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Bruce Arians stepping down as Buccaneers head coach; Todd Bowles to succeed him

There is more major retirement news for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Head coach Bruce Arians is stepping down from his post and moving to the team's front office, with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles replacing him as the new head coach, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Wednesday.

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported the Bucs are giving Bowles a new five-year contract as their head coach, according to a source informed of the agreement. Bowles was one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL and will now be paid a salary in line with other head coaches around the league, per Garafolo.

The Bucs later announced the change and said Arians will take on a senior football consultant role within the organization.

NBC's Peter King first reported the news.

Always quick with a quip and aggressive in his play-calling approach, Arians will be remembered for turning two franchises into winners and also for his trailblazing ways in opening up opportunities for others. Having long preached, "No risk it, no biscuit," Arians went 80-48-1 as a head coach in his career.

Arians' departure from the sideline comes roughly 13 months after he led the Buccaneers to the franchise's second Super Bowl title in Tom Brady's first season with the club. Prior to his three-year run in Tampa (31-18 record; 5-1 in the playoffs), Arians spent decades as an NFL assistant before serving as interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, when he won his first AP Coach of the Year award. He served the next five seasons as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals (2013-17), where he went 49-30-1 with two playoff appearances and won his second Coach of the Year award (2014). He retired following the 2017 season, spending a year as a game analyst for CBS, before joining Tampa in 2019.

"When Bruce arrived in Tampa Bay three years ago, he spoke about establishing a winning culture and adding another Super Bowl championship for our community," Bucs owner Joel Glazer said in a team statement. "He delivered on both of those promises, and our family is deeply appreciative for all that he has accomplished during his time as our head coach. As impressive as his coaching accomplishments have been, his legacy will live on through the doors of opportunity that he has opened for minority coaches and women in football. We support Bruce's decision to transition from the sidelines and look forward to continuing to lean on his vast football knowledge and experience well into the future. On behalf of all Buccaneers fans, I would like to thank Bruce for all that he has done for this franchise and our community."

On the heels of winning the NFC South and advancing to the NFC Divisional Round and with the 2022 NFL Draft roughly a month away, Arians, 69, explained the timing of the move in a Wednesday night statement.

"The simple answer is that I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could during this incredible coaching journey," Arians said, in part. "Winning Super Bowl LV at our home stadium, with my mom and family in attendance, was really the last item I wanted to check off my career bucket list. For me, this is about more than just trying to add more wins to my coaching record.

"This team is in a much better place than it was three years ago due to Jason's great work and the Glazer family's commitment to winning. Before you start thinking this is about my health, don't. This is the best I have felt in many years and I'm looking forward to helping this team continue winning through my new role."

Arians continued: "I want to focus on what I can give back to this incredible game that has provided so much for me and my family. I really began thinking about my personal transition plan earlier this offseason. I wanted to ensure when I walked away that Todd Bowles would have the best opportunity to succeed. So many head coaches come into situations where they are set up for failure, and I didn't want that for Todd. Tom (Brady)'s decision to come back, along with Jason and his staff doing another great job of keeping the core of this team intact during free agency, confirmed for me that it was the right time to pass the torch to Todd. I began conversations with Jason and the Glazer family a few weeks ago about a possible succession plan. Their understanding and support mean the world to me."

As Arians effectively passes the torch to Bowles, he leaves his former DC with a roster that, on paper, looks to be that of an NFC contender.

Most notably, the Bucs will have Brady back, as the quarterback who captained the team to the Super Bowl announced he was unretiring earlier in March. Speculation has swirled in the offseason of a supposed rift between Arians and Brady -- a notion that's likely to get some added play in light of Arians' decision to move to the front office. However, it's speculation Arians adamantly refuted. Upon the news of Arians stepping down Wednesday, Brady posted a lengthy message of thanks and admiration for his now-former coach.

Bowles, 58, will become the sixth active minority head coach in the NFL and will get a second chance to prove himself in the role after four seasons with the New York Jets from 2015-2018 in which he went 24-40. He now takes over a far more talented roster with Super Bowl experience to boot.

"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 in a statement. "Tampa has become home for my family, and we are excited to remain part of this community for years to come. As an organization, we have all the pieces in place to continue the winning standard that has been established here in recent years. I am eager to get started with our players, coaching staff, and front office in preparation for the 2022 season."

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported it's likely that inside linebackers coach Larry Foote and defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers will split defensive coordinator duties with Bowles moving up from his defensive coordinator spot.

Under the construction of Arians, the Buccaneers' coaching staff was one of the most diverse in the league and will remain as such. Including Bowles, all of Arians' top assistants were Black -- assistant head coach Harold Goodwin, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong rounding the group. Foote and Rodgers are Black. Assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar became the first female coaches on a team to win a Super Bowl as members of Arians' staff, as well.

While Arians, Brady and a star-studded offense have commanded the marquee over the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, Bowles has piloted one of the league's most impressive defenses. Leading the likes of Devin White, Shaquil Barrett and Carlton Davis, Bowles' 2020 defense was eighth in points allowed and fifth in 2021. With Leftwich set to return as the team's offensive coordinator, the Buccaneers have a familiarly formidable roster and remain in place to be a contender once more even with Arians putting down the headset.

Arians will still be around the Buccaneers as a consultant, but the sidelines will now be manned by Bowles, who steps up to take over an NFC heavyweight with high hopes and steps into some mighty large shoes to fill.

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