Arians retires as Bucs' coach, Bowles promoted to top spot

Fred Goodall
Associated Press

Tampa, Fla. — Bruce Arians has decided to retire as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and move into a front-office role with the team, a stunning move announced Wednesday night.

Arians, who will turn 70 this coming season, coached the Bucs to the Super Bowl title in the 2020 season — Tom Brady’s first with Tampa Bay. The Bucs were 31-18 in Arians’ three seasons there and he was 80-48-1 in eight years as a head coach overall when adding in his five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians talks to quarterback Tom Brady before the team's NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers on Jan. 9, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will replace Arians as coach.

NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Times first reported Arians’ decision and that Bowles would be promoted.

“I have spent most of the last 50 years of my life on the sidelines as a football coach in one form or another,” Arians said in a statement released by the team. “Today, I have made the decision to move from the sidelines into another role with the Buccaneers front office, assisting (general manager) Jason Licht and his staff.

“I love football. I love the relationships, the strategy, the competition — everything. It has been one hell of a ride, but I know this is the right time for me to make this transition."

It is the second major retirement announcement for the Bucs this offseason, following Brady’s announcement in February that he was ending his career. Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, returned 40 days later, saying he would return for a 23rd season and noting he had “unfinished business.”

There was no public indication at the NFL’s annual meetings on the Atlantic side of the state in Palm Beach, Florida that such a move was coming. Arians was there, briefly, and did an interview with NFL Network about what the team would have done to replace Brady if the quarterback hadn’t changed his mind. Licht addressed reporters for a short time during the meetings, as did team co-owner Joel Glazer.

Arians did not do a group interview there, with the team saying he was leaving for personal reasons. He was also one of the four coaches who opted to not be part of the annual group photo of all NFL head coaches at the meetings.

Bowles was an interim head coach in Miami for three games in 2011, and went 24-40 in four seasons with the New York Jets from 2015 through 2018.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles watches from the sideline during the team's NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 26, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C.

“I am appreciative of the Glazer family and Jason Licht for having faith in me to take on this role, and to Coach Arians for his support and guidance over the past four decades,” Bowles said. “Tampa has become home for my family, and we are excited to remain part of this community for years to come. ... I am eager to get started with our players, coaching staff, and front office in preparation for the 2022 season.”