Skip to main content

NFL insider says Tampa Bay Buccaneers to pursue veteran QB, identifies top target

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went all-in with Tom Brady for three seasons, building one of the best rosters in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl. As Brady enjoys retirement, Tampa Bay is putting together new plans to remain a contender with its next quarterback.

Tampa Bay knew this day was coming. It signed its biggest stars, including Brady, to contracts that left sizable cap hits to deal with in the future. While it’s a worthwhile price for a franchise that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, the Buccaneers will now feel the effects of their moves in 2023.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft order

Brady’s retirement left a $35 million cap hit on the Buccaneers’ payroll for the 2023 season. While Tampa Bay would have the option of spreading that out over multiple years, it will reportedly absorb the entire cap charge this season.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers cap space (OTC): -$55 million

Sitting more than $50 million above the 2023 NFL salary cap, the Buccaneers can’t pursue a high-end starter either via trade or free agency. As a result, top options like Aaron Rodgers, Daniel Jones, Lamar Jackson and Geno Smith are out of consideration.

Related: Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Kyle Trask struggled with the playbook

Appearing on NFL Total Access, Mike Garafolo provided insight on the Buccaneers’ approach this offseason. Tampa Bay will be in the market for a proven starter, with Garoppolo seemingly among their top targets.

“The plan for Tampa Bay is to retool while still competing, this has been the plan for a couple of years. They will be in the veteran quarterback market, Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the players they like, but they just may not have the finances to get it done.”

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo on Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback situation, interet in Jimmy Garoppolo

Garoppolo, turning 32 years old in November, would provide stability at quarterback for the Buccaneers. A quick-hitting passing attack could fit nicely for an offense with Chris Godwin, Cade Otton and an offensive line that should be much-improved in 2023.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo stats (2022): 103 QB rating, 67.2% completion rate, 16-4 TD-INT

The current state of the NFC South offers credibility to the Buccaneers’ plans to remain contenders next season. All four teams in the division are in the quarterback market this spring and Tampa. Bay’s roster is arguably the best in the division as of now.

Depending on the contract Garoppolo is seeking, Tampa Bay might be his best option. The Buccaneers could guarantee him a starting job unquestioned in an offense that boasts quality talent around him on a team that could win its division. While Garoppolo would lower the Buccaneers’ ceiling in 2023, they could still be fairly competitive as they slowly try and work their way back from going all-in with Brady.