The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the 2022 offseason with several questions to answer, but none bigger than at the quarterback position. With Tom Brady retiring from the NFL, Bruce Arians and company must replace the legendary signal-caller.
The Bucs seem likely to give veteran Blaine Gabbert every opportunity to earn the starting job moving forward. While that doesn’t appear to be an option that can help this team compete for a Super Bowl, Arians is showing his support for Gabbert.
The head coach recently opened up on why the public perception of the 32-year-old quarterback is wrong.
Bruce Arians gives Blaine Gabbert vote of confidence
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ search for their new starting quarterback has begun, as Tom Brady retired after the 2021 season. Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask appear to be the most likely options to replace the 15-time Pro Bowler. However, Gabbert seems to have the early edge.
Bruce Arians hears the noise about Gabbert’s track record, but he’s not concerned about it. The Bucs head coach recently weighed in on the prospects of the veteran signal-caller taking the reins in 2022.
“People may not like the overall record,” Arians said per the Tampa Bay Times‘ Rick Stroud. “But Blaine had eight head coaches and eight coordinators his first eight years. He beat Jacksonville their best year and beat Tennessee their big year for us in Arizona. And he’s been in the system now.”
Gabbert also briefly played under Bruce Arians on the Arizona Cardinals in 2017. That familiarity could give him the upper hand in the position battle.
“I don’t have a problem there, and let Kyle continue to grow,” Arians added. “Either one. He’s never played with a team this good. He’s got all the respect in the locker room that he can have.”
The journeyman QB has massive shoes to fill to replace Tom Brady
Despite Bruce Arians’ strong vote of confidence, it’s not surprising if people are skeptical. Blaine Gabbert has been in the NFL for 10 seasons but never established himself as a legitimate starting quarterback.
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Gabbert with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Missouri. The former first-round pick failed to live up to the billing early in his career, and he’s been mostly a backup over the past several years.
Gabbert has thrown for 9,273 yards, 50 touchdowns, and 47 interceptions in his career. He’s posted a lackluster 13-35 record as a starter. His career completion percentage (56.3%) isn’t exactly promising either. Still, Arians does have a point.
None of the teams Gabbert played on had as much talent as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have heading into the 2022 season. At the same time, it’s fair to wonder how the team would’ve fared the past two seasons without Tom Brady under center.
At 44 years old, Brady put together one of the most productive seasons of his lengthy NFL career. His departure leaves a massive void at quarterback. Now, it appears the Bucs will turn to a less-proven option to replace him moving forward.
Will Tampa Bay keep its options open in the offseason?
Bruce Arians, general manager Jason Licht and the rest of the Buccaneers front office have some time to figure out who the starting quarterback will be in 2022. They haven’t officially named Blaine Gabbert the starter just yet.
Kyle Trask is another internal candidate who could compete for the gig. The Florida product sat out his entire rookie season, but he likely provides higher upside than Gabbert. The Bucs should want to see what they have in the second-rounder.
Tampa Bay might also look externally to add a signal-caller. Several veterans could be available in the offseason, including Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Kirk Cousins (Vikings), and Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers). Deshaun Watson could also be available, pending the outcome of his legal situation.
The draft is another possibility. However, Rick Stroud suggests the team likes Trask more than any of the quarterbacks in the 2022 draft class.
If Arians and the Bucs want to return to the Super Bowl right away, finding Tom Brady’s replacement outside the organization seems like a wise choice. However, Tampa Bay could see Blaine Gabbert as a bridge for Kyle Trask being the franchise quarterback at some point.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference