“They’re Gonna Pay Him”

January 26th, 2024

The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports, Ira Kaufman, caught up to Bucco Bruce Arians, senior advisor to Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht.


Tampa Bay’s dismantling of the Eagles in the opening playoff round was a surreal moment for the man who hand-picked his successor as Bucs coach.

Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles have known each other for four decades. There have been ups and downs for both men, hirings and dismissals that tested their resolve. At one point in this roller-coaster of a season, Arians grew concerned that Bowles and a staff assembled primarily by Arians were about to be shown the door.

“When we were 4-7, I was really worried for them,” Arians said from his Tampa home this week. “Then they kind of righted the ship. I knew we’d probably win the division, some how, some way, but to beat Philly after Philly had embarrassed us here, that was huge.

Bucco Bruce Arians

“In getting to what they accomplished, beating the crap out of Philly, that was a hell of a job by Todd and the staff. I think there was some stuff going on in the locker room that Todd controlled really well. I was really, really happy for him and all the guys because back in October, I thought they were all getting fired.”

For Arians, it was the even-keel demeanor of Bowles that held the Bucs together through a torturous 1-6 stretch.

“Todd never changes, that’s what I love about him,” said Arians. “He’s not going to go up and down and he’s not going to panic. He’s going to stay steady because he believes in what he does.”

Arians didn’t travel with the team this season and he was hardly a regular presence at One Buc Place. Still, he was available if Bowles sought his advice. In the second year of the transition from Arians to Bowles, the previous coach made it a point to let everyone know Bowles was fully in charge.

When the Bucs dropped a 31-23 decision at Ford Field last week in the divisional round, Arians watched intently, proud of Tampa Bay’s fight.

“Three plays, man,” he lamented. “The missed field goal was huge and we missed a couple of blitz pickups. That’s really the only way they stopped us. We were going up and down the field pretty good. Give Detroit credit — that Jahmyr Gibbs is a hell of a player, man. Jared Goff looked down the barrel of getting drilled and threw the ball down the field right on the money a couple of times.

“We were a step away from just killing his ass a couple of times. He was the No. 1 pick in the draft for a reason. When we played Goff out there in Los Angeles, we scored 55 and held onto our ass because he scored 40. He’s got more pocket awareness than he used to and the job Dan Campbell has done with that team is amazing. For Todd to go into that environment and still have a shot at the end is a hell of a job.”

After Further Review

Arians firmly believes Byron Leftwich took too much heat in 2022 for Tampa Bay’s plodding attack. He suggested there were other factors in play, including erratic efforts turned in by a distracted Tom Brady.

Bowles hired Dave Canales in February to replace Leftwich and now Canales has been named head coach of the Panthers after only one season as an NFL offensive coordinator.

Arians liked the improvement of the now-former Bucs playcaller.

“Canales got better as the season went on,” Arians said. “I think he started listening more to some of the guys who were here rather than trying to do it all on his own. All first-time coordinators think they know everything and they’ve got to learn. I thought he made a few great calls in the Detroit game. That screen (12-yard TD pass to Rachaad White against a blitz) was a fantastic call.”

Arians reveled in the All-Pro season turned in by Antoine Winfield Jr. and the emergence of linebacker K.J. Britt.

“We knew Winfield was going to be a great player,” he said. “He’s proven everything we thought about him when we brought him in. That was a great (2020) draft we had with Tristan (Wirfs) and Winfield. Britt’s a thumper and that’s what you’ve got to have. I love the guy.”

Arians is aware that Jason Licht faces some tough offseason decisions regarding Mike Evans, Baker Mayfield, Winfield and Lavonte David.

“I don’t think we’re losing any of ’em,” said Arians. “Mike wants to stay here and they’re gonna pay him. I think Mayfield loves it here and is totally appreciative of the opportunity he found in Tampa. He loves the guys and the guys love him.”

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56 Responses to ““They’re Gonna Pay Him””

  1. Rod Munch Says:

    Arians firmly believes Byron Leftwich took too much heat in 2022 for Tampa Bay’s plodding attack.


    Leftwich did not get enough heat for the insanely poor job he did.

    In a scientific study, a blindfolded 7-year old could correctly predict 93% of the plays that Leftwich would call on 1st down, 2 days before they happened — that says something.

  2. Buccos Says:

    That’s what I like to hear. Straight from the horse’s mouth

  3. Jack Clark Says:

    Order of importance:
    1. Mike Evans
    2. Antoine Winfield Jr
    3. Lavonte David
    4. Baker Mayfield

  4. ATLBuc Says:

    C’mon back BA and bring that no risk it with you!!

  5. vitaslawnmower Says:

    Mike and Baker will be back. Winfield for sure. After those 3 its a mystery, Wirfs can be dealth with next year. I say, release shaq, gauge, and let ryan neal walk home. Draft DE round 1 or go OL . Lets go.

  6. Buccos Says:

    I noticed nobody mentioned Devin White except for when he referenced how well Todd handled some stuff in the locker room. I assume he was talking about White. And then he said how much he likes Britt. The writing is on the walll

  7. Boss Says:

    meh…not buying it.

  8. ATLBuc Says:

    Rod Munch Says:
    January 26th, 2024 at 3:05 pm
    Arians firmly believes Byron Leftwich took too much heat in 2022 for Tampa Bay’s plodding attack.


    Leftwich did not get enough heat for the insanely poor job he did


    Rod, I believe that Brady was in Byron’s ear too much. Remember, the consensus was that Brady orchestrated getting rid of BA to do away with his control of the offense i.e. BA’s red pen!!

  9. Dewey Selmon Says:

    I always called BA a blowhard but it was refreshing to here his take after not hearing from him for awhile. Somethings are better in small doses.

  10. KnoxvilleBuc Says:

    Let’s get it done! Love to see Wirfs extended, then Shaq take a cut and then let the dominos start falling.

  11. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Bruce is correct. Those guys want to stay together and Licht will do some GM voodoo to make it happen. And im seriously tired of the wailing and gnashing of teeth over losing a rookie OC that sort of sucked for a half year.

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Raymond James Stadium otherwise known as the Licht House or The Stadium on Dale Mabry Hwy is jammed full of #13 jerseys every game……far more than any other.

    The is little chance that the Bucs will let their #1 fan favorite go…..and also get nothing in return

  13. Chad Says:

    Jack Clark, baker should be tied with Mike at 1, because Mike don’t come back if baker ain’t the qb and maybe vice versa depending on money offered to him, then Winfield, then David and wirfs. Use all draft picks for oline and edge rushers and a corner or safety

  14. adam from ny Says:

    make the biscuit the OC…if for only one season…we could make a run to the superbowl with the biscuit !

  15. Gipper Says:

    RodMunch,JackClark, David aka “Milton”

    The above group of naysayers knows better than Arians. Bowles is a steady coach and did a nice job getting the team within a whisper of the NFC Championship. Not bad for a team projected to win 5 or 6 at the beginning of the season. I hope for Baker’s sake he gets the $45Mllion/year guaranteed that Demassage Watson got from Cleveland. Had Baker still been with the Browns they would be playing for the AFC Championship this week instead of Baltimore.

  16. Lol Says:

    Brady sucked his last year, but Leftwich’s playcalls were LOUSY THAT ENTIRE YEAR

  17. realistic-optimistic Says:

    Mike don’t come back if baker ain’t the qb

    I don’t remember Mike drawing this line in the sand. He was a Buccaneer long before Baker was. He’s been in the Tampa community far longer than Baker has. He and Licht have worked together for a long time. I’m pretty sure his desire to be a Buc is unaffected by Baker’s presence.

  18. darengibo Says:

    I honestly don’t think Evans is hinging his decision on Baker here or gone.. ME13 has had his share of Qbs throughout his career and still puts up numbers EACH and EVERY season!

  19. Cover deuce Says:

    The old ball coach directly contradicting your prediction that 13 and 6 are doomed to leave but hey just gloss right over that.

  20. Chad Says:

    Realistic-opportunist he said he wanted baker back, if baker ain’t there Mike will go play somewhere else, unless Bucs throw more money than what he’s worth. He did say he loved back and he wanted baker to be the qb so take it for what you will

  21. ATLBuc Says:

    Chad Says:
    January 26th, 2024 at 3:31 pm
    Jack Clark, baker should be tied with Mike at 1, because Mike don’t come back if baker ain’t the qb

    Mike would rather have Trask throw to him but being the ultimate professional that he is, he’s going to support the starting QB. Behind the scenes, he’s telling Bucs officials that he wants Trask next year.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    Jack Clark … Someone who everyone keeps dismissing as being vital is Chase McLaughlin. The average percentage of FGs Made is 84%. Chase hit on 93.5% and made 7-of-8 FGs from 50 yards plus. THAT’S MONEY IN THE BANK. For instance, in our very first game this year he hit a 57-yarder with 5 minutes left to put us ahead 20-17 against the Vikings (final score).

    No way we can afford to let him get away, but it’s gonna cost us. Matt Gay for instance is the highest paid kicker at $5.6 mil per season (he hit on 80.5% of his FGs this past year). My guess is that McLaughlin will get someplace between $4-$5 mil for about a 4-year contract.

    Can’t even venture a guess which contracts JL will work first, but I surmise that he’ll restructure several to start, as well as release a couple of players to improve our CAP space situation. IF we can do a decent long-term deal with Wirfs early-on, JL may very well be able to re-sign all 5 of our key FAs (Winfield, Evans, McLaughlin, LVD & Mayfield). It’ll require kicking the can down the road some more, but all 5 of those guys are important to this team, and thus worth it.

  23. Chad Says:

    God leave the trask stuff alone lol, they would draft a rookie qb and start him before ever starting trask haha

  24. WhinnyJoe Says:

    I heard that the Chiefs have there eyes on Trask to replace Mahomes. Did you see his stats this year (Mahomes).

    Did Mahomes sit behind TOM BRADY. NO. So he’s obviously worse than Trask…..

  25. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We have too much money tied up in Jensen & Gage to simply let them go…..I’m wondering if Jensen has anything left….
    We don’t have a lot of places we can go for money…..

  26. Woodenman Says:

    Chad l call BS on your crap Mike isn’t tied to BAKER never was and I am sure he has come out and said he enjoys playing for the Bucs and who the hell are you never seen on this blog before.

  27. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    “Chase McGlaughlin”

    I agree.

    If I were GM Chase’s deal would be one of the first contracts I get done.

    Not rocket science. 4 years $24M – $12M guaranteed.

    Then we can work on Evans, LVD, Winfield and Baker.

  28. Woodenman Says:

    Gripper they ain’t giving Baker 45 mil hell they can franchise him for 35 why would you give him 45 man you are really out there for Baker and no not a Trask fan

  29. Allbuccedup Says:

    Agree with Jack Clark show Mike the money he will be back irregardless of Mayfield. I am sure he wants Mayfield back but when push comes to shove its all about the money.

  30. optimisticbucsfan Says:

    EVans is nothing without someone throwing to him.

    Unless you have a QB lined up…you sign Baker…franchise at minimum.

    You have a former number 1 OA that has won 2 playoff games with 2 different teams. Historically, TWO crappy franchises.

    Baker is by far the #1 priority when all the chicks take out their emotions.

    Jerseys? Fan fav? WHO THE F CARES? QB’s are beyond difficult to find.

  31. D-Rok Says:

    Agree, DR. A reliable kicker is worth at minimum 2-3 wins in any given season.

  32. cometowin2 Says:


    Didn’t Chase have one blocked from 50 yards, plus the 50 yarder he missed Sunday that cost me $91 and change. I do agree to sign him to a long term deal. $5 million a year sounds about right. He has bounced around the league a lot previously so a 3 year deal with half guaranteed in case he reverts to his past performance.

  33. Weebs10 Says:

    Come back BA!!!

  34. HC Grover Says:


  35. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    BA was the HC of a super bowl winner but it was all Brady, who brought himself, Gronk, AB and elevated everyone’s game. Look how they did the year prior. BA and his “succession plan” stuck us with Leftwich and Bowles. Bucs need an offensive minded HC that won’t keep timeouts (Monken) and get a DC for todays game.

  36. Beeej Says:

    We CAN’T just cut Shaq, would still owe him something like $16 million, as he renegotiated once or twice to help with the cap. Of his guaranteed money for ’24, of he’s agreeable to splitting the difference, mebbe he back next year as a rotational player

  37. Couch Fan Says:

    EVans is nothing without someone throwing to him.

    This idiotic statement shows how uninformed you are. Evans makes the QBs look better than they are. He’s put up 1000 yard seasons with scrubs. You clearly arent a Bucs fan or you would know this. Nice try though.

  38. Prbucsfan Says:

    Dead on about Brady. Goodness he was hard to watch his last year. Apart from a few vintage drives he was a detriment to the team, a shell of himself.

  39. optimisticbucsfan Says:

    @ couch fan – how many times did he have to get fed the ball in the last game of the season to make sure the streak stayed alive. It’s at least THREE.

    He’s a great player. You think Mike made Brady look better than he was? STFU

    Winston was a joke.

    Mayfield threw to everyone not named Evans or Godwin and beat the Eagles so again…GTFO. Some of you are so emotional. Go watch Hallmark couch potato

  40. FortMyersDave Says:

    Agree with everyone on this post about McLaughlin, he did a great job but that 50 yard miss in Detroit did hurt. We will never know how the dynamics in the game could have been different if the Bucs had a 13-10 lead at the half. Chase finally missed a long one in a key spot. Still he deserves to be paid top kicker money but that miss may save the Bucs a bit of coin as a bargaining tool as the guy proved that he is simply a very good kicker but not automatic (minus the blocks which were not his fault) as his agent could have claimed if he was perfect for the year5 and made the kick instead of doinking it off of the upright at Ford Filed……

  41. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    Shaq has to go
    Jensen has to go
    Gage is gone
    Deva is probably gone.
    Them just the facts mam, the facts suck.
    We can keep mayfield, evans, Winfield, and David.

  42. Defense Rules Says:

    Pelsbuc61 … ‘Bucs need an offensive minded HC that won’t keep timeouts (Monken) and get a DC for todays game.’

    In the last 30 years, Bucs have had 8 head coaches. Five of those (Dungy, Raheem, Schiano, Lovie & Bowles) have been defensive-minded coaches, while 3 of them (Gruden, Dirk & BA) have been offensive-minded. Since you were apparently unimpressed with BA’s performance, look at the other two ..,

    o Chucky: 57-55 in 7 years here, but 45-51 after our 12-4 Super Bowl year which featured one of the Top-5 DEFENSES of all-time led by Monte Kiffin, and which bailed out Gruden’s 18th-ranked offense in numerous games (which is what his offenses ranked on average over the whole 7 years BTW).

    o Dirk: 19-29 in 3 years here whose offenses ranked #16 for those 3 years, but his defenses averaged a #23 ranking, and that was his undoing. Without strong defenses, his very average offenses went nowhere.

    Bucs have had offensive-minded HCs for 13 of the last 30 years, and their combined regular season record in those 13 years has been 107-102. On the winning side (barely) primarily thanks to BA’s 31-18 record (of course, according to you … ‘it was all Brady’). In reality however, we won 2 Super Bowls because both Chucky & BA were supported by outstanding defenses. TEAMS with strong offenses AND defenses win championships, and those TEAMS can be led by either offensive or defensive minded head coaches.

  43. Defense Rules Says:

    Cometowin2 … If we don’t pay Chase, someone else will. After JL’s historically bad luck with kickers, I’d pay him whatever he asks.

  44. OlBoy Says:

    I noticed what he didn’t say about Mayfield. So Mayfield will be appreciative of his opportunity
    and what he is offered or he’ll be franchise or move on I’m glad they aren’t all in on Baker. Kick that celan down the rd to next year or get another . Mike will get paid though so it’s all good

  45. Dave Pear Says:

    Bruce- we need you. Come on back and be Todd’s OC. And then you can help him prolong the obvious.

  46. David Says:

    If they want to sign Baker and Mike, they need to get a little input from them on the OC search. They don’t need to be heavily involved, but at least make them feel like their voices are heard.
    Absolutely no doubt in my mind Winfield is resigning a long-term contract and I believe they will structure Wirfs with a long-term deal so they have a good chance of freeing up another 20 to 30,000,000 in cap space.

    Just like Evans, I think LVD wants to retire a Buccaneer, they’re both loyal guys, but the chips have to fall in the right order so he thinks they’re going to be a relevant playoff team.

    The big one that scares me is if Houston throws a ton of money at Evans to entice him to a playoff caliber team in his state.

  47. David Says:

    As for Arian’s on Bowles… I like Bowles better than most. I think throughout the year he and Canales started adapting and stopped forcing the run quite as much. It shouldn’t be an issue with a new center and possibly left guard next year.

    There were times I wanted Bowles gone, but if he was not the DC, they’re probably giving up 5 to 7 more points per game. He’s done a remarkable job with constantly injured CBs and a nonexistent foreman pass rush.
    With Kancey and YaYa and another addition, that should change. They need another fast line backer and edge rusher though.

  48. TBChucky Says:

    Our ship is STILL sailing in the right direction! Look at all the interest in all of our assistant coaches.. Man.. the Panthers mortgaged their future for Bryce Young.. They’d look like fools for signing Baker after. Miss BA sooo much. His words always made me feel confident. Licht will get it done. Mike and Baker will be back! Mayfield is tired of moving..

  49. BakerFan Says:

    ATLBuc Says:
    January 26th, 2024 at 4:01 pm

    Mike would rather have Trask throw to him but being the ultimate professional that he is, he’s going to support the starting QB. Behind the scenes, he’s telling Bucs officials that he wants Trask next year.

    Oh please tell us where you got this information, if you can not give us a reliable source do you know how foolish you sound, Just a Traskite jock sniffer. Good news for you since he is just holding a clipboard all year his jock is fairly clean.

  50. Zoocomics Says:

    Leftwich is low hanging fruit for everyone to bash, but I do think he gets way too much credit for the drop-off in our offense in 2022. If you cannot compare apples to apples, it’s just not a fair assessment. Again, context means dick to most fans. Kyle Shannahan in San Fran, brilliant offensive mind, he’s had a few sub .500 seasons, but why? QB play, poor offensive line? Not enough weapons at the skill positions? We retooled the ENTIRE interior of the offense line, which history has told us, the Oline is Brady’s Kryptonite. Leftwich’s worst statistically season happened ONCE and we still managed to win the South.

    You want to see some solid Leftwich playing calling, go back and re-watch the first-half of the 2022 game against the Bengals. It was the first time all season we were using pre-snap motion often, and it was effective. Second half, we went away from it, and Brady managed to compile the worst 4 straight series in his entire QB history, leading to what I believe was 4-turnovers. I think Leftwich brought the pre-snap motion, Brady being old school probably didn’t care for the gimmick, and yet the Bengals were stunned for one half of football before we gave away the game. Whoever thinks Arians was calling on the plays and Leftwich was a puppet is full of spit. Much like Bowles, our coordinators are calling the plays. Situationally, the HCs insert themselves to be sure.

    The argument I can’t defend? Leftwich is still unemployed, both pros and college, so you got me there.

  51. ChiBuc Says:

    Good ol Bruce, when media smiles upon the franchise, it’s “we.” When times are bleak, he goes into hiding and all comments are “they.” Roll up your sleeves and get in the kitchen old man. Otherwise, stop hanging around and cherry picking the tastiest morsals for yourself.

  52. Duane in Sanford Says:

    Bowles had a hell of a run to end the season. I hope he turned the page. Even when it was bad, you can see that we were a few adjustments from having more success. He is still likely the best coach in the division. I still dislike the facade he puts up for media and fans, but I think he is coming around. This team is still young with vets in some of the better positions.

  53. BucaneroJim Says:

    Totally agree with above, been saying it myself – McLaughlin needs to come back. Bucs got a steal at 1.1 million last year. Regular season 33-33 XP and 29-31 FG.

  54. BucaneroJim Says:

    @ Cometowin2

    “Didn’t Chase have one blocked from 50 yards, plus the 50 yarder he missed Sunday that cost me $91 and change.”

    He told you to risk your money?

  55. chickster Says:

    we better sign Evans he is the only offensive we have an he earned it .

  56. chickster Says:

    chi buc is right on