Buccaneers a ‘Sleeper’ to Land ‘8 Million’ Quarterback, Says Insider

Bruce Arians

Getty Bruce Arians believes Todd Bowles can get the job done.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have sat out of the big money quarterback deals following Tom Brady’s retirement, but the team continues to be tied to former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield. The Score’s Jordan Schultz reported that the Bucs are a “sleeper” team to potentially sign Mayfield estimating that the signal-caller’s next deal will be around $8 million. The Rams and 49ers are two additional suitors for Mayfield as free agency begins, per Schultz.

“It’s my understanding that the Rams would like to keep Baker Mayfield, but will have competition,” Schultz tweeted on March 6, 2023. “The 49ers like Mayfield and the Bucs are a sleeper. I’d expect him to land on a number around $8M.”

The news coincides with a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that cited buzz during the NFL Combine about Tampa Bay as a potential landing spot for Mayfield. The NFL insider also labeled Drew Lock as a potential fit for the Buccaneers following the team’s hiring of former Seahawks assistant Dave Canales.

“The Bucs and 49ers came up most often when I asked around about quarterback Baker Mayfield’s market,” Fowler detailed on March 5. “Tampa Bay is looking at bringing in a veteran arm. Drew Lock, who was the backup in Seattle last year, is also an option there. And the 49ers need veteran help due to injuries to Trey Lance and Brock Purdy. Mason Rudolph would also make some sense there.”

The Bucs Could Create a QB Competition Between Baker Mayfield & Kyle Trask

The days of Mayfield being handed a starting job given his status as a former highly-touted prospect are over. Yet, the Buccaneers make a lot of sense given the team is one of the few franchises that could offer Mayfield a legitimate opportunity to compete for the starting job. Tampa Bay is more than $47.9 million above the salary cap, per Spotrac and has work to do in order to be able to make the veteran a competitive offer.

While the Bucs have continuously praised Kyle Trask, general manager Jason Licht has also been open about his desire to create a quarterback competition. Heading into free agency, Trask is the lone quarterback on the Buccaneers roster meaning additional moves are on the way.

“You have to give everybody competition,” Licht explained during a February 28 press conference. “He’s the only quarterback on our roster right now. I’m just saying if he were the starter, or if he was the only option that we had right now, we’d be very, very excited about going forward with him. And he’s going to get the opportunity, no matter who we bring in, to be the starter.”

Baker Mayfield Threw for 3,563 Yards, 26 Touchdowns & 8 Interceptions in 2020

Mayfield is likely seeking a one-year prove-it deal where the quarterback can hope to follow players like Geno Smith and Daniel Jones who played their way into new lucrative long-term contracts. If Mayfield leaves the Rams, it will mark the quarterback’s fourth team in two seasons. Despite being released by the Panthers, Mayfield was able to show some flashes late in the season after joining the Rams.

Spotrac projects Mayfield’s market value to be a two-year, $13 million deal. Mayfield’s best season came in 2020 when the signal-caller threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 62.8% of his passes in 16 starts for Cleveland.

The former No. 1 pick also led the Browns to a playoff victory over the Steelers during the same season. Mayfield posted 850 passing yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 63.6% of his passes in five appearances for Los Angeles to end the 2022 season.