Tom Brady is retired and he isn’t coming back. It’s time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take a long hard look in the mirror and decide where they are as a franchise. This can be a difficult evaluation for a team with many free agents. However, despite some expected losses, there is every reason to believe that the Bucs will once again be one of the strongest rosters in the NFC next season.
With that said, the question at quarterback needs to be answered. Who will lead this offense in 2022? At this point it looks like it will be second year pro Kyle Trask who the Buccaneers drafted in the second round last year. That’s to say that a player with no NFL experience will be expected to lead the Bucs, not only to the playoffs, but potentially to the Super Bowl.
I’m not sure about you, but the idea of Trask as the quarterback of this team does not inspire me with confidence. It seems unrealistic to expect that he can capitalize on the short window that this roster has in front of it. Instead, bringing in a high level veteran quarterback to lead this team back to the promise land. And there is no higher level veteran said to be available than Russell Wilson.
Who Is Russell Wilson?
Wilson is a ten year NFL quarterback who has spent that entire career with the Seattle Seahawks. He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft after a decorated college career at North Carolina State and Wisconsin. Despite that, he fell in the draft due to his age, as a 24 year old rookie, and his small stature at just 5’11.
As you might expect from a player of his talent, Wilson won the starting job as a rookie. It wasn’t long before he led his team to back to back Super Bowls in his second and third seasons as a pro. A dominating 43-8 win in Super Bowl 48 is the highlight of his decorated NFL career that includes 9 pro bowls and 8 seasons of leading his teams to double digit wins.
Currently, Wilson ranks 26th all time in passing yards and 15th all time in passing touchdowns. He also ranks 4th all time in passer rating, behind just Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson. These are lofty career numbers for a player who was drafted on to a defensive centric team that prioritized running the ball and controlling the clock when he first arrived in Seattle.
What Does Wilson Do well?
Wilson shines in many areas. The first that has to be talked about is his ability to throw the ball down field. In terms of throwing the deep ball, there are not many, if any, who do it as well as Wilson. His touch on the ball as well as arm strength are both well above average. This would be more evident than ever in Tampa Bay; playing in the Bruce Arians offense in what would likely be the best group of pass catchers he has ever had to work with in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (who is expected to be resigned).
In addition to how well he throws the ball down field, Wilson is also very efficient with the ball. He has had seasons of single digit interceptions in 6 of his 10 seasons and has never had more than 13. He protects the ball extremely well for someone who pushes the ball down field the way he does. It is not a stretch to say that Wilson would likely be a more efficient quarterback for the Buccaneers than even Tom Brady was in his time in Tampa Bay.
Finally there is the matter of Wilson’s mobility. In terms of being able to scramble or have running plays designed around the quarterback, Wilson brings more than any Bucs quarterback in my lifetime. He has rushed for 500+ yards in half of his seasons in the NFL and for 300+ yards in 8 of his 10 years. This will only expand the Bucs playbook and diversify what they can do as an offense.
What’s The Catch?
With anything quality there is always a high price attached. Wilson is under contract for two more years and would be a free agent again in 2024 when he turns 35. Over the next two years he will have a cap hit of $37 million and $40 million. That is a big chunk of change for a team who is having to pay some of their key young free agents in the coming years.
On top of the dollars and cents price tag with Wilson, there is also the matter of what it would take to acquire him. It is safe to say that multiple 1st round picks would be the starting point in any trade for Wilson. Matthew Stafford, a quarterback who was less accomplished, was traded for two 1st round picks and a 3rd round pick last year. The price would likely be higher to bring Wilson to Tampa Bay.
Just like when the Buccaneers signed Brady, there is a certain level of risk to bringing in a star quarterback. The cost to get one of these guys is high, both financially and in terms of the opportunity cost of what else they could devote their resources to. However, the return is also high.
If the Bucs are serious about winning another Super Bowl with the current core then trading for Wilson makes the most sense. He is a future Hall of Fame quarterback who is still in his prime years. On top of that, he is a great fit for what the Buccaneers want to do with their offense. This move would be both bold and wise from a team who has all the other pieces in place to win right now.