Bucs must be aggressive in finding a quarterback

by Gary Shelton on February 3, 2022

in general

Gabbert is the ranking Bucs' quarterback./Tim Wirt

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Here we are, then. At the outset of a new reality.

The back of Tom Brady is growing smaller in the distance. He has taken his greatness, and the part of it he gave to the Tampa Bay Bucs, and gone home. From now on, if you want to watch him, you'll have to wait for a Subway commercial.

Without him, of course, the Bucs are less.

But how much less?

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If any team should know how hard it is to find a quarterback, it is the Bucs. For years they tried, going through Jack Thompson and Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer and Josh Freeman and Josh McCown and a thousand other wannabes.

This time, the team has to do better or it is betraying the talent they have.

Around them, the NFC South is falling apart. The question remains whether the Bucs will fall on the heap.

History tells us that the Bucs would be foolish to depend on what remains of their quarterback room to carry this team. Blaine Gabbert has ridden one team's bench or the other for nine years. Kyle Trask hasn't thrown an NFL pass in his life. Ryan Griffin didn't throw one this year.

So how far do the Bucs fall?

If history tells us anything, it could be quite the plunge.

Go back to 1981, at the end of the Bucs' first good run. On August 19, at the end of a bitter contract dispute, quarterback Doug Williams left the Bucs for the USFL's Arizona Outlaws. The Bucs weren't ready for his departure. The Bucs had been to three payoffs in four years, including an NFC title.

The Bucs, prompt;u, went into the outhouse. They had 14 straight losing seasons, chasing this mediocre quarterback and that one. When Lee Roy Selmon left two seasons later, the team became a punch line.

Ah, you say. But that was the sad old days, back when Hugh Culverhouse ran the team in his bumbling way.

But it happened again. Go back to the off-season after the 2003 season. The Bucs were one season removed from their first Super Bowl, and they had been to the playoffs in five out of six years behind Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy. But the Bucs let Warren Sapp and John Lynch, Hall of Famers, go via free agency. Rich McKay, in his duel with Gruden, left for Atlanta.

After that, it was back to Dreadful City. The Bucs went 17 years without winning another playoff game.

Then came Brady.

And then he went.

For the next few months, it will be the job of the Bucs' ownership, and the front office, to keep this run going. Others have failed. But the Bucs need to be desperate in finding a new passer -- because they are. Trade? Draft? Free agency? All roads are open.

Hey, the Bucs have some talent left. If they can chase the quarterback -- despite limited draft capital -- they have a chance of not falling off a cliff.

If not, they might fall for a long time.

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