Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen made some less-than-flattering remarks regarding second-year quarterback Kyle Trask on Tuesday afternoon. Trask, who was selected with the No. 64 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, is apparently not competing for the backup job behind Tom Brady ahead of the 2022 season. Veteran signal-caller Blaine Gabbert appears locked into that role, while Trask continues to serve as the team’s No. 3 developmental quarterback despite heading into his sophomore campaign.
“There’s more of a learning curve,” Christensen said, in relation to Trask’s role on the team. “I don’t see him [Trask] competing with Gabbert this year. I see Gabbert being the backup and Kyle being the developmental guy,” Christensen concluded.
It qualifies as rather concerning remarks given the draft capital invested into Trask. Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht drafted Trask with an eye undeniably pointed toward the future. Brady’s future with the franchise remained in doubt when the Buccaneers selected Trask at the back end of last year’s second round, and that remains ever-present today as the 44-year-old Brady prepares to enter the final year of his contract in 2022 after returning from a short-lived retirement. The Buccaneers surely hoped Trask possessed the traits necessary to develop into their long-term quarterback of the future when they drafted him, but the early warning signs may suggest otherwise. There’s certainly time for Trask to salvage the situation while eventually meeting Tampa’s hopeful expectations, but Tuesday’s comments failed to shine a positive light on the abilities Christensen and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich have observed thus far.
Taking the competition into consideration raises additional concerns. A former first-round bust, Gabbert is a 10-year professional with a career completion percentage of just 56.3% and a less-than-desirable TD:INT ratio of 50:47. Gabbert has developed into a career backup while carving out a role for himself in Tampa Bay.
Gabbert is entering his third consecutive season with the Buccaneers in 2022 after previously serving as the backup in Arizona, San Francisco, and Tennessee. Tampa’s front office and coaching staff hold Gabbert in high regard for his preparation, overall knowledge of the game, and the relationship he’s built with Brady, but Trask is at a point where he should be competing alongside Gabbert for the backup job. Licht’s decision to re-sign Gabbert to a one-year contract earlier this offseason spoke volumes regarding Trask’s development, and Christensen’s comments on Tuesday only reinforced what was previously admitted in silence.
The public’s sample size on viewing Trask has been admittedly small, although Christensen and Leftwich have had the pleasure of working alongside Trask on an everyday basis. Trask’s NFL experience has thus far been limited to three appearances throughout the 2021 preseason. Trask looked especially ill-prepared throughout those first two contests, completing just 17-of-41 passing attempts (41%) for 166 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions in defeats to the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans. It’s worth noting Trask looked significantly better in Tampa’s preseason finale victory over the Houston Texans, having completed 12-of-14 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown. That performance showcased growth just weeks apart.
The book on Trask as a quarterback prospect ahead of the 2021 draft was lengthy. He enjoyed a fruitful final campaign at Florida in 2020 by operating Dan Mullen’s quarterback-friendly offense with terrific precision. Trask threw for career-highs in yards (4,283) and touchdowns (43). The high points showcased a quarterback throwing the ball with pinpoint accuracy and anticipation while routinely dicing apart talented opposing SEC defenses. Trask also features terrific size for the position. Trask’s weaknesses as a prospect included a limited athletic profile and less-than-impressive arm strength. In a league that prioritizes off-script creators at quarterback more than ever before, Trask lacked some of today’s more desired qualities. All in all, Trask was rightfully viewed as a second-round quarterback prospect by most, and when comparing him to the quarterbacks class in the 2022 NFL Draft, Trask was drafted 10 and 22 selections earlier than Desmond Ridder and Malik Willis respectively.
The Buccaneers thankfully don’t require Trask to be “the guy” in 2022. He’ll continue to work behind the scenes under the tutelage and watchful eyes of one of the most talented offensive coaching staffs across the entire league. The issues that have plagued Trask throughout practice and last year’s preseason contests will be worked through with great attention to detail. Writing off Trask would qualify as awfully premature, but Christensen’s recent comments certainly raise the alarm regarding his lack of desired development.
- May 25, 2022