Tampa Bay Buccaneers Are of 2 Minds When It Comes to Kyle Trask

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a difficult spot when it comes to the quarterback position. The answers they gave on Kyle Trask are revealing.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a difficult spot given the retirement of Tom Brady and the quarterback issue this creates for them, something they readily acknowledge. Both Todd Bowles and Jason Licht acknowledged the enormity — perhaps too often — of the task at hand.

The next question is whether or not 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask is ready to take on the demands of a starter — or whether he should even be considered the starter next year. The answers Licht and Bowles gave are interesting not because they were the same boilerplate answers we see every year from coaches and executives, but because they trended in opposite directions.

Jason Licht and Todd Bowles Gave Different Answers to the Kyle Trask Question

Licht emphasized the organization’s enthusiasm about Trask, saying, “We’re very excited about Kyle. Very excited about him getting an opportunity to be the starter. [We’re excited] for him to get a chance to be with the starters in offseason, starters in training camp, starters in preseason, which he’s never done.”

He added that the Buccaneers didn’t draft a quarterback in the second round just to be a “third-string quarterback” and that Trask’s record play in the SEC was impressive enough for him to earn consideration as a starter.

This echoes reports that the Buccaneers informed offensive coordinator candidates that they expect Trask to be in a starting quarterback competition.

On the other hand, Bowles — who never outright disagreed with the notion that they were excited about Trask or that he deserved a chance to start — found himself discussing the possibility of adding a starting-quality quarterback to the roster in free agency. When asked if the cap would constrain them from signing a high-level starter, Bowles said, “It doesn’t. But we’re going to be smart about it.”

“If the guy has a long-term plan, or can hang out and play with us, we’ll take a look at it,” he said. “It’s also a desirable place because we do have talent around them, and people may want to come in and one-year prove-it deals. So, we’ll see what happens in the next two or three weeks, and we’ll go down forward, but we have a plan.”

That later became an even stronger point — former Buccaneers head coach and Bowles mentor Bruce Arians strongly preferred having a starting quarterback settled before training camp, and Bowles is well aware of that. When asked if that preference would impact his offseason, he said, “It all depends on who we sign. We’ll see, and we’ll kind of go from there.”

MORE: Should the Buccaneers Sign a Veteran QB To Mentor Trask?

That’s hardly a commitment to Trask as a potential franchise player.

When asked if the investment that they’ve made in Trask — one that Licht emphasized — precluded a drafted quarterback, Bowles once again said no.

“It doesn’t preclude you from anything, you know,” he said. “It’s gonna be competition at every spot. That’s gonna be every year.”

Bowles added multiple times that Trask would be part of a quarterback competition, saying, “Kyle will compete. He’s the only one on the roster right now. He works hard — he worked at it in the offseason, and we’ll see what he can do. I think everybody’s coming into it with a clean slate with a new coordinator, so everybody will be learning at the same time.”

Certainly, it seems as if the Buccaneers aren’t willing to throw the possibility of Trask as a starter away. But the idea that they’re committed to him seems overblown. Compare what both Licht and Bowles said about Trask to what Steelers general manager Omar Khan said about Kenny Pickett: “We’re excited about Kenny. We have our quarterback.”

The Buccaneers are keenly aware of the fact that the NFC South is wide open. No team has a settled quarterback, and the Bucs might have the best supporting cast in the division. Wasting that on an unknown could be foolhardy when the Saints, Panthers, or Falcons have the opportunity to sign a starting quality player and rocket ahead in the divisional race.

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