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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Top Target in Bucs coaching search?

Florida Football Insiders

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers wasted no time in dismissing head coach Dirk Koetter on Sunday evening, which created the third current opening (and counting) for NFL head coaches. And there’s already an interesting plot line emerging for his replacement. This as general manager Jason Licht survived and according to the Glazer family that owns the team, he will lead the coaching search to replace Koetter.

And that means there is a logical “connect the dots” already brewing from where Licht previously served in front office as director of pro personnel with the Arizona Cardinals. And, the intriguing name to watch now is: their former coach, Bruce Arians.

The 66 year old Arians had a successful run as the Cardinals coach from 2012-17 before electing to retire at the end of the 2017 season primarily due to health concerns and the toll coaching takes. He has spent this season in the CBS-TV Booth working games with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green, as an analyst.

As we wrote previously in an item about the top targets for Tampa Bay, Arians had the Cardinals in the 2014 NFC Championship Game. His 50 wins with Arizona are the most in franchise history. And, he is also the former NFL Coach of the Year, as the interim coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2011. That’s when he took over for coach Chuck Pagano, who had undergone Leukemia treatment that season.

There’s also a very important contingency: the Cardinals still have Arians under contract and it would probably require the Buccaneers to give them compensation for him to become Tampa Bay’s, or anyone else’s, head coach.

The Glazers have experience with this having famously traded two number one, and two number two draft picks, plus $8 million to the Oakland Raiders for Coach Jon Gruden. That move paid off immediately, as Gruden the following season (2002) led Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl victory over his old team.

Back to Licht, he previously worked under current Cards GM Steve Keim from 2012-13, and his relationship with the Cards makes this a juicy possibility.

Still, the first hurdle is likely, whether Arians actually wants to return to coaching due to his age and overall health concerns.

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