Thu, 25 Feb 2021

State of the Bucs: Quarterbacks

Buccaneers
23 Feb 2021, 18:26 GMT+10

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Taking a position by position look at the Buccaneers heading into the 2021 season, starting with the quarterbacks. Carmen Vitali

Position Group: Quarterbacks

Players: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin, Drew Stanton

2020 Evaluation: The Buccaneers starting quarterback was named Super Bowl LV MVP, so I guess you could say things went well this past season. In his first season with a new team after spending two decades in New England, Tom Brady did exactly what he came to Tampa Bay to do: win a Super Bowl. He also had one of his best years ever at the ripe age of 43.

Though he adjusted to an entirely new offensive system, Brady threw the second-most single-season touchdowns of his career with 40 in the regular season. He threw for 4,633 regular season yards, which was good for a top five ranking in his 21 years, giving him an average of 289.6 yards per game. He did it while throwing a total of 12 regular season interceptions, with just one total in the final four games of the season following the Bucs' Week 13 bye.

In the postseason, Brady threw for a league-best 1,061 yards and 10 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He averaged a third-ranked 98.1 quarterback rating, completing 81 of 138 total pass attempts. His passes were also going further. Across the four postseason games the Buccaneers played, Brady's average pass length was 9.93 yards, which ranked second among all postseason quarterbacks, behind only Seattle's Russell Wilson.

Brady also collected accolades along the way as he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week and FedEx Air Player of the Week in Week Four, becoming only the second Bucs quarterback to ever accomplish the feat. He was also named to the former award in the last week of the season, giving him 33 such awards and now two in the NFC. Add in his seventh Lombardi trophy and fourth Super Bowl MVP award and it was a pretty great first season for Brady.

The 21-year veteran started every game for the Buccaneers. He was pulled in the fourth quarter of Week Six's game against the Green Bay Packers with the Bucs out to a comfortable lead. That was the first time anyone other than Brady took the reins as Gabbert got some work. Brady then sat out the second half of the Bucs' Week 15 win in Detroit with a comfortable lead established at halftime. Gabbert completed nine of 15 pass attempts, passing for two touchdowns and garnering a 131.4 passer rating in his most significant work of the season. The Bucs won the game by a convincing 40-point margin.

2021 Outlook: Brady is still under contract for another year, signing a two-year agreement prior to the 2020 season. However, he's the only quarterback under contract for 2021, with both Gabbert and Griffin becoming free agents at the start of the new league year. Both General Manager Jason Licht and Head Coach Bruce Arians have expressed confidence in Gabbert as a backup and even perhaps as Brady's successor, but they'll have to give him a new deal for that to happen.

Stanton was signed to the Buccaneers' practice squad on Christmas Day, where he remained until the Super Bowl, where he was one of two players elevated from the practice squad for the championship game.

As far as the 2021 NFL Draft goes, the Buccaneers could look for a longer-term option in the later rounds but are unlikely to spend significant capital on the position when there are more pressing needs. Any young quarterback coming in would undoubtedly be relegated to waiting in the wings, while getting to learn from the best quarterback of all time in the process. It wouldn't be a bad deal, at all. But this may not be the draft to find a quarterback in the later rounds. This year's quarterback class is just a bit too top heavy. There is thought to be a significant drop-off in the talent pool once you get past the top five quarterbacks, who could all feasibly be taken in the first round. Then again, Brady himself was a sixth-round pick, so there's always the potential to strike gold, anyway. Though the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft was Chad Pennington - do with that information what you want.

The point is, the Bucs aren't likely to use a higher-round pick on a quarterback when Brady has shown no signs of slowing down and they have confidence in the backups they currently have.

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