TAMPA — Bucs general manager Jason Licht is like the rest of the football world. He’s waiting to learn Tom Brady’s decision.
Acknowledging the obvious, Licht said Tuesday that the Bucs have made their best pitch to acquire Brady, the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback who announced he was leaving the Patriots after 20 years. Fox Sports Radio’s Colin Cowherd, meanwhile, was saying Tuesday that he’s hearing from someone in Brady’s camp that the quarterback will sign with Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Brady is weighing offers from the Bucs and Chargers, and possibly more unidentified teams.
“There is interest on our part,” Licht told the Times. “But we have not been in communication today. I have no idea where he is with his decision. Nothing is agreed upon, etc.”
The Bucs and the rest of the NFL have been holding their collective breath since Brady announced on social media Tuesday morning that he was leaving New England,
“Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our INCREDIBLE team accomplishments," Brady said in his statement Tuesday. “...I don’t know what the future holds, but it’s time to open a new stage for my life and my career.”
Brady has been the Bucs’ target at quarterback since the 2019 season ended, if not before. Coach Bruce Arians, disappointed by the 30 interceptions and 120 points scored off turnovers by Jameis Winston, seemed ready to move on from the former No. 1 overall pick after five seasons.
On Monday, the Bucs used their franchise player tag on linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who led the NFL in sacks.
That left Winston available during the three-day negotiating period. The Bucs’ next free-agent target at quarterback was the Saints’ Teddy Bridgewater, who reportedly is close to agreeing to a three-year, $60 million contract with the Panthers. Tampa Bay also has an interest in Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who is talking to the Indianapolis Colts.
That’s why the Bucs have kept very close tabs on Winston, with members of the organization continuing to have dialogue with him as late as Tuesday.
Brady is believed to be looking not only for a talented team to join, but one that has a head coach he can collaborate with on the offensive game plan. That would seem to be Bruce Arians, who has coached Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer.
He also would enjoy the warm weather and perhaps a proximity to New York, where his oldest son lives.
Former Lions and Bucs quarterback Dan Orlovsky said Tampa Bay would be the best fit for Brady.
The best fit are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. First off, get out of the AFC,'' Orlovsky said on ESPN. "The Chiefs are just as good. The Baltimore Ravens are stronger. The Dolphins are stronger. The Buffalo Bills are stronger. So get out of the AFC. Go to Tampa Bay with that division. Looking at that division right now, Carolina is obviously in a rebuild mode, Atlanta moved some pieces, we don’t know what type of football team they’re going to have. New Orleans is pretty good, but you’ve got to beat New Orleans to win your division.
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"Then you look at two really good receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Mike Evans might be one of the more talented guys that Brady has ever had absent Randy Moss. And then you look at two tight ends, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard that are really good. A play-caller in Bruce Arians. Everyone is going to go schematically it doesn’t fit. He can’t push the football down the field. One, yes he can. The film shows he still can. Two, Bruce Arians is a good enough coach to change his scheme some. We watched Gary Kubiak when he took Peyton Manning. He changed his scheme some to fit what Peyton did so that scheme fit will happen. And then that defense was much better. The last six weeks of the season, they were the best in the NFL defensive efficiency ranking wise. So there’s some really good pieces. They got a lot of cap space to spend. That’s the best fit for Brady to go win another Super Bowl.''