Caught in the middle of this unusual quarterback market, the Buccaneers still have a major decision to make. Shaquil Barrett has been mentioned as the player likely to receive Tampa Bay’s franchise tag, leaving Jameis Winston in limbo. And another quarterback has surfaced as a potential target.
The Bucs, who have been linked to a Philip Rivers pursuit, are being connected to Teddy Bridgewater. They were the team most closely tied to a Bridgewater run at the Combine, per Larry Holder of The Athletic (on Twitter), with one GM mentioning (via Mike Sando of The Athletic, subscription required) the Bucs are indeed interested in the former Vikings starter and two-year Saints backup.
This would be a significant course change for the Bucs, who have started Winston in 70 games since using the No. 1 overall pick in 2015 on him. But the former Heisman winner has not overcome his interception habit, throwing 30 INTs last season.
Tampa Bay may well prioritize Rivers over Winston, who could well hit the market if the Bucs use their franchise tag on Barrett, and GM Jason Licht confirmed the Bucs are investigating other quarterbacks. That would be an interesting turn of events for a quarterback who threw for 5,109 yards — a career-high by over 1,000 — and 33 touchdowns in 2019.
Bridgewater helped the Saints to a 5-0 record last season and has begun to generate interest, with Peter King of NBC Sports noting a market for the 2014 first-round pick has begun to form. Teams are viewing the 27-year-old passer as a starter, though he’s obviously overshadowed on this market by Rivers and Tom Brady. The Saints are not expected to bring back Bridgewater.
Bridgewater and Winston displayed widely contrasting styles last season as well, with the former ranking last in Next Gen Stats’ average intended air yards metric (6.2) and third from the bottom in average completed air yards (4.6) in 2019. Winston was second in both metrics (10.5, 8.2). Bridgewater threw nine touchdown passes and two INTs last season. He threw 14 TDs in both 2014 and ’15, before 2016 injuries sidetracked his career.
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