Tom Brady Rumors: Bucs a 'Sleeping Giant' in Free Agency for Patriots QB

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2020

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks to pass in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Gary Landers/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly could be a team to watch in the sweepstakes to sign free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason.

Appearing on WEEI's Dale & Keefe on Thursday, Peter King of NBC Sports expressed his belief that the Bucs could go after Brady in free agency:

"The one that I believe is the sleeping giant in this is Tampa Bay. And when I say that, if Jameis Winston is realistic with what his contract demands/requests, whatever are, in my opinion he will be the quarterback of the Bucs next year. But, I don't know that. I am hearing some things out of Tampa that he might be, and his agents might want a little bit more money than the Bucs want to pay. And we'll see if that pans out. We'll definitely see."

Like Brady, Winston is set to hit free agency this offseason, but the Bucs and head coach Bruce Arians could opt to move on after he threw an NFL-high 30 interceptions in 2019.

While the 26-year-old Winston was mistake-prone this season, he led the NFL with 626 pass attempts and 5,109 passing yards and threw for a career-high 33 touchdowns, which speaks to the type of passing volume present in Arians' offense.

The Buccaneers are also stacked with skill-position talent, which could make Tampa Bay an attractive landing spot for Brady. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin might be the NFL's best receiving tandem, and the Bucs also have tight end O.J. Howard and running back Ronald Jones.

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King feels the prospect of working with Arians could be a draw for Brady as well:

"Look, they have a pretty good offensive line and they've got two excellent receivers. They've got a really good young tight end, and they have a very imaginative head coach and offensive coordinator in the passing game. I can't tell you absolutely what they would do or what they are going to do, but I can tell you that they are fascinating to me because Bruce Arians isn't coaching forever. I think he is one of those guys that all quarterbacks say, 'Man, it would be cool to work for Bruce Arians because he's such a fun offensive mind.'

"Hey, look, everybody can say, 'No, not that team. No, not this team.' But, we're talking about Tom Brady and we're talking about a guy who obviously once he comes to your team does so much for it, including sells tickets like no other person in this free-agent market is going to be. So, I guess I look at it and say when I think of Tampa Bay and Tom Brady, it makes as much sense to me as any of these other teams out here with the possible exception of the Chargers."

Brady is coming off one of his worst statistical seasons in recent memory, as he completed only 60.8 percent of his passes for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The New England Patriots fell to the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round, scoring only 13 points in the game.

While Father Time finally may be catching up to the 42-year-old Brady, he won the Super Bowl last season and was NFL MVP the year before that.

If anything, a lack of reliable weapons outside of slot receiver Julian Edelman and running back James White hindered Brady this season. After tight end Rob Gronkowski retired and the Patriots released wide receiver Josh Gordon, Brady clearly wasn't the same.

That wouldn't be an issue in Tampa Bay, as Brady would have no shortage of weapons at his disposal in one of the NFL's most explosive offenses.

The Buccaneers also have an underrated defense that ranked first in the league this season against the run, allowing only 73.8 yards per game. Brady could be the missing piece that puts the Buccaneers over the top and makes them a playoff team.

Brady could always re-sign with the Pats instead, but the fact that he hasn't yet suggests he is seriously weighing his other options after spending 20 seasons and winning six Super Bowls in New England.

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