The Buccaneers’ quarterback situation for 2015 remains uncertain for now, but the team has decided to remove at least one veteran from the equation. According to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (via Twitter), the Bucs are releasing quarterback Josh McCown from their roster. The team has since confirmed the move, via a press release.
Coming off an excellent run in Chicago in which he threw 13 touchdowns and just one interception in relief of Jay Cutler in 2013, McCown inked a two-year, $10MM deal with the Bucs last offseason. Many observers viewed the contract warily, since McCown has been a backup for most of his NFL career, posting a 71.2 QB rating in 54 total games (33 starts) prior to ’13. McCown’s age-35 season, his lone year as Tampa Bay’s primary starter, didn’t go well — he won just one of 11 starts, throwing more INTs (14) than TDs (11), and completing just 56.3% of his passes.
McCown’s deal didn’t include a signing bonus, so the Buccaneers won’t be on the hook for any dead money in 2015 — the club creates $5.25MM in cap savings by clearing the veteran’s entire base salary from its books. It’s also possible that McCown won’t be the last QB the Bucs part ways with this offseason. Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato remain on the roster, and Glennon has been cited frequently as a potential trade candidate. Given how weak this year’s market is for signal-callers – both in free agency and in the draft – Glennon could potentially net Tampa Bay a mid-round draft pick.
While there aren’t many long-term quarterback solutions expected to be available in the draft, there are two solid options at the top of the class, and the Bucs, armed with the No. 1 overall pick, will have their choice of either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. A report earlier today suggested that head coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston, though with the combine, pro days, and individual interviews still on tap, plenty could change between now and April 30.
As for McCown, he re-enters the quarterback market a year after signing the largest deal at his position. The free agent market for quarterbacks, which I examined on Monday, looks just as weak this winter as it did in 2014. Teams may prefer players like Brian Hoyer and Mark Sanchez to McCown, but the former third-round pick should be among the top options on the board.
One potentially intriguing destination for McCown could be Baltimore. He wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete for a starting job with Joe Flacco locked in as the starter, but the Ravens could be in the market for a backup with Tyrod Taylor facing free agency, and Baltimore’s new offensive coordinator is Marc Trestman, who got the most out of McCown in Chicago. Of course, given the number of teams that figure to seek a veteran to compete for a No. 1 role, and the lack of top-notch options available, McCown may prefer an opportunity that could lead to more playing time.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.