For months, NFL fans have wondered what the Bucs might do with the No. 7 pick in Thursday's draft, producing a wide range of answers, each with passionate support from some of their fans.
But as draft nears, and as the interest level in a talented group of quarterbacks continues, there's another option to consider: What if the Bucs decide the best value is trading down from No. 7 to pick up extra draft picks?
"The phone is ringing quite a bit," Bucs general manager Jason Licht teased last week. "But I don't want to say that they're all serious phone calls."
Four of the top 10 picks in last year's draft were traded, and four the year before, and before a tradeless top 10 in 2015, there were four traded in Licht's first draft as Bucs general manager in 2014. The Bucs have only been involved once, trading down from No. 9 to No. 11 in 2016, picking up a fourth-round pick and still taking Vernon Hargreaves two spots later.
In theory, the Bucs could get much more from trading down Thursday — here are five potential matches for teams looking to move up. To get a big return, the Bucs likely need one of the draft's perceived top four quarterbacks (UCLA's Josh Rosen, USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield) to fall out of the top six.
BUFFALO BILLS (No. 12): Buffalo needs a quarterback with Tyrod Taylor gone, and the biggest obstacle here is that the Bills may trade up much higher to get one. They have the No. 12 and 22 picks in the draft, plus two second-rounders and two thirds, giving them ample assets to move up into the top five.
If they don't, and a QB is there at 7, the Bucs could drop down five spots to 12, still get a solid defensive back there, and get another starter- caliber pick. If Buffalo were to overspend to move up, it's reasonable the Bucs could get the No. 12 pick, plus an extra second and third.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (No. 11): Just how content is Miami with Ryan Tannehill? He had 70 TD passes against 36 INTs in his last three healthy seasons. But if they feel compelled to draft a successor, they may want to move up to do so.
Miami's draft is already littered with trades. The fourth-rounder they gave up to land defensive end Robert Quinn (111th overall) is actually higher than the ones they got when they traded away receiver Jarvis Landry (123) and running back Jay Ajayi (131).
For Miami to give up the No. 11 and 42 picks for No. 7 would be calculated as overpaying by some — perhaps No. 11, plus their third- and fourth-rounders, with a future mid-rounder throw in to seal the deal.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (No. 15): Licht worked under current Cards GM Steve Keim before he came to Tampa Bay, and familiarity always helps a trade get worked out under the deadline crunch of a ticking draft clock.
Arizona has gone with stopgaps at quarterback after Carson Palmer's retirement — Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon, neither of which are likely longterm solutions. It's just a matter of whether they want to move up from 15, and how far.
The Cardinals have a compensatory third-round pick, giving them four picks in the top 100. In theory, the Bucs could drop to No. 15, pick up No. 47 and that comp pick (No. 97) and address three needs instead of one.
PATRIOTS (No. 23): Licht's roots are in New England, so there's a relationship there as well, though the Patriots' penchant is to trade down, more so than dealing up.
But the Patriots traded away Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett last year, so there's no heir apparent to Tom Brady, at an age where they need to be planning for his eventual retirement. They added the 23rd pick for Brandin Cooks and the 43rd for Garoppolo, so they could package packs to move way up into the top 10.
The Bucs could get back No. 23 and 31, plus a second-day pick (No. 95 late in the third would be reasonable) and still get a solid combination of defensive back and running back with the top two picks.
49ERS (No. 9): John Lynch doesn't need a quarterback, of course.
But if Licht wanted to slide down just a bit — two spots, from 7 to 9, perhaps seeing multiple defensive backs he'd like to have still available — then San Francisco could be a smart match, much like the Bears two years ago.
The 49ers have two extra picks left over from the haul they got when the Bears moved up a single spot last year for Mitch Trubisky — a late second-rounder (59) and early third (70). Let's say the Bucs drop from 7 to 9, and pick up the 70th and 74th picks, not a huge windfall, but real help without having to drop that far in the first round.