Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said that he wants to add a veteran quarterback to the roster, and one former MVP and rival, Matt Ryan, remains available.
“We probably would like to bring in a vet. Just somebody that has been there done that and can be in that room with them, not necessarily somebody that we think is going to take over the competition,” Licht said on WDAE via JoeBucsFan.com. “But somebody that can just add to that room. We’ve got a few options that we’re keeping in mind.”
Ryan, 37, could emerge as one of those options. After a stellar career with Bucs rival Atlanta, Ryan’s career took a tailspin with the Indianapolis Colts last year. The Colts benched Ryan amid subpar play multiple times as he finished with 3,057 yards passing for 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 12 games played. The Colts released him in March, and no other team has signed him yet.
The Bucs have remained in quarterback limbo since the retirement of Tom Brady on February 1. Baker Mayfield, whom the Bucs signed in March, and former second-round pick Kyle Trask look poised to vie for the starting job, but neither has proven to be a career-long franchise quarterback.
Why Matt Ryan Remains Unsigned
Part of his unsigned status could stem from money. Ryan signed a $12 million deal with the Colts last year after he made $150 million on a five-year deal with the Falcons, his final contract with his original team.
Ryan’s status could include his play — at least his viability as a season-long starter amid five-consecutive losing seasons. Turnovers plagued his play in recent years with 11 or more picks in each of the past four seasons. He also averaged fewer than seven yards per attempt the past two years, and he threw for 20 or fewer touchdowns each of the past two seasons.
Despite Ryan’s on-field decline, he could still serve as an effective backup. Ryan also “professed a desire to keep playing” according to The Athletic’s Zak Keefer.
“Ryan was deeply respected in the locker room, both by players and coaches, and led a game-winning drive in each of the Colts’ four wins in 2022,” Keefer wrote. “But his arm strength wasn’t the same, and the turnovers were a problem from the very start.”
Bucs Set on Starting Quarterback Competition
If Ryan signed with the Bucs, he could bring more veteran leadership and postseason experience to the quarterback room but could fit Licht’s vision as the clear third quarterback.
“Right now we like the competition that’s going on with Baker and Kyle, [and] couldn’t be happier with the way it’s going right now, just both of them getting ready to go into training camp,” Licht told WDAE via JoeBucsFan.com.
The Bucs didn’t draft a quarterback last week, but Licht acknowledged “there were a couple of quarterbacks” of interest but “not necessarily high” picks, JoeBucsFan.com. Two quarterbacks who visited the Bucs before the draft — Will Levis and Hendon Hooker — both slid past the Bucs despite going later in the draft than expected.
Tampa Bay signed former Southeastern standout Kaylan Wiggins after the draft.