Tom Brady retires: What’s next for Buccaneers after legendary QB says farewell, top options to fill position

Tom Brady retires: What’s next for Buccaneers after legendary QB says farewell, top options to fill position

Less than a year after signing with them, Tom Brady helped take the Buccaneers from mediocrity to NFL champions. Now that Brady has officially retired, Tampa Bay once again finds itself looking for someone to fill the most important position in the sport.

It’s incredibly overblown to think the next Buccaneers quarterback will have the same impact as Brady. The Buccaneers surely know this, but that doesn’t mean Tampa won’t try to find the best person available to succeed the seven-time Super Bowl champion, who in just three seasons has added to his long list of career goals by becoming the best quarterback in Buccaneers history.

Blaine Gabbert and 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask are the two remaining quarterbacks on the Buccaneers roster. Gabbert, 33, is a journeyman who was good enough to beat Trask for No. 2 on the depth chart last year. Although Gabbert is a solid player, the fact that Trask couldn’t supplant him on the depth chart is not a promising sign.

Gabbert is set to be a free agent, but given his affordability and Todd Bowles’ sparkling praise for him, it seems very likely the Buccaneers will re-sign him. Trask will likely be back too, given he has two years left on his rookie contract.

With two quarterbacks already in tow, Tampa Bay will likely acquire two more quarterbacks. The team could sign a “camp arm” and someone who will compete to be the starting quarterback. But the more likely scenario is for Tampa Bay to draft a quarterback and sign a veteran to compete for the starting job.

The Buccaneers have a plan to replace a Hall of Fame quarterback if they choose to emulate what the Steelers did last year to find Ben Roethlisberger’s successor. Although not without a few speed bumps, Pittsburgh eventually found Roethlisberger’s successor in 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett, while finding a more-than-capable replacement in free agent signee Mitch Trubisky.

Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater and Jimmy Garoppolo headline the list of possible options in free agency. Acquiring any of the above players would give the Buccaneers a proven veteran who would at least provide competition for Gabbert and Trask. As Trubisky did for the Steelers, a veteran quarterback could also serve as a temporary placeholder.

As for the 2023 NFL Draft, Tampa Bay is expected to use the 19th overall pick on a position other than quarterback — three of CBS Sports’ draft experts have him using a pick on a safety. Don’t expect the Buccaneers to take a first-round quarterback unless Florida’s Anthony Richardson comes down on them.

That brings us to Day 2 of the draft, where the Buccaneers — owners of the 50th and 82nd overall picks — will likely add a fourth quarterback into the mix. The problem, however, is that there’s only one quarterback that should be picked for Day 2: Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker.

Hooker, who finished fifth in last year’s Heisman Trophy voting, is currently named CBS Sports’ 71st top draft prospect, meaning the Buccaneers selecting him with the 50th pick would technically be a reach. It’s a reach, however, the Buccaneers will likely do to ensure they get the best quarterback, who will likely still be available at this point in the draft.

There’s another, splashier route the Buccaneers could take: acquiring Derek Carr, who was just added to the AFC Pro Bowl squad despite being benched in his final year with the Raiders. In theory, Carr and the Buccaneers are the perfect match. They need a quarterback, and Carr is surely motivated to show he’s still a top quarterback who can help a team win a championship.

In Carr, the Buccaneers would receive a still relatively young 31-year-old who has shown he is capable of leading a team to the playoffs. There are a few hurdles here: Carr is still under contract and, given that he will be the best quarterback available, there will likely be competition for his services. The Buccaneers’ best bet here is for Carr to be waived and choose to become Brady’s successor. Carr doesn’t seem one to back down from a challenge, so the prospect of that happening isn’t out of the question.

Brady’s retirement officially marks the end of a short but glorious era in Buccaneers history. But while Brady is gone, the franchise still has a strong roster that includes players who helped it climb to the top of the mountain just two years ago. There’s work to be done, but the Buccaneers can become a title contender again, especially if they handle their new quarterback situation properly.

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