If Tom Brady does leave Tampa Bay this year, there are several avenues the Buccaneers can take to replace him, including the draft, trade, and free agency.
It’s impossible to enact a successful succession plan for Tom Brady.
The Patriots tried to do it with Jimmy Garoppolo, but Brady outlasted him by much longer than anticipated. When Brady did leave New England, the Patriots signed Cam Newton before selecting Mac Jones in the 2021 Draft.
The Buccaneers don’t have the same foundation in place if Brady decides to retire in the coming months. While Bruce Arians would be comfortable with veteran backup Blaine Gabbert and 2021 draftee Kyle Trask, he is also open to looking behind “Door No. 2” and exploring their options. After all, that’s apparently how they stumbled upon a championship with Brady.
But neither Gabbert nor Trask is poised to fill the role Tom Brady carved out during his two years in Tampa Bay. Tom Brady has offered unparalleled leadership in the form of coaching up his teammates, instructing players what to do pre-snap, and reading defenses like no other in the league.
Still, the Buccaneers could find a future leader capable of taking the helm in a variety of ways.
3. Draft: Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis
Even if Brady does leave, it’s unlikely that the Buccaneers would draft a quarterback to replace him.
While the Buccaneers have drafted spectacularly in recent years, exemplified by an All-Pro Tristan Wirfs, taking a quarterback in the first round is still be a significant gamble. Josh Rosen was taken 10th-overall in 2018, yet Kyler Murray was drafted a year later to replace him.
With some of their biggest free agents like Jason Pierre-Paul, Rob Gronkowski and Chris Godwin set to hit the market, there are more significant areas of need in 2022, including defensive end, offensive line and wide receiver if Godwin is gone. But the Brady situation could throw a wrench into things, so if the Buccaneers do decide to draft a quarterback with their 27th-overall pick, it could be someone like Desmond Ridder or Malik Willis.
Ridder may not have played up all of his strengths in Cincinnati’s matchup against Alabama in December, but he still has impressive “athleticism and ability to create as a rusher.” Willis is projected to go to the Denver Broncos at No. 17, but if he falls, he could potentially land in the waiting arms of the Buccaneers ten picks later.