The only time Baker Mayfield had to step in for a Super Bowl winner was in December when the Los Angeles Rams were desperate for a quarterback. Mayfield ended up handling starting quarterback duties while QB1 Matthew Stafford nursed a spinal cord contusion ailment.
But 2023 could see a different situation for Mayfield as an unrestricted free agent: Replacing a multiple Super Bowl winner and NFL legend in Tom Brady.
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now in need of a quarterback, longtime Bucs reporter Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times sees Mayfield as an option to take over for Brady as he spoke on the Thursday, February 2 edition of The Dan Patrick Show.
“Absolutely,” Stroud said (around the 50-second mark) when asked if Mayfield could be the next quarterback of the Bucs. “I think a lot of it depends on who the [offensive] coordinator is, but listen, they were looking last year for quarterbacks when Brady was out for those 40 days and Baker was on that list.”
Stroud adds that with Todd Monken interviewing for the open offensive coordinator position with the Bucs, Stroud pointed to Monken having a previous connection to Mayfield when the two were with the Cleveland Browns. That was when Monken was the offensive coordinator in the 2019 season (Mayfield’s best passing yardage season of 3,827 yards) and added how Monken “absolutely loved the guy.”
State of Buccaneers QB Room
Turns out the Rams aren’t the only ones dealing with a potentially depleted QB room with free agency on the horizon.
Had Brady not retired, the seven-time Super Bowl winner would’ve been an unrestricted free agent anyway. But that’s not all. Blaine Gabbert is another UFA for the 2023 cycle. That leaves 2021 second rounder Kyle Trask as the lone quarterback option for the Bucs.
Stroud believes Gabbert will be the one the Bucs would consider bringing back on a one-year deal to alleviate the stress of having a diluted signal-caller room. The Bucs could also pivot to the draft and await who’s available at No. 19 in the first round — with names like Florida standout Anthony Richardson or fellow Southeastern Conference star Hendon Hooker from Tennessee as possibilities if they’re available and the Bucs take a QB.
Or, Tampa can continue a trend and go with a veteran free agent to take the starting signal-caller duties — which was what they gave to Brady in 2020.
How Mayfield Stacks up With Other Free Agent Quarterbacks
With Brady retired, and Aaron Rodgers on the fence with wondering if he’ll return for his 19th NFL season, this ’23 free agency class of quarterbacks doesn’t appear to be the deepest compared to 2022. Last season saw Russell Wilson get dealt away, Matt Ryan sign with the Indianapolis Colts and also had Mayfield part of the offseason moves with a late July trade to the Carolina Panthers.
This time, the marquee names are guys who at one point were backups during the 2022 season including Mayfield.
Jimmy Garoppolo is on his way out of San Francisco with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirming Jimmy G’s future departure on Wednesday with reporters. Mayfield’s Panthers teammate Sam Darnold is another UFA.
Also, two playoff quarterbacks are UFAs with former first rounder Daniel Jones of the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks starter Geno Smith. Then there’s the growing trade rumblings involving the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson.
But given the fact Mayfield played for three different franchises in 2022, teams may shy away from him…which can bode well for a Rams team that additionally has Bryce Perkins and John Wolford as free agents. If there is a team outside of the “Rams House” that bears watching for Mayfield, though, it’s the one that has to replace the future Hall of Famer in the Sunshine State.