The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will probably need a new quarterback in 2019. Head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t seem too enthused with incumbent Jameis Winston, and Winston clearly doesn’t want to take a discount. With several solid quarterback options in both free agency and the draft, let’s take a look at who might be under center in 2020 and beyond.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Options Outside of Jameis Winston
1. Tom Brady
This is the best-case scenario for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady may have taken a small step back from his past greatness, but most of his statistical decline in 2019 had to do with one of the worst supporting casts in football. According to the Pro Football Focus 2020 Quarterback Annual, Brady was the third-best quarterback in Accuracy+, which means he’s still one of the best in a neutral environment.
The trio of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and O.J. Howard should be enough to bring Brady back to the top of the statistical leaderboards. Bruce Arians is one of the best offensive coaches in the league and should be able to bring out the best in Brady. With a truly elite quarterback leading the charge, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should return to the playoffs for the first time in forever and could even make a deep playoff push.
2. Ryan Tannehill
A lot of things would need to happen for Ryan Tannehill to end up in Tampa Bay next year. Assuming the Titans actually let him go, however, he’d be the best non-Brady option available on the market. Tannehill was legitimately fantastic last year, ending the season ranked 9th in QBR, 5th in DVOA, and 3rd in PFF grade. While he’ll probably come back to Earth in 2020, he’s still an average to above-average quarterback when healthy. He takes good care of the football and should give the Buccaneers a better chance to win than Winston.
3. Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers will not return to the Chargers in 2019, and all early indications make it sound like he’ll be on the Colts in 2020. However, the Buccaneers could consider making a late push for the longtime NFL veteran. Even though he took a noticeable step back last year, he still could succeed in a favorable situation. While he doesn’t have the same upside as a guy like Brady, he could keep the team afloat by minimizing mistakes. Tampa Bay won seven games last year despite Jameis Winston throwing 30 interceptions; it stands to reason that the win total could jump to 10 or 11 with a safer quarterback under center.
4. Teddy Bridgewater
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We’ll find out if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign Teddy Bridgewater to be their next starting quarterback. Bridgewater is essentially the second-coming of Alex Smith in that he refuses to ever push the ball downfield. This stands in direct contract to Arians’ preferred downfield attack. Something’s going to have to give, and watching these two try to create an offense would be fun, if nothing else.
5. Cam Newton
If Cam Newton is healthy, he’s a considerable upgrade on Jameis Winston. However, that’s a big “if”. The former first-overall pick missed the vast majority of the past two seasons nursing a vast assortment of injuries. He played hurt in 2016 and 2017 and may no longer have his old magic left in the tank. Considering the Buccaneers would have to trade for Newton’s services, it’s probably best if they look for a quarterback with a safer floor.
2020 NFL Draft Prospects
1. Justin Herbert [Scouting Report]
None of the aforementioned quarterbacks are a long-term fix at the position, so the Buccaneers should still try to draft a quarterback of the future. The Bucs probably won’t have the opportunity to get guys like Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, so they might have to settle for Justin Herbert. Herbert has one of the most beautiful arms you’ll ever see, but the decision-making isn’t always there. He can stand up to pressure and is considerably better at pushing the ball downfield compared to taking the underneath option. The Buccaneers will probably have to trade up to get him, but he should be a decent starter, if nothing else.
2. Jordan Love [Scouting Report]
Drafting Jordan Love would essentially be replacing Jameis Winston with Jameis Winston. The Utah State product is one of the most volatile quarterbacks in the nation, capable of making some of the best and worst throws you’ll ever see, sometimes on the same drive. In fairness to Love, the Junior lost his coaching staff and a series of playmakers last season, so some regression was expected. However, the fact remains that he’s anything but a sure thing under center, and spending a year or two behind an established veteran probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him.
3. Jalen Hurts [Scouting Report]
Jalen Hurts is no Lamar Jackson, but he could succeed in a similar offense. The Alabama product has some of the best legs among draft-eligible quarterbacks and he generally takes care of the football. His ability to extend plays is second to none and his rushing ability creates open throwing lanes. The biggest problem with Hurts is that he’s not the most accurate quarterback and tends to bail out and scramble if his first read isn’t there. Like Love, he could use a season or two to develop on the bench.
4. Jacob Eason [Scouting Report]
Personally, I am not a fan of Jacob Eason. The Washington product definitely has moments of glory on tape, but the production is far too inconsistent for my liking. He’s one of the worst in college against pressure and often senses phantom blitzers and leaves clean pockets. He struggles to read a defense and didn’t play his best against top competition. However, he’s got an absolute cannon for an arm and can make elite NFL throws, albeit not on a consistent basis. If Arians thinks he can fix all of his flaws, he could be a decent developmental second-round pick.
5. Jake Fromm [Scouting Report]
Jake Fromm has the intelligence to succeed in a specific system, but that system probably isn’t in Tampa Bay. The Georgia product excels at reading defenses but doesn’t have the strongest arm and struggles to move the ball downfield. This is an obvious problem for anyone playing in Arians’ system, so the Buccaneers are probably better off looking for somebody else here.
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