5 Veteran Free-Agent QB Targets for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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5 Veteran QB Targets for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

lovie smith
Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

Lovie Smith laid out his plans for the quarterback position in his first offseason as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it involves adding some fresh talent to the mix. After a tumultuous end to the Josh Freeman era in 2013, rookie Mike Glennon stepped in and started the final 13 games of the season. He’s one of just two quarterbacks on the Tampa Bay roster right now (along with Mike Kafka) and Smith is committed to adding at least a couple of quarterbacks during the offseason.

That means that Tampa will be taking a hard look at the quarterbacks available with the No. 7 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Smith said that “Whenever you have a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you have to consider that,” and will be taking a good look at quarterback prospects like Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, and Derek Carr at the NFL Combine. But even if the Bucs go with a quarterback with their first pick in the draft, Smith would like to see the team also add a veteran to the mix to go with the rookie and Glennon in 2014.

Smith expressed his desire to “have some kind of veteran in the mix” when the Bucs open the 2014 season and not rely solely on “three young guys that haven’t played a lot.” That means the team is likely going to be active in free agency looking to bring an older QB with some playing experience to town to compete for the starting job next season. Smith praised what Glennon was able to do in his rookie campaign but said that he needs to see more out of him before turning the team completely over to the young signal caller.

So who will the Bucs go out and sign? Here are five free-agent quarterbacks that should be on Tampa Bay’s radar this offseason.

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5. Michael Vick

michael vick
Brace Hemmelgarn - USA TODAY Sports

Michael Vick is considered the No. 1 free agent quarterback on the market this offseason but his expectations and style of play may not mesh with what Tampa is trying to accomplish in 2014. Vick believes he is a starting quarterback and will be expecting to step into a situation where the offense is turned over to him. Will he want to compete for the job with a young QB who may have an edge from a familiarity standpoint with the offensive personnel around them? And will the Bucs want to invest in a scrambling quarterback with an injury history?

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4. Rex Grossman

rex grossman
Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports

Lovie Smith went to a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears with Rex Grossman as his quarterback. The 12-year veteran hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2006 and hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since 2011 since becoming the No. 3 quarterback for the Washington Redskins the last two seasons. His OC over the last four years, Kyle Shanahan, reportedly wants to bring Grossman with him to his new gig with the Cleveland Browns, so there is some competition for his services. Will familiarity help Smith and Grossman reunite in Tampa for the 2014 season?

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3. Shaun Hill

shaun hill
Andrew Weber - USA TODAY Sports

Shaun Hill has served as the primary backup for Matt Stafford with the Detroit Lions for the last four seasons but hasn’t seen significant playing time since 2010. That season, he played in 11 games, completed 61.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,686 yards with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Since then, he’s come to be considered one of the steadiest backup veteran quarterbacks in the league and will be one of the top free agent quarterbacks available this offseason. Will the Bucs look to the 34-year-old veteran to add some experience to the quarterback competition in 2014?

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2. Matt Cassel

matt cassel
Trevor Ruszkowski - USA TODAY Sports

The 31-year-old Matt Cassel opted out of his contract with the Minnesota Vikings to become a free-agent in 2014 but may not hit the open market for Tampa to even pursue him. The Vikings are meeting with Cassel and are reportedly ready to pay to keep the veteran in town and skip taking another quarterback in the draft. Cassel hasn’t played in more than nine games a season since 2010 with the Kansas City Chiefs as injuries and ineffectiveness have hampered him since he had a breakout year with the New England Patriots in 2008. He had a bit of a bounceback season in 2013, completing 60.2 percent of his passes (the highest since leaving New England) over nine games for 1,807 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Could the Bucs take a chance on Cassel if he makes it to free agency?

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1. Josh McCown

josh mccown
Scott Kane - USA TODAY Sports

After stepping in for an injured Jay Cutler and leading Chicago to a 3-2 record over five starts, nobody may be ready to cash in this offseason quite like Josh McCown. The 34-year-old journeyman quarterback showed he still has plenty to offer as a quarterback in the NFL in his limited time under center in 2013 and could spin that success into a possible starting job in 2014. Chicago has a lot of interest in keeping McCown on the roster to back up an oft-injured Cutler but Tampa could benefit from his steady approach under center even if he doesn’t end up winning the starting quarterback job. Could the Bucs be a landing spot for the highly sought-after McCown?


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