Baker Mayfield’s Buccaneers Free Agent Intentions Revealed by Insider

Baker Mayfield (left) and coach Todd Bowles of the Buccaneers

Getty Baker Mayfield (left) and coach Todd Bowles of the Buccaneers

It takes two sides to make a marriage, of course, and that is the case in Tampa Bay, where the Buccaneers’ tenuous wedding to quarterback Baker Mayfield has had its honeymoon phase, some dark times and, now, the hard work of true partnership. The playoffs would be the payoff for the journeyman quarterback, but there’s a long way for the Bucs to go on that.

One thing for sure is that, on the Baker Mayfield end of things, he’d like to keep the marriage going.

On Sunday night during NBC’s broadcast of the Cowboys-Eagles game, Pro Football Talk’s NFL insider Mike Florio noted that he had a conversation with Mayfield and that, in that conversation, Mayfield made his intentions clear.

“Baker Mayfield cherishes the underdog mentality,” Florio said. “‘Nobody believes in us.’ He said it is something to cherish and harness as the stretch run commences. And this is his first year in Tampa, he is on a one-year contract. He loves it there. He told me he wants to stay.”

Baker Mayfield Has Shown He Can Be an NFL Starter

And why wouldn’t he? The Buccaneers stint has been useful for Baker Mayfield, who has resuscitated his NFL career, despite some obvious ups and downs throughout the season—most notably the run of six losses in seven games that followed the Bucs’ surprising 3-1 start. Tampa has won two straight to keep alive their playoff hopes.

Mayfield has thrown for an average of 225.7 yards per game, the third-most of his six-year career. He has a 62.6 completion percentage and his quarterback rating of 89.7 is not great, but it is 16th in the NFL, proving that Mayfield is, at least, an average starter in the league.

Ball protection has been an issue for Mayfield throughout his career, but his interception rate this year is just 1.8%, second-lowest of his career. That ranks 10th in the NFL.

He signed a one-year, $4 million contract with incentives. Now, halfway through his first season in Tampa, coach Todd Bowles was asked for his review of Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers quarterback.

“I think it was a great fit,” Bowles said last month. “It’s extremely fortunate for both of us – it was a great fit for us. For him, coming here, understanding the offense and doing what he’s down right now – we could have never imagined. We thought about it – we thought we could see it, but it’s coming true and it’s coming to fruition.

“I’m glad he’s happy here because we’re happy with him. I think it’s a great marriage.”

Buccaneers Facing Tough Free-Agent Decisions

But then, Todd Bowles would have to say that because his Buccaneers job is on the line in the coming weeks just as much as Baker Mayfield’s is. And what Bowles does not mention is that one reason Mayfield was such a great marriage for the Bucs is that he came cheap. Paying your starting quarterback $4 million is downright impossible for a player who is not on a rookie contract.

Indeed, if Mayfield hits the open market next spring, Spotrac projects his value at $16.7 million, with a two year, $33.4 million contract being in his range.

Is that in the range of the Bucs, though? The team has a heap of free-agent question marks ahead—Devin White, Lavonte David, Mike Evans, Antoine Winfield—and could find it easier to simply draft a quarterback and let him compete with second-year man Kyle Trask.

That would mean and ending, though, to the Baker Mayfield-Buccaneers marriage. Mayfield, for one, would not be so happy about that.

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