New England Patriots

TAMPA, FL – OCTOBER 5: Tom Brady of the New England Patriots makes his way off the field following the Patriots’ 19-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at an NFL football game on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

Believe the hype: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ‘all in’ on soon-to-be free agent quarterback Tom Brady. That’s according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, anyway.

In his column, Stroud noted that the Bucs’ interest is not merely hype or fantasy, but that they’re going to enter the legal tampering period with their sights set on the 42-year-old Brady. According to Stroud, he’s at the top of the wish list for Bruce Arians’ team and will be the first player they call next week. It’s as real as can be for a team straight-up desperate to end a decade-plus long playoff drought.

And Arians, for what it’s worth, hasn’t shied away from discussing his potential interest in Brady should he hit the open market as expected.

“Tom Brady,” Arians said last month when discussing potential quarterback options he would be interested in meeting in free agent. “Philip [Rivers] is another guy. We’ll see.”

With a projected $80 million in cap space, Tampa Bay has the cash to make a Brady deal work, especially if it’s guaranteed money that the career-long Patriot is after on his next deal. The Bucs also have serious weapons on offense — from wideouts Mike Evans to Chris Godwin and tight ends O.J Howard and Cameron Brate — and are likely to add more in the draft or free agency. And there’s also the fact that Arians, who has coached countless top-tier quarterbacks during his time in the NFL, has an obvious interest in Brady, and thus would almost willing hand complete control of the offense to the six-time champion.

The Bucs are not going to be alone in their pursuit of Brady, as everybody knows by now. It seems like everybody — from the Patriots (obviously) to the Titans to the Raiders to the Chargers — are going to be interested in making their pitches.

Will it be a successful one? Who knows. There’s still a ton of unknowns when it comes to Brady and his next stop (if there even is a next stop), but when Tampa Bay calls Don Yee, it’s clear that it won’t just be for show.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.