Former Browns QB Targeted as Tom Brady Replacement for Bucs

Kevin Stefanski

Getty Images Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are interested in former Cleveland Browns No. 1 overvall pick Baker Mayfield to be their quarterback.

The Buccaneers are moving on after three seasons with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady at the helm. Brady announced his retirement shortly after the season.

Mayfield had a rough start to the 2022 season, which included being replaced in Cleveland by Deshaun Watson and getting released by the Carolina Panthers later in the year after some lackluster results. However, he gave himself new life when he landed with the Los Angeles Rams, leading an astounding comeback in his first start on Thusday Night Football against the Raiders.

Mayfield passed for 850 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in his five games with the Rams.

The Bucs interest in Mayfield comes via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who said it’d likely be a competition between the former Browns QB and Kyle Trask, Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in 2021. Trask is the only quarterback the Bucs have under contract for next season.

“When free agency begins, the Bucs are expected to target ex-Rams QB Baker Mayfield as a potential starting QB option,” Rapoport tweeted. “This could be competition for Kyle Trask, their former 2nd-round pick, who the team likes a lot. As TB plots life without Tom Brady…”

Bucs Also Interested in Adding Jacoby Brissett

Mayfield is not the only from Browns quarterback the Bucs are looking at. The team is also interested in Jacoby Brissett, per ESPN’s Diana Russini.

Brissett started 11 games for the Browns last season when Watson was out with a suspension. He outplayed expectations despite his 4-7 record as the starter. He completed 64% of his passes for 2,608 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, also establishing himself as a leader in the locker room.

“He’s just a great dude,” Stefanski told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “I mean, that’s the simple answer. He’s very engaging. He’s very, very intelligent. He’s extremely supportive. I gave him a game ball after the game just because he’s a team guy. He’s such a great teammate, and it’s all the things that nobody sees that he does in the locker room.

“After-hours calling, texting guys video clips of plays. Those go unnoticed. Not by me, but those can go unnoticed. Well, I should say, they don’t go unnoticed by me or his teammates. And he’s just a truly supportive person. I spend a ton of time with him, and I don’t know that I’ve been around a better teammate in my time.”

Brissett will have his suitors in free agency and made it clear he still wants to compete for a starting role.

“I’m a starting quarterback in this league — I can confidently say that,” Brissett said at the end of his 11-game stint with the Browns. “Hopefully, a team turns on the tape, and they watch and they see that.”

Browns Investigating Own Backup Options

With Brissett likely to depart, the Browns have to figure out their own backup quarterback situation. The team is unlikely to splurge on a veteran as they have in the past on Brissett and Case Keenum before him. And there’s a chance that role could go to Kellen Mond, who the Browns claimed last season after final roster cutdowns.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said at the combine that it was too early to rule out the possibilty of Mond competing for the backup spot.

“No, I don’t think so,” Stefanski said. “I think all options are available to us there with young players, obviously Kellen hasn’t played in that setting, but we’ll see how far he comes along to say that he can’t win that job. I don’t think it’s fair to say that on March 1. I think he’s a young player that we need to see certainly more of.”

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