Buccaneers Trade Pitch Dumps Baker Mayfield’s Top Option for 1st-Round Pick

The Buccaneers' Baker Mayfield hugs teammate Chris Godwin.

Getty The Buccaneers' Baker Mayfield hugs teammate Chris Godwin.

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, restocking the franchise in the wake of Tom Brady’s departure, bouncing back from a 1-6 midseason flop, winning five out of six to close the year and pulling off an upset of the Eagles in the playoffs, that was all the easy part. Figuring out how to keep the free-agent duo of Buccaneers Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans together, that’s the difficult part.

The Bucs have free agents up and down the roster, and will, no doubt, have to jettison some very good players in the coming months. But it has become very clear that the intention has been set that Mayfield will be back as their quarterback after a career-saving season in 2023.

If the Buccaneers want Mayfield, they may have to lose another star, in this case, Evans’ running mate at wide receiver, Chris Godwin, who was Mayfield’s top target with 83 catches last season. At Bleacher Report this week, a proposed deal with the receiver-needy Patriots unloads Godwin and the final year of the three-year, $60 million contract he signed in 2021, with veteran defensive back Jonathan Jones and a 2025 first-rounder coming back.


Chris Godwin Has 3 Straight 1,000-Yard Seasons

The full B/R proposal looks like this, “Hypothetical Trade We’d Love to See: WR Chris Godwin (to New England) for 2025 first-round pick, CB Jonathan Jones (to the Buccaneers).”

Here’s the justification for such a deal: “Godwin was once again a 1,000-yard receiver in 2023, but Evans was clearly Mayfield’s favorite target. There’s a very real chance that the Bucs can only retain one of the two, and flipping Godwin could make plenty of sense. … A future first-round pick would be reasonable for the soon-to-be 28-year-old, and the Patriots would be a logical suitor.

“If the Bucs agree to the deal pre-draft—and execute it during the summer—they could re-sign Evans and target a receiver like LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. or Oregon’s Troy Franklin in April. Squeezing Jones out of the deal would give the Bucs much-needed depth in the secondary.”

The first-round pick would be a steep price for the Patriots, not because Godwin is not worth a pick, but because the Patriots would be gambling that they won’t have another four-win season, as they did this year. New England has no current quarterback, and if things go south in new coach Jerod Mayo’s first year, the Buccaneers would be reaping a valuable pick in this scenario.


Buccaneers Baker Mayfield Wants Mike Evans Back

Godwin did have 83 catches for 1,024 yards last season, his third straight year passing the 1,000-yard mark. He had a grade at Pro Football Focus of 77.5, which made him the 28th-ranked receiver out of 128. Still, there is no question that Mayfield turned to Godwin less than Brady did—he averaged 4.9 catches last year after he averaged 6.5 receptions per game in the previous three seasons.

Evans had 79 receptions for 1,255 yards and a league-high 13 touchdowns, and earned a Pro Bowl slot. Without Godwin, the Buccaneers could give a bigger role to Trey Palmer, the speedy rookie who badly needs to improve his hands.

Signing Evans will not be cheap, even at age 30. But Mayfield made clear he hoped that would be a Buccaneers priority in free agency. As he said in the days after the team was eliminated from the playoffs, “If I’m back, I want Mike back.”

 

 

 

 

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