaneers from any Lamar Jackson consideration” this year. The Bucs also recently signed veteran quarterback Baker Mayfield for just $4 million.

“The team has already had to make a number of tough decisions to erase what was a potential $55 million salary cap overage, and they did that while also somehow retaining the likes of Lavonte David, Jamel Dean and a few others and signing Mayfield,” Smith wrote. “I know it sometimes seems like anything is possible no matter what the supposed cap limitations are, but this seems like too big of a hurdle for the Bucs to get over,” Smith added.

How the Bucs Could Pull off Landing Jackson

Tampa Bay’s path to hurdling financial constraints comes in voidable years, something the team did frequently during the Brady era.

FOX Sports’ Greg Amuman noted that the Bucs currently have 11 contracts with voidable years. That includes David, Mayfield, Carlton Davis, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Shaq Barrett, Ryan Jensen, Russell Gage, and Vita Vea. The Bucs have “$75.8 million in dead money stuck in those future void years” according to Auman.

A trade for Jackson would also cost the Bucs — and any team — at least two first-round draft picks and possibly more, as Smith noted.