Top 3 QB Targets for the Buccaneers: Who Will be Tom Brady’s Heir

Should The Bucs Draft, Sign, or Trade for Brady’s Replacement?

Written By: Benedetto Vitale – Twitter (TalksVitale)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are fresh off of a Super Bowl win and the offseason is officially underway. The front office will do its best to maintain the roster that just won the championship, while also reloading the team with new talent. 

Tom Brady’s age is no secret across the NFL world. He’s well into his mid-40s now, making him the oldest player in the league. It sounds like Brady will be playing one more year, as he attempts to secure an eighth Super Bowl title under his belt. 

With that said, the Buccaneers need to consider finding Brady’s heir sooner, rather than later. This would give Tampa Bay a huge advantage in terms of depth. Once Brady leaves, the front office will have to find his replacement. So why not do it this year?

There are three routes the front office could choose to go. First, they could elect a rookie quarterback in the NFL draft this offseason. With a ton of talented QBs this year, it’s possible the Bucs select a stud to replace Brady. Second, they could look towards the free-agent market, possibly giving another NFL quarterback to redeem himself. And lastly, the front office could choose to trade for a QB to sit and learn behind Brady for one year. 

Here are three potential quarterbacks that could be Tom Brady’s heir for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Does Mac Jones Get Drafted by Tampa Bay?

As we approach the NFL draft, the Tampa Bay front office will have to decide if selecting a QB is the right approach. Mac Jones is projected to go anywhere within the late first-round through the mid-second round. So if the Bucs believe Jones can be that guy, they’re likely to use their first-round pick to select him. 

In Chris Trapasso’s article for CBS Sports, he explains Jones’ current draft stock. He claims, “Could Jones land on a good team late in round one, sit for a season, and ultimately become a successful passer? Yes. But he’s going to need a lot of assets around him.”

With that said, the Buccaneers’ offense would be a perfect situation for the former Alabama quarterback. The offense is loaded with talent, and the offensive line should be much more improved by the time Mac Jones takes over as the starter. Considering how good he was at getting the ball to DeVonta Smith, Jones could thrive throwing deep to Mike Evans in the NFL.

Mitchell Trubisky Signs with the Bucs?

Another route the Bucs front office could go is signing a free agent QB like Mitchell Trubisky. I know he’s not the hottest name, but there’s a possibility he lands with the Buccaneers to learn for a year. This may become the new thing for struggling quarterbacks in the league, as we witnessed Jameis Winston do the same at the New Orleans Saints.

Luckily for Trubisky, the 2020 season wasn’t the worst by any means. Tommy Garrett, an author for Pro Football Network explains by saying, “While he did end the season on a higher note, it’s uncertain if it was enough to keep him in the Windy City.” Although this is true, there should still be a market for Trubisky this offseason. 

This would be the best-case scenario for Trubisy’s career. He would have the privilege of sitting behind the best QB in football for a year, learning and adapting, and possibly getting his career back on track. 

Furthermore, Trubisky seems to play better when moving around in the backfield, whether that’s from bootlegs, or keeping the play alive with his legs. The Buccaneers offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich, is a smart OC that could design an offense suitable for Trubisky. Buccaneers fans may not love this idea, but it’d be worth a shot after Brady’s retirement. 

The Buccaneers Trade for Sam Darnold?

The final option for the Bucs replacement for Brady could be Sam Darnold. Another name that’s not too exciting, but hear me out. Most of Darnold’s struggles this year aren’t fully on him. Since being drafted to the New York Jets, the front office hasn’t built a supporting cast around him to help him succeed. 

For Darnold, finding a new home is likely best for his career. Furthermore, he’s only 23 years old, meaning he still has some time to figure it out at the pro level. Playing behind Brady for a year could be detrimental to Darnold’s career, and could rejuvenize him completely. 

Additionally, Darnold comes at a cheap price the Bucs could afford. Adam Wells, a writer for Bleacher Report proclaims, “Darnold is under contract for at least one more season, though the team has until May fourth to decide if it will exercise the fifth-year option on his rookie deal for 2022.” That’s a deal that won’t break the Bucs bank, giving them enough cap space to maintain their talented roster. 

Darnold has shown flashes of brilliancy. Taking a year off and learning may be exactly what he needs. If this trade comes to fruition, there is a possibility the Buccaneers steal Darnold away, then continue to have a legitimate career for them.

Three Potential Landing Spots for Zach Ertz via Trade this Off-Season

Where Could the Eagles TE Land?

By: Chris Boughman (Twitter: @Bo_Rock20)

The era of Zach Ertz has been a fun ride for Eagles fans and the organization. One of the most beloved Eagles players in recent memory enters the final year of his contract, and his future in Philadelphia is very much in doubt. He’s enjoyed a phenomenal career that’s left his name cemented in the Eagles history books being among the leaders in the organization in many categories (According to Pro Football Reference):

  • Second All-Time in Receptions (561)
  • Fifth All Time in Receiving Yards (6,078)
  • Tied for Seventh All-Time in Touchdowns (36)

However, all stories feature an ending, and that very well could become reality for Zach Ertz in an Eagles uniform. 2020 was an awful year for much of us, and an especially bad year for Ertz. The three time Pro Bowler saw a drastic fall in production with career lows in all categories including a 6.9% drop rate. In comparison, Zach Ertz hasn’t seen a drop rate above 4% since 2018. As his numbers started to plummet, the Stanford alum watched his protégé Dallas Goedert emerge as a feature target in the passing game.

The drama even leaked off the field for Zach Ertz. In training camp, he was seeking a contract extension to spend the rest of his career in Philadelphia. However, Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman and Ertz couldn’t come to terms on a deal. This created a notable dissension between Ertz and Roseman, and became public after a heated discussion on the practice field. After this encounter, one could say that Zach Ertz checked out on the Eagles, showing a very different player than we’re accustomed to seeing on the field.

Zach Ertz will go down as one of the best players to ever wear an Eagles uniform. He embodied the Philadelphia culture, and fans relished in his emotion to the city of Philadelphia both on and off the field. Eagles fans related with Zach Ertz, and he connected with the city very well. As the season winded down, Ertz knew his career in Philly was coming to an end and left a heartfelt message to fans:

The Philadelphia Eagles are in a tough situation heading into 2021. They have the second-worst cap situation in the league is almost 52 million dollars over the cap, according to Over The Cap. They need to shed salary somewhere, and Zach Ertz could be a prime trade candidate. Let’s take a look at three teams that could potentially pull the trigger in a trade for the talented Zach Ertz.

Indianapolis Colts

Let’s start the bidding with the most logical candidate, the Indianapolis Colts!

Now, the first thing on Frank Reich’s off-season To Do List is to find a Quarterback (Plenty are available), but the Colts will be popular in trade rumors surrounding Zach Ertz.

This might be the most logical destination for Zach Ertz. He’ll be reunited with his former Offensive Coordinator, and current Indianapolis Head Coach, Frank Reich. The Colts played this season with three tight ends having a prominent role in their offense, both in blocking and the passing game. Let’s compare Tight End production with the 2020 Colts and the 2017 Eagles:

2020 Indianapolis Colts (Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, and Trey Burton)

  • Receptions: 82
  • Receiving Yards: 895
  • Touchdowns: 8

2017 Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, and Brent Celek)

  • Receptions: 110
  • Receiving Yards: 1,202
  • Touchdowns: 14

While the stats don’t match up identically, there’s one thing you can take away from the above statistics: Frank Reich loves his Tight Ends! The Tight End position will be used prominently in the Colts offense, and Reich will run a ton of 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE).

Is there space in the Tight End room for Zach Ertz? Well, with Trey Burton and Mo Alie-Cox set to become free agents, there’s a prime opportunity for the Colts to swoop in and make a trade for Zach Ertz. They have plenty of Cap space (68+ million), so this seems to be a match made in heaven.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are in unfamiliar territory as we enter the off-season. They missed the playoffs for the first time since I was 20 years old…In 2002! Bill Belichick has plenty of decisions to make as he prepares for the 2021 season. Do they tear it down and rebuild the empire? Does Belichick dive into the QB market and look for an immediate solution to get back into contention? These are important questions that need answers for the direction of the Patriots franchise.

The Patriots are in a prime position to turn things around quickly in Foxborough. They rolled over 19 million to the 2021 salary Cap. Also, the Patriots are released from 32 million dollars in dead money. The above-mentioned moves set New England up with a great salary cap situation in a year where some teams may struggle with maintaining the cap number. The Patriots rank fourth in the league with over 58 million in cap space, according to Spotrac. According to reports out of New England, Belichick expects to be aggressive in free agency.

Does Zach Ertz make sense for the Patriots? Sure! The stars could align and allow Ertz to shine in Foxborough. New England has the cap space to occupy such a move. The contracted Tight ends on the roster include Devin Asiasi (3rd rd. pick 2020), Matt LaCosse, Dalton Keene, and Ryan Izzo. Needless to say, the Tight End room could sure use an upgrade. Enter Zach Ertz! He could provide an instant upgrade to the Tight End position, and to the overall offensive production. Could the Eagles squeeze a 2nd round pick (#46) out of Belichick? Only time will tell.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are in the midst of a rebuild after a 4-11-1 finish in 2020. “Who Dey” nation could be in store for some major improvements in 2021. Cincinnati has a top 5 pick in the draft. The Salary cap situation is looking pretty good with an estimated 35 million dollars to spend, according to Spotrac. Oh yeah, they have a franchise Quarterback in Joe Burrow hoping a return to full strength after a nasty knee injury in 2020.

The Bengals offense has plenty of weapons, but could use an upgrade at Tight End. Cincinnati currently has C.J. Uzomah slated to play the position, but not much depth behind him. Drew Sample and Mason Schreck fill out the depth chart. Zach Ertz would present a significant upgrade to the Tight End position in Cincinnati. The Bengals hold picks #38 and #69 in this years draft. Could the Eagles move Ertz for one of those picks?

Will a Trade Happen?

According to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, The Eagles and Zach Ertz are nearly a divorce and could be finalized in the 2021 off-season. As you proceed down the Twitter feed in the coming days, I’m sure you’ll see rumors swirling about Ertz’s eventual departure from the team.

What can the Eagles receive in return for the talented Zach Ertz? This is very tough to determine. The Eagles Tight End is 30 years old, and entering the final season of a five year contract. The cap hit for his 2021 salary is 12 million. Also, Zach is coming off the worst statistical season of his career. This could greatly affect the Eagles compensation in a trade. However, Zach Ertz is a generational talent, and could offer a boost to any offense in the league.

If the Zach Ertz chapter is being closed in Philadelphia, the organization and fans owe a big Thank you for his contributions on and off the field. Zach Ertz will be a great addition to any team that acquires him this off-season.

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