For the first time in his storied career, Tom Brady is set to hit the open market. Even though he showed signs of slowing down in 2019, the six-time Super Bowl champion is still capable of playing at an incredibly high level. Several quarterback-needy teams would be thrilled to have his services, but one team stands out above the rest. If Brady actually leaves the Patriots, then the best landing spot is easily the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As of this posting, nobody knows what the Buccaneers are going to do with Jameis Winston. Head coach Bruce Arians has openly stated that he believes he can win without Winston, and Winston reportedly wants a long-term, top dollar deal. With a break up possibly on the way, Tampa Bay should look into pursuing Brady if he actually hits free agency.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers An Ideal Pairing
From a statistical standpoint, Tom Brady had one of the worst years of his career in 2019. According to Football Outsiders, Brady ended the year ranked 16th in DYAR, 17th in DVOA, and 17th in QBR. When taking into account Brady’s age, one could reasonably conclude that the end is near for the all-time great quarterback.
However, further analysis shows that most of the blame for Brady’s underwhelming season rests at the feet of an underwhelming supporting cast. The Patriots didn’t bring in anyone to replace Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman was the only reliable weapon in the passing game. According to PFF’s Sam Munson, “[t]he three highest PFF receiving grades on the Patriots roster came from Antonio Brown (who lasted one game), James White (a running back), and Elandon Roberts (a linebacker turned emergency fullback who had one catch)”. This isn’t to say that Brady is the same guy he was in 2016 – he’s not – but he can still play like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Brady would immediately be a top-five quarterback if placed in Tampa Bay. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin form the best wide receiver duo in football and would be Brady’s best receivers since Randy Moss. O.J. Howard is no Rob Gronkowski, but he still has the potential to be one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the league. Brady might not have another 50-touchdown season in him, but he should be dramatically more efficient than he was in 2019.
Tom Brady and The Coaching
Bruce Arians is no Bill Belichick, but he’s still one of the best coaches in the league. The offensive mastermind consistently brings out the best in his teams, despite not always having elite talent. Arians nearly brought Tampa Bay to the playoffs during his first year running the show, and his teams historically get better the longer Arians sticks around.
Arians knows how to win, and he also knows how to bring out the best in his quarterbacks. Despite all the turnovers, one could argue that 2019 was the best season of Winston’s young career. Additionally, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, and Ben Roethlisberger all had the best years of their respective careers when Arians was calling the shots.
Quarterbacks typically need a year to adjust to Arians’ way of the calling the games. However, one could easily reason that Brady is the exception to this rule. The six-time Super Bowl champion is the greatest quarterback to ever walk the Earth and arguably the smartest to ever play the position. He understands every coverage imaginable and always knows where to go with the football. He should hit the ground running, and combining Brady and Arians should put the Buccaneers into the playoff picture.
The Salary Cap
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a ridiculous amount of available cap space. According to Spotrac, Tampa Bay currently has just under $85 million in available spending. Signing Brady would obviously eat into that space, but they’d still have plenty of money to fix the remaining holes in their team. Brady’s going to want to play for a contender, and the Buccaneers have the resources to transform into a legitimate playoff threat in 2020.
Tampa Bay doesn’t have the best offensive line in the world, but they could easily fix it by signing Brady’s former teammate, Joe Thuney. Thuney is one of the best guards in the league and should be enough to provide a serviceable offensive line. With Evans and Godwin as targets, all Brady needs is average protection.
The Buccaneers have a solid run defense, but they need to improve their secondary. Fortunately, Byron Jones and Chris Harris are set to be free agents. As of this posting, it looks like both players are going to reach the open market in the coming weeks. Jones should be the priority, but both players should immediately bolster the secondary.
If the Buccaneers want to ease Brady’s transition to Tampa, they can sign old friend Danny Amendola. Amendola shouldn’t cost too much and has an established rapport with the soon-to-be 43-year old. The Buccaneers aren’t far away from being legitimate contenders, and signing Tom Brady could be the key to making a deep playoff run and even a push for the Super Bowl.
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