Buccaneers’ Cap-Strapped Situation Might Limit QB Options


As you know, Tom Brady retired, leaving a gaping hole at quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – albeit one that was expected to appear sooner than later.

As you also probably know by now, Tom Brady officially filed his retirement papers with the league last Friday.  That might have been a bit surprising to some, as there was a hope that he might hold off on filing that until June to help the Bucs’ cap situation.

But that didn’t happen…

Welcome to true cap hell, Buccaneers’ fans

And the result of that means that, as Auman notes, the Bucs will take Brady’s full $35 million cap hit in 2023.  There was optimism that the Bucs might have been looking at a $24 million savings through a deferred retirement, reducing the Bucs’ cap overage from over $55 million to around $31 million.  That would have opened up options to get under the number while retaining free agents and adding talent in key areas.

That just got a lot tougher to do, thanks to Brady’s formal retirement.

Say adios to Derek Carr

It means my prior stance on Derek Carr being a top two option for this team is likely out the window.  Carr reportedly rejected a trade to New Orleans (he has a no trade clause), which means the Raiders will have to release him by Wednesday or his salary will become fully guaranteed.  That ain’t happening, so the Raiders will have no choice to release him.

That means there will be a bidding war among teams to land Carr, which will make it difficult for either the Bucs or the Saints ($60 million over cap) to put up a top-notch free agent offer for the veteran signal caller.  If Carr is looking for a good landing spot to come in and win quickly, the Bucs have to be near the top of the list, but it’s hard to see Tampa Bay being able to money whip Carr in the case the bidding gets high.  And, unfortunately, it probably will.  Vaya con Dios, Derek.

Jimmy Garoppolo drawing Buccaneers’ interest, but is such a match possible?

As we noted earlier today, the Buccaneers are reportedly going to kick the tires on Jimmy Garoppolo, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

And I can’t blame them.  I listed Jimmy G as my favorite veteran QB option along with Carr recently, as both are likely the two most accomplished free agent QBs on the market this year.  Garoppolo was one overthrow away from being a Super Bowl champion himself just three years ago.

But again, there are enough QB-hungry teams in far better cap situations than Tampa Bay that can offer him much more competitive financial offers.  So that’s going to be hard to overcome.

All aboard…the Brissett Bus (?)

I had initially dismissed Jacoby Brissett and Baker Mayfield as true free agent options…but an old friend made a pretty decent argument about the former.

Former Bucs Report writer and current managing editor of A to Z sports Evan Winter noted that, perhaps, folks are sleeping on how successful Brissett has been this year:

Overall, Brissett had a solid season as the Browns’ starting quarterback. His stats didn’t blow anyone out of the water, but he proved that he can play at an effective enough level to win games.
Per Pro Football Focus, Brissett graded out as the ninth-best passer among all QBs with at least 166 dropbacks through the first 12 weeks of the season. As it turns out, Brady graded out as the eighth-best passer.
Brady dropped back to pass 131 more times than Brissett. Yet, Brady threw just four more touchdowns (16) than Brissett (12). Brissett’s aDOT was higher (9.4 to 7.6) and he averaged more yards per pass attempt than Brady (7.1 to 6.4). He also finished right behind Brady in terms of adjusted completion percentage (74.9% to 75.1%) and big-time throw rate (4.5% to 4.7%). Meaning, Brissett was throwing the ball further down the field than Brady, yet, he was still able to post similar numbers on a much smaller scale.

I agree with Evan that Brissett did put forth a solid statistical performance this past year.  In fact, the Browns offense looked better with him under center than Deshaun Watson at the end of the year.  And hey, he did beat the Bucs back in November.  He’d also likely be within the Bucs’ potential cap-strapped price range.

But the Browns’ and Bucs’ offenses are totally different.  The Browns have a massive, physical offensive line and a very effective ground game, which takes a lot of pressure off of the passing game/QB.  Put Brissett behind whatever we saw from the Buccaneers’ offensive line for much of 2022, and it’s hard to see the same kind of success he saw in Cleveland.  Upgrading their LG spot and getting better LT play (through Donovan Smith or otherwise), and having a far more successful ground game are key to putting a player like Brissett in position to succeed in Tampa Bay.

If Jason Licht can improve this line and running game through free agency and/or the draft, then I’ll be much more open to buying a ticket for a 2023 trip on the Brissett bus.

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