Tampa Bay may not look far to name a successor for 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, who will play at least another season if not longer.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht just needs to resign backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert before he could leave as a free agent next month. Licht shared his consideration of Gabbert’s future, speaking with the Pewter Report podcast on Thursday.
“First of all, I love his energy,” Licht said according to Pewter Report’s Taylor Jenkins. “I’ve really gotten close to Blaine this year just being on the sidelines. He’s a really smart guy but he is one guy, my scouts and I talk about this a lot, he’s just one guy that I love to watch throw every day in practice because he has got a cannon.”
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Gabbert came to Tampa in 2019 as a free agent to back up former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston under head coach Bruce Arians. While Gabbert’s shoulder injury in 2019 sidelined him, he took advantage of his time in 2020 when the Bucs blew out Detroit 47-7 in December. He threw for 143 yards and two touchdowns, completing 60 percent of his passes.
“He’s very accurate with his throws as well and he can just really whistle them in, in tight windows,” Licht said per Jenkins. “If he had been forced to play, he played in the Detroit game, but if he had been forced to play more, I think that he would have really opened a lot of people’s eyes about how talented he is, especially being in the same system for a couple of years.”
Big Change for Gabbert
It could change Gabbert’s career trajectory as a former top-ten draft pick who only started 10 or more games in a season twice in his 10-year career.
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected him 10th in the 2011 draft out of Missouri but didn’t become the franchise quarterback. He bounced around three more squads as a backup, including Arians’ 2017 Arizona Cardinals, before arriving in Tampa.
He made $1.187 million dollars for 2020 per Over The Cap, the final year of his contract. Licht said at the victory parade on Wednesday that he wants to keep the team together. Whether or not that includes Gabbert succeeding Brady down the road remains to be seen.
“I’m not going to rule anything out right now,” Licht said per Jenkins.
How soon that would happen remains doubtful, too.
Brady committed to next season, the final year of his contract, and Arians said a contract extension for Brady wouldn’t surprise him. Brady hasn’t ruled out playing until turning 45 or older.
He doesn’t miss snaps or games, either. His last time missing a game due to injury occurred in 2008 when he tore his ACL. Brady will have minor surgery on his knee this offseason, which Arians called “a clean up” per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reported that it may be more serious according to a source of his.
Re: Brady's injured left knee, a source told me that he needs more than just a little clean-up. "When it comes out, all this does is build his legend even greater." pic.twitter.com/ri6wm3hXAF
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) February 11, 2021
No further media reports have confirmed the severity of his knee condition.
For now, Brady and company at least need a reliable backup such as Gabbert as the Bucs players and staff voiced their desire to go all-in for winning a second-straight Super Bowl in 2021.