The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had quite the offseason. General manager Jason Licht kept his promise and brought back every starter from last year’s title-winning team. He also gave legendary quarterback Tom Brady a well-deserved contract extension.
Even though the seven-time Super Bowl champion doesn’t appear close to slowing down, the Buccaneers have officially begun preparing for the post-TB12 era. And in doing so, they just showed the New England Patriots how a real plan to replace Brady actually works.
New England neglected to prepare for life after Tom Brady
Bill Belichick once had the best quarterback room in the NFL, as Brady headlined a depth chart that also featured Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. The Patriots appeared to be in a fantastic position to compete for Super Bowl titles not only in the present but also in the future. But the entire situation changed during the early months of the 2017 season.
On Sept. 2, New England traded Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. The following month, Belichick shockingly shipped Garoppolo to San Francisco for only a second-round pick.
So how did he replace the two promising quarterbacks?
He basically didn’t.
Belichick waited until the seventh round of the 2018 NFL draft to take Danny Etling. To no surprise, the LSU product didn’t last long in New England.
Jarrett Stidham joined the team in 2019…after getting selected in the fourth round. Once again, Belichick waited until the third day of the draft to take a quarterback. That put the Patriots in a bad position once Brady elected to take his talents to Tampa. As New England fans discovered last year, not having a starting-caliber quarterback leads to inconsistent results.
The Buccaneers just showed the Patriots how a succession plan actually works
Tampa would love for Brady to play forever. But no matter how much avocado ice cream he eats, the 43-year-old will have to call it quits at some point. With an eye on the future, the Buccaneers showed the Patriots how a real plan to replace Brady actually works by investing a high draft pick on the most important position in football.
Just like Garoppolo, Florida’s Kyle Trask came off the board near the end of the second round. The Buccaneers used the 65th overall selection to secure the skilled signal-caller. Trask earned second-team All-SEC honors as a senior after completing 68.9% of his passes for 4,283 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Although he doesn’t have great mobility or arm strength, the former Gator produced at a high level for two seasons competing in the toughest conference in college football. Now he gets to learn the ins and outs of playing quarterback at the NFL level from the best one of all time.
More importantly, the Buccaneers have a legitimate candidate on their roster to actually succeed Brady one day. Unlike the Patriots—who didn’t even draft a quarterback last April—they spent a valuable asset to land a young quarterback with starting potential. That could pay off in the long run when it’s time to move in a different direction.
What does the future hold for Mac Jones and Kyle Trask?
The Trask pick came well after the Patriots found a potential heir to Brady. New England used the 15th overall pick to take Alabama’s Mac Jones, who slipped right into Belichick’s lap. However, both players enter the NFL under very different circumstances.
Barring an abrupt retirement by Brady, Trask will spend at least two years on the bench. Although he won’t see the field much, the Texas native will have the opportunity to share the same meeting room as the greatest quarterback of all time. That should give Trask invaluable insight into how Brady’s mind works.
On the other hand, Jones has a legitimate shot to start as a rookie. After all, Cam Newton doesn’t exactly have a stranglehold on the top spot on the depth chart. If he can pick up Josh McDaniels’ offense quickly, Jones should give Belichick the confidence to move on from the Newton experiment.
And if the former Crimson Tide star pans out, the Patriots will officially have a true successor to Tom Brady.