Calling all bettors! Tom Brady is (checks notes) still retired. Is this somehow not bad news for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that, on paper, should still be a strong playoff contender? How will free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft impact their chances of winning Super Bowl 58? The following betting odds are based on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl 58 Odds and Futures
Last February’s early odds for Super Bowl 57 offered clues on what sportsbooks were thinking and how that wove into the thinking of the broader betting market.
For example, the Kansas City Chiefs were the top favorite (+650 odds) of winning this year’s Super Bowl, while the Buffalo Bills were No. 2. Not too shabby as far as year-long predictions go.
But the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers were Nos. 3 and 4, respectively — though, in fairness, Davante Adams’ status in Green Bay remained unclear at that point. The Tennessee Titans (No. 9) and Denver Broncos (No. 10) clearly underwhelmed. The Eagles weren’t even in the top third.
Interestingly, the Bucs were outside the top 10 with +2200 odds. Of course, that was right after Brady’s first retirement. After the dust settled on his prompt return and the rest of Tampa Bay’s eventful offseason, the team was sitting pretty with +780 odds, behind only the Bills.
So what happened? How could this preseason front-runner limp into the playoffs before suffering a disastrously lopsided opening-round home defeat? Let’s examine their 2022 campaign, and how bettors should respond ahead of next season.
Tom Brady and Other 2022 Season Takeaways
When a future Hall of Famer retires, it’s big news. When the most decorated NFL player in history retires — this time seemingly for good — in a career that began a few months into this century . . . well, there’s no way to adequately synthesize its impact. Whether this marks the dawn of the Kyle Trask era or some other era, either short term or long term, we cannot ignore the hole left by Brady’s absence.
Now then, let’s talk candidly about what that hole looks like. Brady walked away after enduring one of the worst seasons of his career. In fairness, his offensive line (marred in part by injuries) didn’t do him any favors, as Brady averaged less time to throw than every other NFL QB.
In fairness, Brady looked less like the Super Bowl-winning Brady of two years ago, and more like the Supel Bowl-winning Peyton Manning of seven years ago. I’m not saying Brady was “bad.” But across most metrics (TD%, yards per attempt, etc.), he looked like a husk of his former self. Still capable of miraculous comebacks. Still gritty and brilliant. But lacking the ability to operate like a top-10 quarterback, perhaps even top 14.
We cannot justifiably pity Brady for having a bad offensive line. Several quarterbacks had it as bad or worse, and some thrived regardless. The 45-year-old Brady did not, despite having one of the best WR tandems in the league (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin).
No doubt, the 2023 Bucs already are in trouble, because it’s unclear whether Trask will need a year or two or more to become a “franchise” QB — or whether he’ll be benched midseason with the franchise stuck in neutral.
It’s also unclear whether Tampa’s running game can rebound after finishing last in 2022 with 3.4 yards per carry, the second-worst tally in three seasons — only a fraction of a yard ahead of the 2021 Texans, led by 31-year-old Rex Burkhead.
Rachaad White might be Tampa Bay’s bell cow of the future. Evans, Godwin, and tight end Cade Otton might form a terrific trio, helping to elevate whoever’s throwing to them. Perhaps they can right the ship on defense with a couple of key offseason moves.
But 2022 showed us how fragile this team is if everything isn’t clicking just right. Virtually no one exceeded preseason expectations. And now, without their legendary quarterback, the Bucs will need to regroup, moderately rebuild, and try to capitalize as quickly as possible in an AFC South that might not be truly competitive until 2024.
2023 Offseason Moves
The Bucs’ eight largest expiring contracts are for players aged 30 and up to begin the 2023 season. This is an old unit designed to win championships with Brady at the helm. Now it’s in a sort of no man’s land, with one foot in rebuilding mode and the other in a “Can we win now?” mode.
Currently, the Buccaneers are tied with the Patriots with the ninth-worst odds to win Super Bowl 58 at +6000. That seems a bit misguided for a squad that’s a few pieces away from going 10-7 or better and winning their relatively weak division. At that point, anything is possible.
NFL Free Agency
March 15 Update: Operating primarily with preseason backups, Baker Mayfield briefly revived his career with the Los Angeles Rams. As a result, the Bucs came knocking, signing him to a one-year prove-it deal. I doubt Tampa Bay is finished signing QBs this offseason. The window on their “elite” receiving corps is closing.
In the coming weeks, we’ll update this section with breaking news on key Buccaneers arrivals and departures through free agency and trades, how it impacts their Super Bowl odds, and how it might inform our decision to bet on them to somehow win it all.
In early May, we’ll update this section on key Buccaneers draft picks and UDFA signings, with an eye toward any instant-impact players who could help catapult them as contenders.