The Tom Brady free agency rumors are inevitable, so why not join in on the fun? Of all the teams that Brady has been linked to this offseason, one stands out as by far the most enticing: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Sure, Tampa Bay doesn’t exude headlines like some of the other teams chasing Brady. It doesn’t have the same juice that Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Miami do as destinations. Nevertheless, if this decision is about winning football games, there’s no spot outside of New England that’s better suited for Brady than Tampa.
The biggest point in the Buccaneers favor is the myriad of offensive weapons on their roster. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard and Cameron Brate might form both the best wide receiver duo in the league and the best tight end duo in the league. Those pass catching options are tough for any quarterback to pass up. If Jameis Winston can throw for over 5,000 yards in that offense in the same season in which he threw 30 interceptions, imagine what Brady could do…
Tampa also finished 7th in Pro Football Focus’s end-of-season offensive line rankings, three spots ahead of the Patriots. The good news doesn’t stop there. The Buccaneers also have almost $85 million in cap room this offseason, according to Spotrac. So not only can the Buccaneers offer Tom Brady $30+ million to join their team, they’ll have roughly $55 million left over to surround him with even more talent than they already have. They could add three star level players to a defense that already features stud rookie linebacker Devin White or perhaps they could add to their already loaded offense. Bruce Arians could sign Brady’s talented teammate Joe Thuney to further bolster their offensive line or snatch Derrick Henry away from the Titans to give their team an air & ground attack that almost every team in the NFL would surely envy.
The Buccaneers offense is a dream for any quarterback to step into, but it doesn’t end with their weapons. Bruce Arians has proven to be one of the best offensive coaching minds in football. If Jameis Winston’s career-high’s in passing yards and passing touchdowns last season aren’t enough evidence to convince you, look no further than what he was able to do with an aging Carson Palmer.
Palmer was on his way out of the league after the Bengals traded him to Oakland. After two subpar seasons with the Raiders (Palmer accumulated a putrid total of 8 wins in his 2 years as their starting quarterback), Palmer was given one last shot with first time head coach Bruce Arians in 2013. Palmer went from on his way out of the league to on his way to the top of it once Arians got a hold of him.
Carson Palmer record without Bruce Arians: 54-67 (.446)
Carson Palmer record with Bruce Arians: 38-21-1 (.639)
Carson Palmer quarterback rating without Bruce Arians: 86.2
Carson Palmer quarterback rating with Bruce Arians: 91.1
Carson Palmer TD:INT ratio without Bruce Arians: 189:130 (1.45:1)
Carson Palmer TD:INT with Bruce Arians: 105:57 (1.84:1)
Palmer had as many 10-win seasons under Arians as he did in the entire rest of his career before getting to Arizona and that doesn’t include a 6-0 season as a starter in 2014 that was cut short by an ACL tear. The Cardinals still went 11-5 that season and made the playoffs. If Palmer had stayed healthy, they could’ve even made the Super Bowl.
Palmer returned the following season and went 13-3 (the best record of his career), had a career-high 35 touchdowns, made his first Pro Bowl since 2006 and led the Arizona Cardinals to the NFC Championship Game. If Bruce Arians can do all of that with an aging Carson Palmer, it should be a cakewalk taking Brady to another Super Bowl or two.
The division is relatively easy too. The Saints are the only real threat and that’s only if Drew Brees doesn’t retire, which he appears to be strongly considering. Compared to divisions like the NFC West, AFC West, NFC North and AFC North, the NFC South doesn’t look too daunting.
The cherry on top? Tampa Bay is the host city for next year’s Super Bowl. If everything goes well and Brady leads the Buccaneers to a spectacular season, they’ll be playing at home in the biggest game in all of sports.
Also, this is more of an aside, but what is the Buccaneers abbreviation? TB. What are Tom Brady’s initials? TB. TB in TB. It makes too much sense. You look up at the score and what does TB stand for? Tom Brady or Tampa Bay? Does it even matter anymore? This is more of a fun wrinkle than a serious consideration, but it’s just another reason why Tampa Bay is truly made for Brady.
The Buccaneers haven’t garnered much buzz as a Brady destination to this point, but they’re beginning to pick up steam. Peter King of NBC Sports called the Buccaneers a “sleeping giant” as a contender for Brady’s services this offseason. The gambling community isn’t taking them lightly either. The Buccaneers have the 4th best odds to land Brady, just behind New England, Las Vegas and the Los Angeles Chargers, according to the oddsmakers at BetOnline.
If you’re a Patriots fan, I’m not saying you should want this. However, if Brady is leaving and you still want him to succeed, the Buccaneers offer him the best opportunity to do so. If this is strictly a football decision for Tom Brady, it would be nearly impossible for any team, even the Patriots, to top what Tampa Bay has to offer.
Photo: (Chris O'Meara - AP Photo)