Could the answer to making the Tampa Bay Buccaneers relevant again be luring Tom Brady in free agency?
The 42-year-old quarterback is able to become an unrestricted free agent March 18 when the market opens. Brady has played his entire 20-year career with the New England Patriots and has never hit free agency. If he does become available, several teams reportedly could show interest in signing him.
One potential landing spot is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times wrote a piece Wednesday explaining "The Bucs are going all in on Tom Brady."
If we reach the legal free-agent tampering period Monday at noon and Brady is behind Door No. 2, Bruce Arians and the Glazer family will try to kick that sucker down for Touchdown Tommy.
TB12 for TB’20.
This is not hype. It’s hope. This is fact, not fantasy. This is the plan. This is the Bucs’ play.
It makes sense for the Buccaneers to be aggressive in their pursuit of Brady. They need an upgrade at quarterback after seeing Jameis Winston throw a league-leading 30 (!) interceptions last season. It's very difficult to win without a top-tier quarterback -- of the last seven Super Bowl championships, six were won by Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Brady.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians didn't even shy away from mentioning Brady when asked about free agent quarterbacks at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine a few weeks ago.
Asked for examples of NFL quarterbacks he'd pick up the phone for in free agency, Bruce Arians said "Tom Brady. Philip (Rivers) is another guy. We'll see."— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
The best decision for Brady is staying put in New England, where's he won six championships and will forever be a beloved sports figure. The Patriots would still be among the top contenders in the AFC if he returns, and with a few upgrades at wide receiver and the offensive line, it's not inconceivable to imagine this team returning to the Super Bowl. New England's defense also ranked at, or near the top of the league in many statistical categories last season, and this unit should again be very good in 2020.
The Buccaneers just aren't a good team. The defense is not impressive (third-most points allowed last season), and Tampa Bay's rushing attack gained only 3.7 yards per carry (tied for the third-lowest in the league). If Brady wants to win championships in the last chapter of his career -- and we know he's as competitive as any athlete in recent memory -- the Buccaneers are not the best team for him.
It sure sounds like the Buccaneers will make a strong effort to sign Brady, though, and who can blame them?