Bucs gets to compete in Packers QB Rodgers Sweepstakes
With Bucs quarterback Tom Brady announcing his retirement on social media As of Wednesday morning, there will be plenty of speculation over the next few hours, days and weeks about what the 2023 quarterback room will look like in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs QB options stretch far and wide
With some young quarterbacks in the NFL Draft class of 2023 currently doing their best to impress the Senior bowl in Mobile, Ala., there are other veteran options available for the Bucs to pursue. This includes Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Baker Mayfield and to a lesser extent Jacoby Brissett, Gardner Minshew and Taylor Heinicke. It’s not a complete list, but it gives an idea of likely targets.
They’re extremely unlikely to trade for any of the design’s upper arms; guys like Bryce Young from Alabama, CJ Stroud from Ohio State or Will Levis from Kentucky. The options beyond that carry more risk and less opportunity to get started immediately. This means choosing one of these veterans may be your best hope of staying relevant and in the fight.
Garoppolo and Carr are the most established names known to be in the market as the 49ers will likely move on from “Jimmy G” and stick with their two younger signal callers. Carr’s departure from Las Vegas is almost certain after he mutually left the team in the closing weeks of the regular season.
Some of these names also have ties to some potential offensive coordinator candidateswhich may add another wrinkle to the Bucs’ quest.
If the Bucs wanted to impress more than the aforementioned quarterbacks, could they replace a 3x NFL MVP in Brady with a 4x NFL MVP in Green Bay Packers legend Aaron Rodgers?
Bucs could look to Packers QB Rodgers in possible trade
Rodgers is the closest comparable to Brady in terms of skill, style of play and status as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. The Bucs got a close look at him in their September home opener, a game the Packers slipped past with a narrow 14–12 victory. Before the season in August, Rodgers praised head coach Todd Bowles for being one of the best coaches in the league, specifically mentioning how he refines his game plan.
“I think [Todd Bowles is] a really good coach,” Rodgers said at the time. “You can always see schematically which coaches are the best based on how the league adapts.”
If Rodgers is pushed out of Green Bay, just as Brett Favre was in 2008 as another quarterback in his late 30s, he has a lot of options. The New York Jets are his most likely landing spot, especially after hiring Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. If Rodgers wants to avoid following Favre’s legacy of going to New York, another Bay would be happy to hire him.
The Bucs have offered almost all of their 2023 and 2024 draft picks in a trade package. It would probably be their first this year (pick No. 19) and a first or second round pick in 2024.
It’s a significant number of picks to give up, but it’s what elite quarterbacks are worth, as evidenced by the trades between Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson last season. If the Bucs want to have another boat parade on the river anytime soon, he’s their best bet to get them there.
It’s important to put Rodgers’ game in context. The 2022 season was a bad year for Rodgers as he led the Packers to just an 8-9 record and missed the playoffs. He failed to hit 300 passing yards in any game, accumulating just 3,695 yards in 17 games. His 12 interceptions are his most in a season since 2008, when he took over from Favre as a full-time starter.
Much of this could be attributed to Rodgers playing with an inexperienced receiver room after the Packers traded Pro Bowler Davante Adams. Besides Cobb, he had to rely on unproven guys like rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, who didn’t fill the void. In Tampa Bay, he was able to return to his level of MVP caliber, throwing to proven receivers like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Let’s not forget his performances on the pitch in 2020 and 2021. He won back-to-back MVPs in his age 37-38 seasons, throwing for 8,414 yards, 85 touchdowns and just nine interceptions in both hardware capturing campaigns.
If there has been a model of efficiency for quarterbacks, Rodgers is the gold standard. He has 475 touchdowns compared to a career-high 105 interceptions, and for this year led the league in lowest interception percentage of any signaler four consecutive times.
He’s still a top-five quarterback who could take “Titletown” to a warmer climate.
Packers QB Rodgers would extend Bucs title window
A move for Rodgers depends on how much faith the Bucs have in keeping their title window open with their current roster. The Bucs still have a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball, and trading for Rodgers could open a way for the Bucs to target guys Rodgers has built past relationships with.
On one of his last performances on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers said there are five guys he wants back on the next iteration of whatever team he fits if he chooses to continue playing.
Speaking more about it, he said that “a guy like Marcedes Lewis is an important cog in the locker room wheel and the team’s momentum,” Rodgers said. “That is a man with whom I want to end my career. When I’m playing, I want that guy next to me.
“I want the Randall Cobbs of the world – if he wants to keep playing – in my dressing room. Guys you can win it with. Allen Lazard, Bobby Tonyan, David Bakhtiari. There are a lot of interesting names that we will see if there is a wish to re-sign certain guys who are glue guys in the locker room.
If he came to Tampa Bay, the team might want to appease him, similar to what the Bucs did to Brady when he signed as a free agent.
The Bucs’ salary cap table isn’t as open as it is in 2020, but adding a few veteran offensive players is possible. It may not be of the caliber of Antonio Brown or Rob Gronkowski, but Rodgers has bonded with players like Randall Cobb and Marcedes Lewis, among others.
Is an exchange for packers QB Rodgers possible?
His contract is the biggest obstacle to getting Rodgers into the Bucs puzzle. As stated by our Pewter Report cap analyst Josh Queipo, it will be challenging to pay A-Rod. His $59.51 million salary for 2023 is to be guaranteed before the season.
The Bucs would have to exercise his option bonus and lower his cap this year to just $15,790,000 to pay him.
To make it remotely possible, veterans like Donovan Smith, Leonard Fournette, Cam Brate and Ryan Succop need to be released. Virtually every player who recently got an extension should be restructured.
Would the franchise be willing to do all this to bring in a man seen by many as a polarizing figure who may only be playing for a season or two?
As seen by the previous two Super Bowl winners in 2020 (Bucs) and 2021 (Rams), reaching the top often requires going all-in to take advantage of a short spell. The Bucs have done it before and may do it again to own the NFC South the same way Rodgers has owned the NFC North throughout his career.
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