TAMPA — One prominent national football analyst believes the Bucs sit as a “sleeping giant” is a potential landing spot for pending free agent quarterback Tom Brady.
Speaking on the Dale & Keefe radio show on WEEI in Boston on Thursday, NBC Sports’ Peter King said while pending free agent Jameis Winston’s return to Tampa Bay is an unknown, he sees the pairing of the Bucs and Brady as one that makes sense.
“Everybody can say, ‘No, not that team. No, not this team,’" King said. “But, we’re talking about Tom Brady and we’re talking about a guy who obviously once he comes to your team does so much for it, including sells tickets like no other person in this free-agent market is going to be. So, I guess I look at it and say when I think of Tampa Bay and Tom Brady, it makes as much sense to me as any of these other teams out here with the possible exception of the Chargers.”
The Bucs certainly have the offensive weapons that Brady has lacked recently in New England. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans combined for nearly 2,500 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches despite missing five games between them due to season-ending injuries. Tight end O.J. Howard struggled in his first season in Bruce Arians’ offense, but remains a mismatch because of his size and speed. And the Bucs showed overall improvement in the second half, creating optimism that they could be a team on the rise provided they keep their defense together.
“Look, they have a pretty good offensive line and they’ve got two excellent receivers," King said. "They’ve got a really good young tight end, and they have a very imaginative head coach and offensive coordinator in the passing game. I can’t tell you absolutely what they would do or what they are going to do, but I can tell you that they are fascinating to me because Bruce Arians isn’t coaching forever. I think he is one of those guys that all quarterbacks say, ‘Man, it would be cool to work for Bruce Arians’ because he’s such a fun offensive mind."
King hedged his statement by saying that he believed Winston, who is also a pending free agent, would be back in 2020 if his contract expectations are “realistic.”
"I don’t know that," King said. "I am hearing some things out of Tampa that he might be, and his agents might want a little bit more money than the Bucs want to pay. And we’ll see if that pans out."
Both players could end up with their current teams, and many expect that to happen. The Bucs could also place a franchise tag on Winston, keeping him under team control.
While their current teams can negotiate exclusively with them for now, both Brady and Winston are slated to become free agents on March 18.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.