Now that Super Bowl 54 is complete, fans of all teams not named the Chiefs have already turned their attention to the off-season, which includes free agency beginning soon. And, there continues to be a juicy-speculative rumor making the rounds that could have Hall of Fame to be quarterback Tom Brady of the Pats on the radar of the Buccaneers.
More on the speculation in a bit.
First, there is full understanding that Brady will most likely re-sign with the Patriots, the team that he has built an Empire with over the course of the last 19 years. And, it is a fact that he’s an unrestricted free agent, if the Patriots don’t get a deal done coming up.
Brady has made it clear that he wants to continue to play and it would be hard to believe that New England owner Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick would not bring him back, even though he will be 43 years old later this season.
Next, as for the Bucs, they are at a crossroads of what to do at their own quarterback position? Former number one overall pick, Jameis Winston, clearly hasn’t gotten any better at not throwing interceptions, as he became the first player in NFL history to have 30 of them in a season where he also threw 30 touchdown passes.
His record as a starter is 28-42 overall and in the past three seasons it’s 13-25.
And, another overriding factor is: Winston has repeatedly lost critical game after critical game, at the end of the year in every season he played in the NFL.
This was no different in 2019 under first-year coach Bruce Arians, where Winston played poorly in a November home loss to the Saints with four interceptions that all but dashed the Bucs playoff hopes dropping them to 3-7.
Then, after the team had gotten their record to 7-7 against bad competition late in the year, Winston failed, when he had a chance to potentially solidify his standing as a starter.
He threw four interceptions in a loss at home to the Texans in week 16 and then, the game losing walk-off interception to the Atlanta Falcons in overtime to end the season at 7-9.
You can’t blame the Buccaneers, if they’re going to look elsewhere to try another quarterback after Winston has produced four losing seasons in five years in Tampa Bay.
And further, coach Bruce Arians has a tremendous track record of working with Super Bowl caliber quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger in the past. Throw in his successes as interim coach for one year in Indy with Andrew Luck and two years with veteran Carson Palmer going to the playoffs and it’s obvious that Arians knows how to get the most out of veteran QBs.
And, that plays very much into the Brady speculation.
Former longtime Sports Illustrated columnist and insider Peter King, who’s now with NBC Sports and Pro Football Talk, gave an interview to Boston’s WEEI radio during Super Bowl radio row coverage.
In that interview, King made it clear that he believes Brady will likely end up back in New England. However, King named the Buccaneers as “sleeping giant” to land Brady theorizing it would be a great match with weapons like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard and the rest of their passing attack.
Then, on Wednesday on the popular “Good Morning Football “weekday show on NFL Network, the subject of the Buccaneers and what they need to do to “make over” their team came up.
1. Offer the world to Tom Brady. Sell him on Arians and two 1,000 yard WRs under the age of 26.
2. Re-Sign JPP, Suh, and Shaq.
3. Draft De'Andre Swift. pic.twitter.com/nGpVXK6K0G
— GMFB (@gmfb) February 5, 2020
While Schrager isn’t reporting that Brady we’ll end up in red and pewter, he did make a compelling case for the six-time Super Bowl winner to end up in Tampa Bay.
Of course, all of the outlets, “talking heads,” and websites (including this one) have to have something to “kick around” now that the games are over with for a while. And, it is interesting that the Brady to the Buccaneers rumors are out there from prominent NFL people.
Then again, the distance between a rumor of Tom Brady actually leaving New England and then, ending up with the Bucs, might be the same as the Gulf of Mexico, too.
Bucs will put former defensive coordinator Kiffin in Ring of Honor
The Bucs are looking forward to their future with a second year under new coach Bruce Arians, but on Friday night, they reached back to their past to honor one of their top assistant coaches in franchise history. And. this fall they will put him in their “Ring of Honor.”
Monte Kiffin, who along with coach Tony Dungy were the architects of the Buccaneers “Tampa 2” defense will become the team’s 14th member of their Ring of Honor in the 2020 season:
Monte Kiffin has been selected as the 14th member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor!
The Glazer Family surprised Coach Kiffin with the news tonight at his 80th birthday party at Raymond James Stadium.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 22, 2020
The Buccaneers made the announcement Friday night as Kiffin was being honored by the organization, his former players, friends and family, as part of his 80th birthday celebration.
Kiffin who came with Dungy in 1996 to the Bucs and led the defense for 13 seasons, helped Tampa Bay’s defense become one of the youngest fastest and fiercest in all of the NFL in just a few short seasons.
Led by now Hall of Famers, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, plus Hall of Fame finalists John Lynch and Ronde Barber, the Bucs defense rose to the number one in the NFL in 1999 and again, in 2002. That season, led by new coach Jon Gruden in his first year and Kiffin’s defense, Tampa Bay won their first and only World Championship cementing Kiffin’s legacy.
Kiffin left the Bucs to go coach at the University of Tennessee, when his son Lane became the head coach for one season in 2009. He then left Knoxville after that season when Lane Kiffin took the USC job. He has spent recent years, as a defensive coach/consultant with the Cowboys and also the Jaguars.
The last couple of seasons he had been with Lane Kiffin in an advisory role at Florida Atlantic.
The Bucs have put 13 previous former players, coaches and even owner Malcolm Glazer, in their Ring of Honor. And, that list includes Sapp, Brooks Lynch and Barber, who was inducted a year ago. Kiffin will be the first assistant coach to be honored. Previously, Gruden (2017) and Dungy (2018) have also both been put in as head coaches, with the architect of the original Buccaneers, John McKay also being inducted also back in 2010.
Should RT Jack Conklin be on Bucs free agent radar?
As NFL teams continue to do their due diligence on not only their own potential free agents, but what others might be out there too, an interesting name has emerged that could give the Bucs, and other teams, some offensive line help.
It appears that the Titans, fresh off a tremendous playoff run into the AFC Championship game may be willing to part with former number 1 pick, starting right tackle Jack Conklin. And if they’re going to let the former Michigan State star test free agency, Tampa Bay may have a real interest.
First, the Bucs are looking at options on their line, as the senior member of their roster, right tackle Demar Dotson, who’s played his entire 11 year career in Tampa and will be 35 years old this fall, is slated to be a free agent, as well.
And while Dotson has been a mainstay over the course of the last decade on the Bucs offensive line, GM Jason lick and Coach Bruce Arians maybe looking to get younger and some better play out of that position.
Tennessee elected not to pick up Conklin’s fifth year option on his rookie deal and there are some concerns about his ability to pass block. However, there’s no doubting that with power back Derrick Henry, Conklin was part of the unit on offense that played “smash mouth football” throughout the postseason. And, they scored upsets of the Patriots and the Ravens in part behind their tough ground game before falling at Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.
Conklin did suffer an ACL injury in his second season but is fully healed from that now, and he could be a very cost-effective option four teams looking to solidify their offensive line. Conklin made only $2.7 million in the final year of his initial four year deal with the team declining his $12.9 million option.
As for the Bucs, they already have massive money invested in center Ryan Jensen, guard Ali Marpet and left tackle Donovan Smith on their line, but at the same time, the Bucs also have close to $85 million under the cap once free agency begins.
Clearly, their top priorities are figuring out whether to bring back QB Jameis Winston (and at what price?) and also, how many free agent to be defensive linemen out of Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre Paul and Ndamukong Suh they can also fit under their cap.
Still, you cannot have enough good lineman, and perhaps grabbing the Titans former starter off a playoff team would improve their run game, which sputtered a lot of 2019.
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