Proposed Trade Sends Buccaneers a Record-Setting Quarterback

Baker Mayfield

Getty The Buccaneers could acquire Justin Fields if Baker Mayfield leaves.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be an ideal landing spot for an athletic dual-threat quarterback.

In a trade scenario suggested by Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, the Buccaneers would acquire Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields by flipping linebacker Shaquil Barrett, wide receiver Russell Gage and multiple draft picks, including a 2024 second-round pick (57th overall) and fourth-round pick (126th overall) along with a 2025 third-round pick.

While both the Buccaneers and Baker Mayfield have expressed a mutual desire to run it back next season, Mayfield is a free agent and the possibility of him not returning is there. If that ends up being the case, Tampa Bay would need a new franchise quarterback. Considering their first pick isn’t until No. 26 in the 2024 NFL draft, Fields becomes possibly their next best option.

“According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Winfield, not Mayfield, is the Buccaneers’ most likely franchise-tag candidate,” writes Knox. “If the Bucs get the sense that they can’t retain Mayfield, they could pivot to Fields since they aren’t likely to land a top quarterback prospect at No. 26 overall.”

Why Justin Fields Is an Appealing Option

Fields is probably the definition of an enigma at quarterback. His skill set is undeniable considering his ability to both run and throw the football. The 24-year-old holds the NFL’s single-game rushing record when he ran for 178 yards in a game against the Miami Dolphins in 2022.

To top it all off, he ran for 1,143 rushing yards (7.1 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns during the 2022 season, leading all players in rushing average. His rushing yards total is the second-most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history.

While his passing numbers have never been impressive, Fields’ efficiency has slowly gone up over his first three seasons. After completing 58.9% of his passes with a 73.2 passer rating during his rookie season, his third season totals saw Fields complete 61.4% of his passes with an 86.3 passer rating.

Fields went on a bit of a tear after returning in Week 11 following a four-game absence due to shoulder and thumb injuries. The Bears went 4-3 while Fields threw for 1,361 passing yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions to go along with 420 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Across his final seven games, Fields posted at least three games with at least a 97.9 passer rating.

However, he holds an absolutely woeful 10-28 record (26.3%) as a starter.

Why Bears Could Trade Justin Fields

The Bears holding the No. 1 overall pick in the draft combined with Fields on the verge of completing his rookie deal makes him a viable candidate to be traded.

According to Spotrac, Fields’ market value is $47.1 million per season across six years for a total of nearly $283.2 million. Considering the Bears could simply select a rookie quarterback and pay him a fraction of what they would be due to pay Fields, the more likely scenario sees them simply trading the dual-threat quarterback.

By comparison, Mayfield — who is coming off of his first Pro Bowl campaign — holds a projected market value of just $27.1 million per season across four years for a total of $108.5 million.

As mentioned by Knox, Gage and Barrett are two potential cap casualties for Tampa Bay. Those two veterans combined with the draft picks — even without a first-round selection — may be enough to entice Chicago.

“Given Tampa’s position in the draft order, second- and fourth-round picks alone might not be enough to entice Chicago,” says Knox. “However, receiver Russell Gage and pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett, two potential cap casualties for the Bucs, could address needs for the Bears.”

The Buccaneers would obviously prefer signing Mayfield. However, a viable backup plan is trading for Fields.



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