The Tampa Bay Buccaneers desperately want to bring TB12 to FLA.
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday the long-suffering Bucs are “going all in” on attempting to sign New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who is set to hit free agency next Wednesday.
“This is not hype,” Stroud wrote. “It’s hope. This is fact, not fantasy. This is the plan. This is the Bucs’ play. … At high noon (on Monday), the legal free agency tampering period will commence and Brady’s agent, Donald Yee, will have the Bucs on call waiting.”
Signing Brady would make perfect sense for Tampa Bay, which hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2007, ranked third-to-last in the NFL in attendance this past season and has been saddled with the wildly erratic quarterback play of Jameis Winston, who tossed a league-high 30 interceptions in 2019.
The Bucs also have close to $80 million in salary cap space, meaning they easily could offer the soon-to-be 43-year-old a highly lucrative contract (with no state income tax). And they’re willing to give Brady a say in matters like roster construction and play-calling, according to a report from ESPN’s Dianna Russini.
“I talked to Tampa Bay,” Russini said Tuesday on ESPN’s “Get Up.” “They would love to have Tom Brady. They are willing to give Tom Brady the things he needs, he wants, and some of those things Brady wants — control of the roster, he wants to be part of at least making decisions on play-calling.”
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians telegraphed his team’s interest during the NFL Scouting Combine, saying Brady is a player who would make him “pick up the phone” if the QB became available.
Tampa Bay clearly is positioning itself as a major player in the Tom Brady Sweepstakes. Would Brady have any interest in playing there, though? That’s another question entirely.
Though the Bucs boast an enviable collection of pass-catchers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard and a flexible boss in Arians, their track record of mediocrity and small-market status might not appeal to a player who’s accustomed to competing for championships and has various business interests outside of football.
That uncertainty won’t dissuade Arians and the Bucs’ ownership group, though. According to Stroud’s reporting, Brady is No. 1 on their quarterback wish list, followed by Teddy Bridgewater and Philip Rivers.
“The Bucs,” Stroud wrote, “are all in on Brady.”
Brady’s representatives will be free to negotiate with any team once the NFL’s legal tampering period begins at noon ET on March 16. If he and the Patriots do not reach an agreement on a new contract by 4 p.m. ET on March 18, he will become an unrestricted free agent.