March 20th 2020 will go down as one of the biggest dates in Tampa Bay Buccaneer history. The signing of Tom Brady, to me is the biggest free agent signing league wide since Peyton Manning signed with Denver in 2012. Regardless of the near future this is a huge win for the lowly Buccaneer franchise.
After signing in 2012, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl win. During his time in Denver, Manning performed at an elite level for roughly three seasons before playing so poorly that he got benched before returning and leading the Broncos to a victory in Super Bowl 50.
With the signing of Brady the Buccaneers front office clearly think this team was a quarterback away from contending. Former starting quarterback Jameis Winston threw for a career high in all major passing statistics last season. While throwing for a league high in yards with 5,109 and second in touchdown passes with 33. He also threw for a league leading 30 interceptions. The variance in his performance is the key indicator of why head Coach Bruce Arians decided to move on from him.
Tom Brady has been one of the most decorated players in all of sports. He brings a winning culture to a franchise with the lowest winning percentage in all four major sports. I can see how Coach Arians and general manager Jason Licht can see the intrigue in replacing Winston with the GOAT. I can also see how short sighted this moves can easily become once the NFL season gets going. Manning played at an All-Pro level in his first season in Denver. He followed that by winning his fifth MVP in his second season in Denver. Tom Brady will be 5 years older than Manning was in his final MVP season. Brady has beaten the odds since his name was called during the 2000 NFL Draft. To see him win a Super Bowl with a new team in the next two years would beat anything he’s accomplished thus far.
Unlike Manning, he’s not coming to a team with a defense as highly regarded and battle tested like Denver had. He does have the most talented wide receiver since Hall of Famer Randy Moss, in Mike Evans. He has great young offensive weapons in Tampa. Chris Godwin played at a Pro Bowl level last season and will be excited to catch footballs from the best ever. Tom has historically loved throwing to his tight ends and he has arguably the top receiving duo in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Brady will surely take care of the ball much better. Decision making g won’t be an issue with Tom Brady and will surely lead to more victories. Protection will be the key to a long season for the Buccaneers.
Offensive Line Issues?
His starting left tackle this upcoming season looks to be the highly paid but easily beaten Donovan Smith. Since entering the league he has never been to a pro bowl or consistently protected any quarterback in pewter and red. I have watched every snap of his and I have been critical of his performances since he came into the league. He has always seemed like a player that has potential and the god given talent to be a high end tackle in the NFL. He just has never been a consistent player in Tampa Bay. The same can be said about a ton of recent draft picks for the Buccaneers. This line has one solid player in left guard Ali Marpet, who was also beat on occasion this past season.
Brady has won six Super Bowls and has won 30 career playoff games. The entire Buccaneers franchise has appeared in 15 total playoff games, winning only six. Bruce Arians is highly respected around the league but has never won the Super Bowl as Head Coach. The Buccaneers haven’t won a playoff game since winning the Super Bowl in the 2002 season. Winning a championship for this franchise is equivalent to LeBron James leading the 3-1 comeback and beating the 73-9 Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. To expect a 43 year old human to come in and win within a two year contract is borderline insane. Expecting Jameis Winston to lead this team to a playoff spot could have been just as insane, but arguably more reasonable.
Worst Case Scenario
Imagine a world where Tom Brady can’t lead this franchise full of short comings to a deep playoff run and/or Super Bowl victory in the next two years. Also imagine that Brady decides to retire and Bruce Arians follows. That would leave the Buccaneers where they have been the past ten plus years. Without a franchise quarterback and a quality head coach.
With a soon to be 43 year old quarterback, and a head coach turning 68 years old this season, the clock is ticking. No risk it no biscuit has taken a while new meaning in Tampa Bay, and the stakes have never been higher. Brady has accomplished so many incredible feats in his 19 seasons, lets see if he has room for a couple more in Tampa Bay.