Tom Brady’s sudden retirement announcement has shocked the NFL. After briefly retiring last offseason, before opting to return for the 2022 season, many folks figured Brady wouldn’t want the final season of his career to be such a disappointing one. But in the blink of an eye, his legendary career is over, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are forced to scramble to overcome his monumental loss.

The Buccaneers knew this day was going to come eventually after they signed Brady in the 2020 offseason and failed to properly find their next quarterback, but beyond that, there are holes on this roster that destroyed this team in 2022. The offensive line was one of the worst in the league, and their defense struggled to consistently shut down their opponents.

With Brady gone, those issues have immediately become ten times more pressing, and answers are going to be needed this offseason. So with Brady officially riding off into the sunset, let’s take a look at three major moves Tampa Bay has to make this offseason in order to properly determine the future of their franchise.

3. Apply the franchise tag on Jamel Dean

Similar to last offseason, the Buccaneers have several key free agents hitting the market at the same time. They aren’t all going to be returning to Tampa Bay, especially now that Brady is gone, which prompted many of their free agents to re-sign last offseason. Among the crop of free agents they have is Jamel Dean, who is going to be one of the top cornerback options on the market.

After solidifying his spot as a starter alongside Carlton Davis in 2021, Dean took another step forward in 2022, and was basically the equivalent of Davis, who is considered a top-tier cornerback, for much of the season. Dean’s counting stats are solid (57 tackles, 2 INT, 8 PD, 1 TFL) although it is worth noting that his coverage statistics did take a step back, which is a little bit concerning.

Still, Dean is only 26, and has proven himself to a starting caliber cornerback who still has a lot of upside. If he hits the open market, he will be gone in the blink of an eye. Even if the Buccaneers don’t intend on re-signing Dean to a long-term deal, applying the franchise tag on him will give them time to assess their options and potentially trade him. Otherwise, they will likely lose him for nothing in free agency.

2. Trade Mike Evans

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Mike Evans had a bit of a frustrating 2022 campaign, but he still remains arguably the most consistent wide receiver in the NFL. Evans surpassed the 1000 yard receiving mark for the ninth straight season, and remained Brady’s go-to target in the passing game. His numbers are good (77 REC, 1124 YDS, 6 TD) but it feels like Evans’ campaign left a lot to be desired.

Trading Evans may seem outrageous, but it’s really not as crazy of an idea as it may seem. Evans will turn 30 in August, and while he’s never missed more than three games in a season, he always seems to be dealing with some sort of injury ailment. Evans also is entering the final year of his deal in 2023, and chances are he will find a new home if he ends up hitting free agency.

The Buccaneers are going to have to decide if they want to contend moving forward in 2023 this offseason, or rebuild. But regardless, it seems like it’s time to move on from Evans. They still have a top wideout in Chris Godwin, but there’s a decent chance a rebuild is staring down Tampa Bay in the near future, and if they don’t accept that now, it will come back to bite them sooner rather than later.

1. Find a new quarterback

Well, there’s obviously a massive hole at quarterback now that Brady is gone, so the biggest thing the Buccaneers are going to have to do this offseason is, you guessed it, find their new quarterback. Again, their strategy will depend heavily on whether they want to try to contend again moving forward, or if they decide to blow things up and rebuild now that Brady is gone.

There are several immediate solutions for them at quarterback for the 2023 season, but again, a rebuilding mentality would change everything for Tampa Bay. They could look to trade for a guy like Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr, but if they want to rebuild, using their first-round draft pick, which is the 19th overall pick, on a quarterback would make a lot of sense as well.

A more likely strategy could see the Bucs decide to sign a fill-in quarterback in free agency, such as Jacoby Brissett or Baker Mayfield, and have them hold down the fort for one season, allowing Tampa Bay to get a higher first-round pick in 2024, where there is expected to be a much stronger quarterback class. Whatever the case, though, finding the next quarterback to replace Brady is huge, and the decision that the Buccaneers make here will play a massive role in determining the future of this franchise.