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Aaron Rodgers to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: How it might look

Matt Johnson

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers struck gold in 2020, landing quarterback Tom Brady to turn the franchise into a powerhouse. With the greatest player in NFL history retired, Tampa Bay could explore replacing him with Aaron Rodgers.

Going from one Hall of Fame quarterback to another is incredibly rare. It would also be costly for Tampa Bay, coming with a price tag the franchise didn’t have to pay for Brady in free agency. But this team is in win-now mode and there’s no better passer available this offseason than the reigning NFL MVP.

If Rodgers requests a trade, the Green Bay Packers will enter rebuilding mode. While they might prefer not to face their legendary quarterback in 2022, the bigger priority is finding a deal. If an aggressive Buccaneers’ front office is one of the few willing to offer a ton of draft capital, a trade is at least possible.

  • Aaron Rodgers stats (2020-’21): 8,414 passing yards, 85-9 TD-INT ratio, 116.7 QB rating. 69.8 completion rate

Acquiring Rodgers won’t be easy. The Buccaneers’ cap space is already limited and there are important free agents they need to re-sign. But everyone witnessed the impact a top quarterback can make for Tampa Bay and with Bruce Arians determined to keep winning, there’s no reason for the organization to not pursue the best talent.

Related: Aaron Rodgers wants to play with two Packers’ teammates in 2022

How the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would create cap space

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

According to Over the Cap, the Buccaneers have just $11.1 million in cap space heading into the offseason. It’s not remotely enough to acquire Rodgers and even falls short of the financial flexibility to sign top free agents. But there is some wiggle room, especially with Brady’s help.

Following in the footsteps of the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees, Tampa Bay can contractually handle Brady’s retirement after June 1. It begins with reducing his 2022 base salary ($8.925 million) to the $1.12 veteran minimum. Once he is cleared off the roster, Tampa Bay creates $12.27 million in cap space and there’s even more room if Brady gives back some of his signing bonus.

Related: Potential 2022 Aaron Rodgers trade destinations

After that, the Buccaneers can approach key veterans about contract restructures. Mike Evans ($9.6 million savings), Shaquil Barrett ($11.16 million savings) and Ali Marper ($6.6 million maximum savings) would all be potential candidates for restructured contracts. A Devin White extension is also an avenue to creating cap space.

We’ve already seen plenty of Buccaneers’ players love playing in Florida, adore the coaching staff and are willing to take short-term financial hits to compete for a Super Bowl. If there is a belief that Rodgers comes to Tampa Bay, that could happen again.

What would an Aaron Rodgers trade cost the Buccaneers?

NFL: NFC Championship Game-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers
Dan Powers / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

If Rodgers wants out of Green Bay, he is unquestionably the best quarterback available this offseason. The knocks on his playoff resume are fair. But no passer on the trade market would give the Buccaneers a better chance to win a Super Bowl than the MVP winner.

We’ve seen the Buccaneers have no problem sacrificing the future to win now. Arians is in his final years as a head coach and Jason Licht could easily walk away if he wins a third Super Bowl. With that in mind and largely competing with the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay could build its offer around future picks.

  • Green Bay Packers trade: Aaron Rodgers
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade: 2022 TB 1st, 2023 TB 2nd, 2024 TB 1st and 2nd, CB Sean Murphy-Bunting

There is a significant value difference between the 2022 first-round pick Denver can offer (9th overall) compared to Tampa Bay (27th pick). So, the Buccaneers’ offer is built around 2024 picks. By then, Rodgers will have likely played his last snap in Florida and the organization will have torn everything down. As a result, the 2024 first- and second-round picks offer a lot more value.

Green Bay could also add Sean Murphy-Bunting to its defense. A 2019 second-round pick, he struggled for a majority of the 2021 season (112.2 QB rating allowed when targeted). But we’ve seen the Packers salvage young cornerbacks before and if they unlock Murphy-Bunting’s potential, they will have a phenomenal trio of cornerbacks to lead a strong defense into the future.

Rodgers certainly isn’t the most realistic option, he’s far likelier to stick around with Green Bay for another season. But if he decides a change of scenery is necessary, you can bet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make a call. If they can’t land him, then Licht and Arians can try for Derek Carr or roll the dice on a free-agent quarterback.