Are the Bucs the most ‘impressive’ team that would trade Bill Belichick?
TAMPA — No one really knows what’s going on under the hood. But it’s largely true: The Bucs have made a major trade for an AFC coach before.
They also brought in a six-time Super Bowl winner from New England at an age where people said he was past his prime and won a Super Bowl.
Can they do it again and make a deal for Patriots coach Bill Belichick?
It seems unbelievable. Also, a little reasonable.
Let’s be clear: Todd Bowles’ coaching bench may be on fire. But given the fact that the Glazers don’t fire coaches during the season, he’ll likely get every opportunity to salvage his team’s 4-7 start.
Sunday’s loss to the 10-1 Carolina Panthers, who just relieved coach Frank Reich of his duties, might be a different conversation.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio believes the “most fascinating” team to watch in a potential Belichick sweepstakes is the Bucs.
Since Tom Brady left the Patriots to sign with the Bucs in 2020 and led them to a Super Bowl championship and three straight playoff appearances, the winningest NFL coach not named Don Shula has struggled through three of the past four losing seasons.
The speculation from Bridgeport to Bangor is that Belichick is done after this season in New England.
He turns 72 in April. With Brady under center, Belichick enjoyed 18 of his 19 double-digit winning seasons with the Patriots. Without Brady, he’s been 27-34 over the past three seasons.
Belichick controls all personnel decisions for the Patriots, but has been unable to find a suitable replacement for Brady. The list includes Cam Newton, Mac Jones and Billy Zappe. It appears that Steve Grogan was not available.
But Florio expects New England to quietly broker a trade and make a mutual parting ways at the end of the 2023 season.
“I think what will happen behind the scenes over the next six to seven weeks, they will work to reach an agreement,” Florio said. “If there’s an agreement that’s going to be reached, it’s going to be reached quietly between the Patriots, wherever he ends up and Belichick, and then after the season, all the dominoes will be lined up and it’s just a matter of clicking the first domino at the right time and it’s all going to fall together the way it won’t.” We know it only after it happens.
“So the teams to keep an eye on…the Buccaneers, the Panthers, the Commanders, the Chargers, those are the four I keep a close eye on. And of those, I think the most fascinating one is the Buccaneers.”
Before you dismiss the idea of a trade for Belichick, remember that the Bucs dealt two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million to the Raiders for Jon Gruden in 2002.
That worked well.
The Glazers also have a history of working behind the scenes to get what they want. They are great hunters
They had a secret deal with Bill Parcells to coach the Bucs before Tony Dungy coached his final game in Tampa. Parcells got cold feet and became a runaway bride for the second time. Former owner Hugh Culverhouse believed he had a deal with Parcells after the 1991 season.
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But the Glazers often swung for the fences. They tried to hire Steve Spurrier and Jimmy Johnson after they bought the team in 1995 before giving the job to Dungy.
They thought they had an agreement with Chip Kelly to leave Oregon after Raheem Morris was fired after the 2011 season. He backed out at the last minute, and it was over with Greg Schiano. Gruden arrived after the Bucs failed to land 49ers Steve Mariucci.
The Glazers brought Bruce Arians out of retirement before the 2019 season and won Super Bowl 55 in his second season.
Belichick’s brand may be slightly damaged, but the man has 300 victories, just 47 shy of tying Shula for the most in NFL history.
The Glazers know they can instantly become relevant again in the national media by bringing Belichick to Tampa Bay.
There are obvious ties to Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who worked for Belichick from 2009-11 as the Patriots’ director of personnel.
Licht will likely cede some of his personal authority to Belichick, but everything is negotiable. But this seems a bit far-fetched for several reasons.
Let’s start with the fact that Brady left New England and Belichick, winning the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay. Will Belichick risk tarnishing his brand further if he’s not able to do the same?
Unlike when Gruden was traded from the Raiders and Brady left the Patriots as a free agent, the Bucs are not a Super Bowl-ready team. Now more than ever, they need to hold on to their draft picks in hopes of revamping an eroding roster.
Also, while Baker Mayfield has played well for the most part, he is on his fourth team and playing on a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Who will play quarterback for the Bucs in 2024 if they give up draft picks to the Patriots for Belichick?
Unfortunately, this is the time of year when there is speculation about coaches’ poor performance. Florio is right about one thing. It’s a great.
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