Buccaneers Try to Keep Baker Mayfield Amid 1 Possible Browns-Era Acquisition

Baker Mayfield

Getty Baker Mayfield could see a familiar face come to Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers talked with an offensive coordinator candidate who could convince quarterback Baker Mayfield to stay.

Former Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt worked with Mayfield in 2020 and 2021, and Van Pelt interviewed with the Buccaneers on Monday. Tampa Bay lost former offensive coordinator Dave Canales to the Carolina Panthers as the head coach last week.

Mayfield, who could become a free agent in March, had a career year under Canales amid 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns versus 10 interceptions this season. A big contract awaits Mayfield in 2024, but continuity or consistency looks uncertain.

He has been through a slew of offensive coordinators and coaches in six seasons, so Van Pelt could put a stop to that ever-changing cycle. Mayfield did well in 2020 for the Browns under Van Pelt with 3,563 yards for 28 touchdowns versus eight interceptions plus an AFC Divisional Round appearance.

Mayfield recently helped the Buccaneers reach the Divisional Round this season before the Detroit Lions held on, 31-23. He expressed interest in staying with the Buccaneers for 2024, but that occurred before Canales’ departure.

“I love this group,” Mayfield told reporters on January 21. “I said that all year. And it’s authentic. I mean that. It would mean a lot for me, to bring back a lot of key pieces, to get this back together, to get it to Year 2 in the system, you can make huge strides. I would love that.”

Alex Van Pelt Has High Regard for Baker Mayfield

Van Pelt meanwhile guided a Browns offense that scored 23.3 points per game but got bounced in the AFC Wild Card round against the Houston Texans. The Browns let go of Van Pelt after the season, and he notably had high praise of Mayfield when the two joined forces in 2020.

“Playing against him for the last two years [with the Bengals], you see the type of competitor he is,’’ Van Pelt told reporters in 2020. “The type of player he is on the field, loves the game, plays it with passion, those are all the things you’re looking for in a great player.’’

Alex Van Pelt Has Ties to Buccaneers

Van Pelt also has some ties to the Buccaneers. He served as the quarterbacks coach under former head coach Raheem Morris in 2010 and 2011. Morris notably took the Atlanta Falcons head coaching job last week.

Besides coaching experience, Van Pelt played for the Buffalo Bills as a backup quarterback in the 1990s until 2003. He also landed his first NFL coaching job with the Bills in 2006 as the quality control coach.

His time with the Bills led to quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator roles between 2008 and 2009. Van Pelt’s experience also includes working with New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers when they were both with the Green Bay Packers from 2014 to 2017.

Besides Van Pelt, the Buccaneers have interviewed two other candidates — Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson and Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El. Houston thrived with Johnson coaching quarterback C.J. Stroud, who led the team to the AFC Divisional Round. Randle El likewise excelled with the Lions during a playoff run to the NFC Championship Game in San Francisco.