Super Bowl-winning Tampa Buccaneers’ head coach Bruce Arians is stepping down and will be replaced by his defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the NFL team announced Wednesday evening.
Arians, 69, will move to the front office to become “senior football consultant,” the team said. He was hired in 2019, and the Bucs went on to win Super Bowl after the 2020 season in Tampa Bay.
Arians told NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Times that he wanted Bowles to succeed him when he stepped down.
In a statement released by the team, Arians said that he chose to step down now so that Bowles would have the best chance at success. NFL star quarterback Tom Brady earlier this month reversed his decision to retire and will return to Tampa Bay.
Brady’s decision “confirmed for me that it was the right time to pass the torch to Todd,” Arians said.
Bowles, a former head coach for the New York Jets, has been defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers since 2019.
“It was evident to everyone in our organization over the last three years that Todd deserved to be an NFL head coach,” team General Manager Jason Licht said in a team statement. “I have always felt that if this situation ever arose, we had the best candidate for the job already in-house.”
Bowles, who is Black, will be the sixth minority head coach in the NFL.
Arians said that after 50 years, he’s ready to move on. He said that he began conservations a few weeks ago about a succession plan.
“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,” he said.
The change for Tampa Bay comes after Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion, in February announced his retirement from football, then reversed course in March and said he was returning for a 23rd NFL season.
Bowles said in a statement that Tampa has become home.
“As an organization, we have all the pieces in place to continue the winning standard that has been established here in recent years,” he said.
Bowles and Arians both were with the Arizona Cardinals, with Arians as head coach and Bowles as defensive coordinator.
Brady and the Buccaneers made it to the NFL post-season last year but their hopes of a repeat Super Bowl win were dashed when they lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs.
Brady in announcing he would return tweeted he had “unfinished business.” On Wednesday, Brady thanked Arians in an Instagram post and said the head coach was “a huge part” of his decision to join Tampa Bay in the first place.
“You are a true NFL legend and pioneer for all the work you have done to make the league more diverse and inclusive,” Brady wrote.
Bowles, Arians, Licht and team owner and co-chairman Joel Glazer are scheduled to hold an introductory news conference Thursday.