Bucs Training Camp Battle: Backing Up Tom Brady

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The Bucs starting quarterback position is every word that equates to solidified as the team heads into training camp. I mean, Tom Brady is at the helm. No one is taking his job unless something catastrophic happens.

But it’s a bit of a different situation when it comes to the second- and third-string spots. The Bucs have a trio in second-round rookie Kyle Trask along with veterans Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin battling it out for the chance to back up Brady.

It’s extremely unlikely that the Bucs carry four quarterbacks on the active roster after training camp, so one of those guys will need to have their best camp if they want to stay on the 53.

Trask’s lack of experience sets him back, but the coaches really liked what he did during OTAs and both minicamps

Trask will have a lot of ground to make up when the Bucs start training camp. Gabbert has multiple years of experience -as well as five starts- in Bruce Arians’ system. Griffin is entering his third season and saw his first-ever game action back in 2019.

But Trask has impressed the coaches so far. Arians has compared Trask to Andrew Luck and both offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen have spoken highly of the rookie.

“Trask has been doing an excellent job here. He’s had a great three weeks, been doing great and [he’s] been getting better every day,” Leftwich said during OTAs in June. “He’s a smart kid that knows what he’s doing, he just has to get more reps. The more repetitions he gets, the better he will get. But I like where he’s at and he’s doing a lot of good stuff right now. He sees the field well and he’s able to command the huddle. He’s had a good start since he’s been here and hopefully we can keep it up.”

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It’s one thing to be there mentally, but Trask has to show the Bucs that he can apply what he’s learned on the field during training camp. If he can’t do that then it’s fair to say both Gabbert and Griffin could beat him out for both backup spots.

Will Gabbert’s 2021 contract have any effect on the situation?

The Bucs gave Gabbert a raise in 2021, nearly doubling what he made in 2020. In other words, Gabbert made close to an extra $500k per touchdown he threw last year.

The Gabberts thank you mightily, Detroit.

But in all seriousness, $2 million is a decent sum to pay a to backup. The contract is reportedly worth $2.5 million total, so Gabbert has a chance to make even more. If he hits his mark of $2.5 million, it would make him the 18th-highest paid quarterback in the NFL, per Spotrac.com. Per OTC, $1.5 million of Gabbert’s contract is guaranteed.

Gabbert is also an Arians guy. BA doesn’t play favorites, but he certainly has a deeper relationship with some players. Think A.Q. Shipley, T.J. Logan, Kevin Minter, etc. That goes a long way on this team.

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Bruce Arians loves him some Blaine Gabbert. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Will this have an effect on the battle at backup quarterback? You’d like to think that it wouldn’t; that the best player will win the job. But it could very well give Gabbert a slight advantage that helps him secure his roster spot.

The case for each player before the Bucs open up training camp

Gabbert: He has plenty of experience in the system and more importantly has starting experience. He also started 48 games over the course of his career, so he knows NFL defenses. Gabbert still has a great arm and is more mobile than people realize. He’s also a big guy who can stand in the pocket and take hits.

Griffin: Experience and knowing the playbook is Griffin’s advantage. He also has a good arm and decent mobility. Griffin’s accuracy is arguably better than Gabbert’s, too, so that could come in handy during training camp.

Trask: As the coaches have said, Trask has a “clean slate” entering Bucs training camp. The entire staff and Jason Licht have spoken highly of his ability to process, which is the most important trait a quarterback can have. Trask has a good arm, decent mobility, and is accurate. If he can show that he’s applying what he’s learned on the field, then he could easily win the backup spot.

The Bucs -and their fans- just need to pray Brady stays healthy

This is the most important thing. There are big-time questions surrounding all three backup candidates even if they are capable of playing in the NFL. There’s a 100% guarantee that the offense will take a step back if Brady goes down.

So, light your candles. Recite your passages. Because it’s like what Tom Moore said about the Colts if Peyton Manning were to go down with an injury.

The Bucs “are f***ed” if Brady goes down.

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