TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are finalizing a deal to make Bruce Arians their next head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini.
Arians, who retired following the 2017 season coaching the Arizona Cardinals, has spent the 2018 NFL season working as a game analyst for CBS.
In Tampa Bay, he will reunite with Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht, who served as the Cardinals’ vice president of player personnel in 2013, and quarterback Jameis Winston, who attended Arians’ football camps as a youth in Birmingham, Alabama.
“Jaboo was a Birmingham legend,” Arians said prior to his Cardinals team facing Winston and the Bucs in 2016. “He would be fun to coach, there’s no doubt about it. He’s a winner and a great leader and obviously a heck of a young quarterback.”
Arians, 66, played a role in shaping Licht’s philosophies as a GM. When Licht traded up to select kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft — a move that drew leaguewide criticism — Licht then quoted Arians’ famous “no risk it, no biscuit” after the draft decision. Aguayo struggled and was cut the following season.
The Bucs are counting on Arians to orchestrate a quick turnaround much like he did in Arizona. The Bucs haven’t reached the playoffs since 2007 — the NFL’s second-longest postseason drought — and have finished with double-digit losses seven out of the past 10 seasons. Tampa Bay fired coach Dirk Koetter on Dec. 30 following consecutive 5-11 seasons.
Arians served as the Cardinals’ head coach from 2013 through 2017, amassing a 50-32-1 record (playoffs included), the best in Cardinals franchise history despite inheriting a team that went 5-11 under predecessor Ken Whisenhunt the season before he arrived.
Arians was twice named the AP NFL Coach of the Year (2012, 2014), becoming the 11th coach to earn the award twice and the first interim coach to win the award. In 2012, he stepped in for Chuck Pagano and guided the Indianapolis Colts to an 11-5 record (Arians went 9-3) and a playoff berth.
In his first season with Arizona in 2013, he led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record, then just the second time in the franchise’s 37 years that they’d had 10 or more victories. Arians’ Cardinals teams had double-digit wins three out of five seasons, and he is 1-2 in the postseason.
The Bucs also interviewed Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards and Dallas Cowboys defensive-backs coach/passing-game coordinator Kris Richard, but Arians was long considered the front-runner for the head-coaching job.
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