The Tampa Bay Buccaneers landed Tom Brady last offseason, but the team had a contingency plan at quarterback if they were unable to sign the legend. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the Bucs targetted Teddy Bridgewater as a back-up plan if Brady opted to sign with the Chargers.
“The Bucs’ backup plan if Brady had chosen the Chargers would’ve been Teddy Bridgewater,” Breer explained. “Bridgewater’s fine, but the difference between him and Winston likely would’ve been minimal either way. Which means at 68, without Brady, he’d have been in no man’s land at quarterback.”
Ultimately, Brady decided to head south and has the Buccaneers two wins away from the Super Bowl. Bridgewater ended up signing with the Panthers as one of the team’s first major moves under head coach Matt Rhule. Bridgewater threw for a career-high 3,733 passing yards and 15 touchdowns while completing 69 percent of his passes this season. The Panthers quarterback also struggled with turnovers throwing 11 interceptions in his 15 appearances.
Arians on Bridgewater: ‘He Was Very, Very High on [Our] Radar’
Prior to the Bucs-Panthers matchup in September, Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians admitted the team had targetted Bridgewater. When Brady picked the Buccaneers, it was a no-brainer to sign the veteran, but Arians explained that the team was “very high” on Bridgewater.
“He was very, very high on [our] radar,” Arians noted, per The Charlotte Observer. “I’ve always [been a] big fan of his. He’s a bright guy, very accurate and doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s just one heck of a quarterback.”
Bridgewater signed a three-year, $63 million contract with the Panthers, while Brady’s deal has him in Tampa through the 2021 season. The Panthers quarterback declined to go into details when he was asked earlier this season about the Bucs’ pursuit.
“I don’t want to dwell on the past right now,” Bridgewater noted, via The Charlotte Observer. “I’m excited that I’m here in Charlotte, the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. We have a chance to do something great around here and I’m excited that I get to come to work every day with a group of guys who understand what’s at stake for us, we all play with a chip on our shoulder.”
Brady Recruited the Bucs During Free Agency
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht joked that it felt like Brady was recruiting Tampa Bay during free agency when they initially spoke with the quarterback. Licht admitted the Bucs believed they had a good chance at signing Brady after he began laying out all the reasons why their franchise was an attractive option.
“As soon as Wednesday rolled around and we were able to talk to Tom Brady, we had a great conversation, Bruce and I, we talked to him for over an hour and a half,” Licht explained during a March 2020 interview on ESPN’s Get Up, via TampaBay.com. “And he made it clear in the conversation that he was very, very interested. It was almost like a recruitment on his part telling us why it would make sense for him to come to Tampa Bay. And the following day we signed him, but it was at the phone call that we realized, we felt like had him.”