The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an unusual offseason. Shortly after their playoff loss to the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams, their starting quarterback retired. Less than six weeks later, Tom Brady unretired. Two weeks after that, Bruce Arians announced he would be stepping down as head coach and transitioning to a front office role, while the Bucs named Todd Bowles their new head coach.
According to Arians, he would likely not have stepped aside if Brady had not come back.
“I was going the other way. I was thinking he wasn’t going to play,” Arians said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “I was thinking about who are we going to get? Who wants to trade? There wasn’t anybody to draft. That was obvious. Me, to the public, I was fine with the two we had: Blaine (Gabbert) and Kyle (Trask). Because I’ve seen Blaine win with a good team behind him. Had Tom not come back, I probably would still be coaching. I couldn’t give Todd that situation.”
Arians has stated before that he preferred to leave Bowles a good situation to begin his second shot at a head-coaching opportunity, rather than one where he did not have the greatest quarterback of all time under center. He’s talked about the importance of a succession plan and of giving opportunities to Black coaches like Bowles, as well as female coaches and other minority coaches. But this statement is about as explicit as it gets.
Even if he had stuck around for this season, though, Arians was not going to be around much longer. The former head coach turns 70 years old in October, and for him, that was a sign that it was likely time to hang up the clipboard.
“It was 90 percent that (this) year would be my last, anyway,” Arians said. “Seventy was going to be it.”