Bruce Arians’ retirement didn’t last long.
Arians will have a four-year deal with a fifth-year option, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
The former Cards coach is hiring Bryon Leftwich as offensive coordinator and is expected to hire Harold Goodwin as run game coordinator/offensive line and Clyde Christensen as QB coach, Rapoport added. Arians is also targeting his former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for the same position in Tampa Bay.
Earlier Tuesday, Rapoport reported that the Bucs were set offer the gig to Arians. Things developed quickly from there.
"Bruce Arians is one of the NFL’s most well-respected coaches over the past two decades and we are excited to have him leading our team," Buccaneers owner/co-chairman Bryan Glazer. "Throughout this process, we focused on finding the right coach with a proven ability to elevate our players and lead our team forward. Bruce has played a large role in the development and career success of some of our league’s best players and we look forward to seeing him continue that work here with our franchise."
As compensation for hiring Arians, the Bucs sent a 2019 sixth-round pick to Arizona in exchange for Arians and a 2019 seventh-round pick, Rapoport reported. The NFL initially said no compensation was necessary, but the Cardinals put a pause on Tampa Bay’s deal by insisting on compensation, so both sides worked it out to make the deal happen.
Arians, who retired in early 2018 from his post in Arizona to focus on his health and life outside of football, spent the last season in the broadcast booth as a color commentator for CBS. It was in that booth that rumors of Arians potentially returning to the NFL to coach first started to bubble up. But it was in relation to another vacancy — the Cleveland Browns — not Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers entered the realm of possibility for Arians shortly after the team fired coach Dirk Koetter on Dec. 30; Koetter was hired Tuesday by the Atlanta Falcons to be their OC. While Arians previously said on record he’d only consider coming out of retirement for the Browns job (which he said he’s wanted for more than a decade), he expanded his willingness to listen to include the Buccaneers.
That decision has landed him a coaching job.
Arians rose to prominence after a coaching life spent largely as an offensive guru, tutoring young versions of Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger before they became their All-Pro selves. That also included getting fired — by Temple, by Cleveland and by Pittsburgh — before his unlikely ascension to offensive coordinator and interim head coach in Indianapolis landed him NFL Coach of the Year honors and earned him the Arizona job.
Armed with veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and an assortment of stars (Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, David Johnson as a rookie), Arians posted a 49-30 mark with the Cardinals in five seasons. He led the Cardinals to playoff appearances in 2014 and 2015, posting a 1-2 record and serving as the face of the most enjoyable time in Cardinals history.
That ended after two seasons of near-.500 football, when Arians’ Cardinals battled injuries to finish 7-8-1 and 8-8.
Where are the Buccaneers headed with Arians at the helm? Well, they’ll have the best-equipped coach to tutor Jameis Winston since he joined the Buccaneers in 2015. That’s of vital importance, since Winston is entering the final season of his rookie deal, coming off a campaign in which he began the season with a suspension and was benched for poor play and needs to take the next step, or else face a potential parting of ways with the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers, who have more young talent (pointing to Chris Godwin, among others) than one might think, are poised to make a leap in overall record, should they and Arians acclimate to each other expediently. That begins with Arians filling out his staff, which could include a Cardinals reunion of sorts. Stay tuned.