Although Tom Brady looks far from finished, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to plan for the future. After all, not even all the avocado ice cream in the world can stop the calendar from moving forward another year.
Considering TB12 turns 44 in August, it makes perfect sense for his new team to start thinking about who could start at quarterback down the line.
What doesn’t make sense, however, is how Tampa could even fathom that Brady’s potential successor is already on the roster. Apparently, though, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht believes one of the greatest quarterback of all time’s current teammates has a shot at succeeding the seven-time champion someday.
Tom Brady keeps proving age is nothing but a number
Seven years ago, the New England Patriots started planning for life after Tom Brady.
At least, Bill Belichick did.
By selecting Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, he put the pressure on Brady to step up after a few down seasons.
Motivated by the presence of his potential successor on the roster, the former sixth-round pick promptly led the Patriots to a championship. Two years later, Brady led the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, which essentially sealed his status as the GOAT.
By October 2017, Garoppolo went from being considered the future of the franchise to finding himself playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
A few months later, Brady proceeded to throw for the most yards in Super Bowl history in a crushing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Of course, he got revenge a year later. New England’s stout defense stifled the LA Rams in a 13-3 win in Super Bowl 53.
Brady’s 2019 season featured plenty of moments of frustration. And his numbers plummeted due largely to a lack of adequate weapons.
This year, however, the 43-year-old rediscovered his vintage form. In his first season in Tampa, Brady threw 40 touchdowns and helped the Buccaneers secure a playoff berth. And after taking down Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, he came out on top in a highly-anticipated showdown against Patrick Mahomes last Sunday.
The Buccaneers believe they already have a potential successor to TB12
With seven rings, hundreds of millions in career earnings, and plenty of other hardware, Tom Brady has accomplished everything possible during his Canton-worthy career. Yet, that hasn’t stopped him from leaving the door open about playing beyond the age of 45.
Still, considering the unprecedented nature of his NFL longevity, Brady’s self-confidence in his abilities shouldn’t preclude the Buccaneers from planning for the future.
Apparently, though, they already have a potential successor to Brady on the roster.
On Thursday, Buccaneerss GM Jason Licht conducted an interview with Pewter Report that included some eye-opening comments about a quarterback who spent the entire 2020 season backing up the former Patriots star: Blaine Gabbert.
“First of all, I love his energy,” Licht said of the 31-year-old former first-round pick. “I’ve really gotten close to Blaine this year just being on the sidelines. He’s a really smart guy but he is one guy, my scouts and I talk about this a lot, he’s just one guy that I love to watch throw every day in practice because he has got a cannon.”
Tampa’s top personnel man continued with his effusive praise for a player who completely flopped in Jacksonville.
“If he had been forced to play, he played in the Detroit game, but if he had been forced to play more I think that he would have really opened a lot of people’s eyes about how talented he is, especially being in the same system for a couple of years,” Licht said.
He wrapped up with, “I’m not going to rule anything out right now.”
Will Brady add another Super Bowl ring to his collection before Tampa moves in a different direction?
Based on Jason Licht’s comments about Blaine Gabbert, it certainly sounds like the Buccaneers think highly of him. Yet, given his disappointing NFL career, it seems highly unlikely that he will suddenly become a starting-caliber quarterback in his mid-30s.
Perhaps spending more time around Tom Brady will give Gabbert a chance to improve certain aspects of his game. And learning more about the NFL legend’s workout routines and preparation process could help him make leaps of his own.
However, whenever the Buccaneers break in a new starting quarterback, it would make much more sense to do so with a young player selected in the early rounds of the NFL draft rather than an aging career backup.
Of course, nobody knows exactly when Tampa will have to make that transition.
Brady clearly has fuel left in the tank. He has a fantastic set of weapons and a coaching staff that seems far more player-friendly than the one he left behind in New England.
So as long as the Buccaneers can keep the band together, they should be right back in the Super Bowl mix in 2021. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see TB12 add an eight ring to his collection.
And if Brady once again emerges on top, his backup/potential successor will get another ring, too.