The suspense is building. More and more signs point toward Tom Brady winding up in Tampa Bay, including media personality Colin Cowherd saying he’s heard from a non-football, celebrity source close to the star quarterback that the Buccaneers are the choice.
But people who have followed the Buccaneers for years know not to hold their breath. No franchise has been left at the altar by stars more than Tampa Bay.
That goes for both coaches and players who came oh-so-close to donning the Buccaneers throwback orange and white before their resolve melted like a Creamsicle in the sun.
Bo Jackson was drafted No. 1 overall by the Buccaneers in 1986 but refused to play for them after a flight to their headquarters cost him his college baseball eligibility. Green Bay came so close to trading Brett Favre there, it led to one of those embarrassing “Dewey Defeats Truman” headlines in a Florida paper that was sure the Packers great was on the way.
Steve Spurrier almost coached Tampa Bay. So did Jimmy Johnson, Steve Mariucci, Chip Kelly, and Bill Parcells — twice.
So forgive Buccaneers fans if they aren’t diving into the deep end of the Brady-palooza pool.
That said, the Buccaneers make a lot of sense. They have a better offensive line than the Chargers, the other team vying for Brady’s services, with their only desperate need on the blocking front being at right tackle.
They have the 14th pick in this year’s draft and enough salary-cap space to maneuver, even if they were to sign Brady. They need a pass-catching running back, which they can pick up in the draft or free agency. The receiving tandem of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin far exceeds anything Brady has had in New England, dating to the Randy Moss era.
Tampa Bay has a star-studded defense that doesn’t always play up to its capabilities but has the potential to be consistently outstanding.
Even with Drew Brees lurking in New Orleans, the NFC South is more winnable for the Buccaneers than the AFC West is for the Chargers, who were winless in their division last season.
It also has to entice Brady that free-wheeling Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians is the antithesis of New England’s Bill Belichick, who is wound tighter than a pinpoint spiral.
Yes, the Buccaneers have gone 12 years without making the playoffs, but Brady could be the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl on his home field, as the game will be in Tampa next February.
But again, before they get too excited, true Buccaneers historians will wait until the ink dries.