Bucs Could Still Trade for Former No. 1 Pick, Insider Says

Tom Brady

Getty Tom Brady and Byron Leftwich could prepare the Buccaneers for the future in 2022.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t formally determined a succession plan for quarterback Tom Brady, and the Bucs may not wait until 2023.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield remains on the training block after the team traded for Deshaun Watson in March. Bucs general manager Jason Licht didn’t shoot down the possibility of pursuing Mayfield, but nothing happened with that during the draft or the weeks following. Bucs insider Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times discussed a potential move for Mayfield on the “Rich Eisen Show” on Tuesday, May 10.

Stroud confirmed the Bucs considered Mayfield during Brady’s 41-day retirement.

“I have not heard Baker being one of those exploratory deals,” Stroud told Eisen. “Like when they were looking for a quarterback to replace Tom Brady, they did work on Baker, and I don’t think they dislike him as a quarterback. In fact, I know a former coach here, Todd Monken, was the offensive coordinator here, went to Cleveland one year and loved the guy. And I respect Todd as much as anybody.”

Brady’s March 13 unretirement changed the landscape for the Bucs as key free agents re-signed. The Bucs have Brady through the 2022 season, but he will become a free agent in 2023, but he could also retire and begin his broadcasting career with FOX.

“You’re always looking. You always have a list. He was on that list,” Stroud told Eisen regarding Mayfield. “So was Deshaun Watson, which was a no-go for ownership apparently, so that wasn’t going to happen. So I really do believe they would have ended up with Blaine [Gabbert] and then Kyle [Trask].”

The latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Bucs!

Still Room for Mayfield?

Notably, the Bucs re-signed Gabbert as the backup to Brady for a third-consecutive season. Trask will likely have another redshirt-type year, Stroud noted. The Bucs also have backup quarterback Ryan Griffin, who joined the team in 2015, on the roster again.

“Right now, the [quarterback] room is kind of full with the four guys they’ve got,” Stroud told Eisen. “And I don’t think they’re looking to add anybody else, but in this business, Rich, nothing surprises you. Right now, I think they’re set.”

Holding Patterns With Mayfield Trade Suitors

Mayfield’s future looks anything but set. NFC South Division rival Carolina still has interest in Mayfield but “isn’t in any rush” according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson. Cleveland dealing Mayfield to Seattle also hasn’t progressed according to USA Today’s Mike Jones.

Teams interested in Mayfield face a potentially steep price because of Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary for 2022, according to Spotrac. The Bucs only have $12.9 million in salary cap space, per Spotrac, with many other priorities such as signing draft picks and free agents. Tampa Bay and other suitors likely would want the Browns to absorb a chunk of Mayfield’s contract.

Mayfield’s play dipped last season due to a shoulder injury, but he put up solid numbers in 2020 with 3,563 yards passing and 26 touchdowns. He went over 3,7000 yards passing his first two seasons with the Browns, and he threw 49 touchdowns between those first two campaigns.

READ NEXT: Bucs Could Pursue Former First Round Pick: Analysis