Yesterday afternoon, news broke in Florida that the Buccaneers had cut veteran quarterback Josh McCown after only one season. McCown had an up and down year with only 11 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He also suffered from an arm injury and lost his starting job to the much younger Mike Glennon. This seems like a pretty routine move for a team to make, cutting a veteran quarterback who struggled this past year. However, the Bucs also hold the number one overall pick so this might project as to what the Bucs are planning to do with that pick.
It might be a bit of stretch to say, but this seems like a vote of confidence in Glennon. Logically speaking, a team who was planning to draft a rookie quarterback would probably want to keep around the knowledgeable veteran who can act as a teacher for a year before the rookie takes over the following season. That would have been the perfect role for McCown tutoring either Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. McCown’s contract would have expired at the end of next season leaving it for one of those two signal callers to take the reins. Glennon would represent the intriguing trade piece that the Bucs might be able to convert into a mid-round draft pick in either of the next two years.
Instead, it seems like Tampa is preparing to buy into the North Carolina State product Glennon. He has shown some promise in his first two seasons. He played 13 games his rookie year and completed almost 60 percent of his passes. He also tallied 19 touchdowns to only 9 interceptions. This year Glennon’s numbers dropped slightly but that can likely be attributed to a much worse supporting cast and sporadic playing time that never allowed him to find a rhythm. He still through 10 touchdowns in only 6 games and limited himself to as many interceptions as he played games. His total quarterback rating even jumped up to 55.9. That’s not anything special but that is a solid number for a young quarterback.
If the Bucs truly are buying into Glennon then there are a couple of things we could see happen in the weeks leading up to draft day. There are several teams looking to make a move up to select either Winston or Mariota. The most likely suitor could be St. Louis who is toying with the idea of releasing oft-injured Sam Bradford as he will account for $17 million for 2015 if he is on the roster. Cutting him would save St. Louis almost 13 million. If the Rams were willing to give up a veteran, starting lineman and their pick at number 10, I think we could see these two teams swap picks.
However, if the Bucs aren’t really sold on Glennon and are looking to bring in a veteran then I think they have two options here. The Eagles have made it known that they would love to land Mariota, whom Eagles coach Chip Kelly recruited to Oregon when he was running the program. Philadelphia might be able to send Nick Foles, who the team has been rumored to have been shopping, and a late round pick in exchange for the number one pick. The other team that could be in the mix is Kansas City. This team has a lot of problems on the offensive side of the ball but in a year where the free agent class of wide receivers is looking stronger than ever, the Chiefs may be able to turn their attention elsewhere. Alex Smith is a good, veteran quarterback but he has been more of a game manager throughout his career. If the Bucs want to build a team based on running the ball and efficient quarterback play, Smith could be their guy.
We also cannot rule out the Buccaneers simply looking at a position other than quarterback at number one. Nebraska’s Randy Gregory is a great linebacker who has made his name putting pressure on the quarterback. He could be a plug and play helping Tampa’s defense get after division rivals Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees. Leonard Williams out of USC might also be a fit. He played mostly inside in college but has the skills to play anywhere along the defensive line. Either way he would be a huge asset to Tampa’s unit. Lovie Smith made Chicago a Super Bowl caliber team with a great defense and Rex Grossman at quarterback. Don’t be surprised if he follows the defense first formula again.