Buccaneers Could Trade for $230 Million Baker Mayfield Replacement: Insider

A Kyler Murray trade (right) could be a Buccaneers option if the team does not move forward with Baker Mayfield.

Getty A Kyler Murray trade (right) could be a Buccaneers option if the team does not move forward with Baker Mayfield.

The Buccaneers Baker Mayfield experiment has been fun. He is a likable guy and still a decent quarterback. Even with the four-game losing streak the Bucs are on, they’re still in a decent position to earn a playoff spot. Mayfield has been good, but still, wouldn’t a Kyler Murray trade really get this team juiced again?

Yes, that Kyler Murray. The one who is set to make his debut this season after being out 11 months with a torn ACL. It would be a trade that would rival—almost—the acquisition of Tom Brady in 2020, but if the Cardinals do decide to take the plunge on trading away their franchise quarterbacks, the Buccaneers are speculated to be among the suitors.

In examining the issue of whether the Cardinals will trade Murray, Jeff Howe of The Athletic wrote that while Murray’s $230 million contract with $160 million in guaranteed money is prohibitive: “There is logic behind acquiring Murray, though. Looking at the top 11 of the 2024 draft order, there’s a case to be made for each team in the top 10 to take a quarterback. Of course, there aren’t enough quarterbacks to go around at that point.

“Most of those QB-needy teams aren’t heavily invested in the position for the long term. So if, let’s say, the New England PatriotsTampa Bay Buccaneers or Falcons aren’t able to fill their needs in the draft, Murray could be the next best option.”

Buccaneers Kyler Murray Trade Could Come Down to Money

For the Buccaneers, that could depend how much money Arizona would be willing to take on in making a Kyler Murray trade, though. According to Spotrac, Murray has $97 million in so-called dead cap money on his deal, but Howe writes that the Cardinals would be stuck with $46 million of that in a trade. That’s a lot for any team to take on for a guy who is playing elsewhere.

But the Buccaneers could work within that framework. They have significant cap space available next offseason—$47 million, according to Over The Cap. That’s 11th-most in the NFL.

Making it more difficult for the Cardinals to trade Murray is the fact that the team would have to make a decision on a deal by March 17, when a roster bonus of $11.9 million goes into effect for 2025. That’s a long way from the April 25 NFL draft, and teams simply won’t be ready to make a commitment to Murray like that at that point of the offseason.

Besides, as one NFL executive pointed out, if teams already know the Cardinals want to be rid of Murray at that point, they could take the chance that Arizona simply waives him. A trade would only help the Cardinals.

“As another team, why would I do that?” an executive told Howe. “They’d probably just cut him.”

Free Agency Looms All Over Tampa Roster

For the Buccaneers, the problem with making a Kyler Murray trade is that the team has a long list of potentially big-money free agents on hand, and the team would like to keep as many as possible. The list includes Mike Evans, Antoine Winfield Jr. and Devin White, all of whom figure to warrant $20 million-per-year contracts.

There’s also the need to give an extension to star tackle Tristan Wirfs.

And what about Baker Mayfield? He has played well enough to warrant bringing back, especially if the offense can build on its strong showing in Week 9, when it put up 37 points in a heartbreaking loss to the Texans. Spotrac projects Mayfield’s market value at $16.2 million.

That’s a big bump from the $4 million he is making this year. But, then, it is significantly less than the $51.9 million Murray is slated to make in 2024. Upgrading from Mayfield to Murray is a nice thought. But it would be costly.

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