Bucs Predicted to Sign Former No. 1 Draft Pick Quarterback

Tom Brady

Getty Buccaneers senior advisor Bruce Arians the team's front office will still look for a veteran quarterback after Tom Brady's retirement.

Reports of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ plan to start quarterback Kyle Trask after Tom Brady’s retirement won’t end the search for a veteran free agent.

Pro Football Network’s Dallas Robinson predicts that the Bucs, despite facing $55.5 million over the salary cap, will sign 2018 No. 1 NFL Draft pick Baker Mayfield in free agency next month. Mayfield played four seasons for the Cleveland Browns and led the team to the playoffs once, but Mayfield dealt with a difficult 2022 season on two different squads.

“I wouldn’t expect the Bucs to dabble too much in the free agent market, but if they want to bring in competition for third-year quarterback Kyle Trask, Baker Mayfield could do the trick,” Robinson wrote.

“He’s unlikely to be expensive, but his late-season run with the [Los Angeles] Rams might indicate he’s still capable of being a starter,” Robinson added. “A training camp competition between Trask and Mayfield wouldn’t be the worst outcome for a team on the cusp of resetting.”

How Mayfield Could Fit in With the Bucs

Mayfield, 27, arguably could beat out Trask for the starting job despite ups and downs in recent years.

While Mayfield’s 2022 season started off poorly with the Carolina Panthers, it ended strong with the Rams. He posted a 63.6% completion rate for 850 yards and four touchdowns versus two interceptions in four games for a  banged-up squad that went 5-12 overall. Mayfield previously went 1-5 with the Panthers, before his release, as he threw for 1,313 yards and six touchdowns versus six interceptions.

Mayfield saw better days in Cleveland, especially in 2020 when he threw for 3,563 yards and 26 touchdowns versus eight interceptions. He led the Browns to an 11-5 record and the team’s first playoff win since 1994. In four seasons with the Browns, Mayfield went 29-30 and threw for 14,125 yards and 92 touchdowns versus 56 interceptions before the team traded him to Carolina in 2022.

New Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales could help Mayfield get back to a higher level of play in 2023. Canales notably helped career backup quarterback Geno Smith produce a career year in 2022 with the Seattle Seahawks. Smith threw for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions amid Canales’ guidance as the team’s quarterbacks coach.

Spotrac projects that Mayfield can only command $6.5 million annually in free agency, which could work with the Bucs’ dire salary cap situation.

Bucs Set on Trask?

Mayfield might not win the starting job as the Bucs “feel like Kyle Trask is likely to be the guy” according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington. However, Bucs senior advisor and former head coach Bruce Arians indicated that the Bucs will still look “behind door No. 2” for a veteran quarterback during an interview on “The Rich Eisen Show”.

Tampa Bay only has Trask under contract for the quarterback room and will need to sign another two signal callers through free agency and possibly the draft. Bucs quarterback Blaine Gabbert could test free agency in March, and the Bucs didn’t renew a contract with practice squad quarterback Ryan Griffin.

A second-round pick in 2021, Trask only has 10 regular season snaps, and the team didn’t have him suit up for games for all of the 2021 season and most of the 2022 season. His numbers in six preseason games also didn’t hold tons of promise with two touchdowns versus four interceptions.