If Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady played his final game, he went out with a fine in addition to a blowout loss.
The NFL fined Brady $16,444 for when he tried to trip Dallas Cowboys safety Malik Hooker during a 31-14 loss on January 16 according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Bucs center Ryan Jensen also got “fined $8,333.33 for unnecessary roughness on the same play”, Rapoport wrote.
Those incidents occurred during a play where Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin fumbled, and Hooker recovered the ball. Godwin’s fumble notably got overturned.
While two Bucs got handed fines on that play, Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson didn’t receive a flag or a fine for a direct hit to the back of Bucs wide receiver Russell Gage‘s neck. Gage laid on the field afterward the catch attempt, and medical personnel took him to a Tampa area hospital for treatment overnight. Gage went home from the hospital on January 17.
Overall, things didn’t work in the Bucs’ favor as an 8-10 season ended with a thud. It commenced an offseason of wild uncertainty with Brady’s future unknown, droves of free agents to re-sign, and $55.9 million over the salary according to Spotrac.
Todd Bowles Nixes Rebuild Plans but Overhauls Coaching Staff
Bucs head coach Todd Bowles, albeit publicly, won’t accept rebuilding as an option for the team going into 2023 — with or without Brady.
“Never rebuild. You always reload,” Bowles told reporters after the January 16 loss. “You feel like you have a chance to win every year. You’ve just got to tweak some things from a schematic standpoint all the way around — offense, defense and special teams. Obviously, no one ever comes back with every player on the team, so we’ll have some new faces in here. That’s just part of the game.”
The Bucs could lose all sorts of key players from the recent Super Bowl run with long-term players such as Lavonte David, Will Gholston, and Cameron Brate headed for free agency. Overall, the Bucs have 27 players slated as unrestricted free agents come March 15.
While Bowles stuck with the reload concept amid those roster challenges, he overhauled the coaching staff later that week. The Bucs fired six assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, and another three retired.
“We appreciate the hard work and contributions that all of these coaches made to our successes over the past four seasons,” Bowles said in a statement via Buccaneers.com. “As a collective group, we did not meet the high standards that had been set for this past year and my focus now is on doing what is needed to ensure a successful 2023 season. These were very difficult decisions but something that I felt was necessary for our football team going forward.”
Regardless of how many players the Bucs retain, the major coaching staff changes will require significant adjustments for the team in 2023.
Bucs Defense in Peril With Free Agency
While Bowles made most of the coaching changes on the offensive side of the ball, the defense could face far more changes on the field than the sideline.
The Bucs could lose starting caliber players in David, Gholston, Jamel Dean, Akiem Hicks, Logan Ryan, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Mike Edwards. In addition, Anthony Nelson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Keanu Neal, Carl Nassib, Pat O’Connor, Dee Delaney, Genard Avery, and Deadrin Senat could find new homes.