uy sport If retirement doesn’t suit former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, maybe the Buccaneers...

If retirement doesn’t suit former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, maybe the Buccaneers will – AZCentral

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If retirement doesn’t suit former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, maybe the Buccaneers will – AZCentral


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Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians announces his retirement. Michael Chow/azcentral sports

When Bruce Arians announced his retirement from coaching a year ago, he gave the Cardinals and their fans the old “it’s not you, it’s me” reason for leaving.

It was time to move to his “forever home” on a lake in Georgia, he said. It was time to enjoy his family, which included a new grandson. It was time to play more golf.

Now it looks like Arians’ “retirement” might be more of a “gap year” than anything else.

Arians interviewed with the Buccaneers on Saturday, prompting questions from some Cardinals fans about his sincerity in that tearful news conference at the end of the 2017 season.

Really, B.A., another team? And Tampa Bay, which has a turnover machine at quarterback, questionable talent on defense and a general manager who is lucky to still have a job?

We have all that in Arizona, plus lots fewer bugs.

Conspiracy theories abound on social media. The most popular is that Arians saw where the Cardinals were headed and wanted out.

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But I doubt that’s true. I think Arians sincerely didn’t plan on coaching again when he left the Cardinals a year ago.

Retirement isn’t easy for many people, especially those who labor in professions that require a healthy ego to be successful. Arians’ work with CBS as a game analyst last year drew mixed reviews, and it had to be difficult for him to talk about football without conversational cuss words sprinkled in.

Arians wouldn’t return to coaching for just any job. And while the Bucs’ looks like a terrible one, it’s a perfect fit for Arians.

He’s known Jameis Winston since the quarterback was 12 and attended a camp Arians and his son Jake operated in Birmingham, Ala. Arians genuinely thinks he can fix whatever is wrong with Winston.

It’s a reclamation project Arians would relish. Success with Winston would be a crowning achievement to a career built upon whispering to quarterbacks.

That’s not especially hard when the ears belong to Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer. Some coaches go their whole careers without working with one quarterback that talented, much less four.

It’s significantly harder when the ears are attached to Winston, who is 21-33 as a starter and no better now than when he entered the NFL in 2015.

But if anyone can do it, it’s Arians.

Arians can hire Todd Bowles to try and fix the Bucs defense. Harold Goodwin or Byron Leftwich could fill the offensive coordinator’s job.

Arians also knows, likes and respects Bucs General Manager Jason Licht, who was a Cardinals vice president in 2013, Arians’ first year in Arizona.

And just as importantly, Tampa Bay is close to the Arians’ home on Lake Oconee in Georgia.

Arians is a perfect fit for the Bucs, too. It’s not an attractive job to a coach with options, because it requires committing to Winston and to Licht. There is no proof yet that either are good at their jobs.

Arians apparently is willing to do that.

It will be interesting to see if Arians takes the job if offered, or if this is all about the joy of being courted. He’s 66, had more than his share of health problems, and his wife, Chris, has been wanting him to retire for years.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, continue to search for a head coach. That search does not include Arians, and I don’t think that will change.

Arians left Arizona with one year left on his contract, plus an additional year at the team’s option. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Cardinals declined that option, meaning they are entitled to no compensation should Arians take a job with another team.

Arians, General Manager Steve Keim and team President Michael Bidwill remain friends, but there was a sense last year that both sides looked forward to seeing what life looked like apart from each other.

I don’t envision the band getting back together in Arizona. But the Cardinals do play in Tampa Bay in 2019. That game could be a lot more interesting than any of us envisioned.

Reach Somers at kent.somers@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @kentsomers. Hear Somers every Friday between 4 and 4:30 p.m. on The Drive with Jody Oehler on Fox Sports 910 AM.

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