The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have an opportunity to make a run at another New England Patriots quarterback with Mac Jones being mentioned as a possible trade candidate this offseason. Pro Football Network’s Justin Tier has the Bucs among the possible landing spots for Jones if the Patriots opt to move on from the quarterback in the coming months.
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be completely resetting this offseason, but that doesn’t make Mac Jones a bad fit,” Tier wrote on February 19, 2023. “In fact, the Bucs may want to see if they can get a young former first-round QB on the cheap as a way of preemptively striking at the game’s most important position instead of searching through the draft and hoping they strike gold.”
Things worked out the first time the Bucs landed an ex-Patriots signal-caller as Tom Brady brought the second Super Bowl in franchise history to Tampa. Could Jones succeed Brady for the second time of his young NFL career? Jones represents an affordable option but there are also serious red flags that could prevent the Bucs front office from making a move.
The Patriots Have Some Frustrations With Mac Jones: Report
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Bill Belichick might not be thrilled with Jones last season, including some of his sideline antics directed towards coaches. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio made the case for Jones to be a potential trade target for the Raiders, but the same philosophy can be applied for New England to explore a possible deal with any team.
“After the season ended, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked whether Jones will be the team’s starter in 2023,” Florio detailed on February 14. “Belichick didn’t answer the question, saying instead that Jones has proved he can play in this league. Perhaps a trade could happen, pairing Jones with the former Patriots offensive coordinator who helped Jones have a solid rookie season.”
Would Mac Jones Be an Upgrade for the Bucs Over Kyle Trask?
All this may be true but the question the Buccaneers must ask is whether Jones offers a major upgrade over Kyle Trask. Jones possesses more NFL experience than Trask (who has played in just one game) but his upside remains a question mark. The Patriots quarterback threw for 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 14 starts in 2022. Jones also added 102 rushing yards and a TD on the ground.
These are manageable numbers not outside of the realm of possibilities for Trask to eclipse in 2023. Leaning on Trask would not cost the Bucs any draft capital as a trade for Jones likely would demand. Jones is on a team-friendly four-year, $15.5 million contract that still has two seasons remaining (plus a possible fifth-year option). The Pats signal-caller is slated to have a $2 million salary for next season.
Could the Bucs Wait Until 2024 to Make a Major Quarterback Move?
The Buccaneers face an uphill battle to make a significant quarterback move this offseason as the team is more than $55 million above the salary cap. Tampa Bay could afford to make a move for a quarterback like Jones, but we detailed above why there is little incentive for the Bucs give up assets for the signal-caller.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Buccaneers players are preparing for Trask to be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023. The early signs point to Tampa Bay turning the keys to the offense over to Trask while taking a wait and see approach ahead of next offseason. The 2024 quarterback class headlined by Caleb Williams and Drake Maye is expected to be stronger than the current group of prospects. If Trask underwhelms this upcoming season, the Buccaneers could make a run at a new quarterback in 2024.