Buccaneers Coach Speaks Out on State of Baker Mayfield ‘Marriage’

Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers quarterback

Getty Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers quarterback

Before the start of the 2022 season, when the Buccaneers were not sure who was going to be the quarterback for the year—Tom Brady retired but had not yet unretired—the team considered adding former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. Instead, Brady came back and Mayfield was eventually traded to Carolina, a brief marriage that ended in his release. But the Bucs took another crack at Mayfield.

He signed a one-year, $4 million contract with incentives. Now, halfway through his first season in Tampa, coach Todd Bowles was asked for his review of Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers quarterback.

“I think it was a great fit,” Bowles said during his first press conference of the week. “It’s extremely fortunate for both of us – it was a great fit for us. For him, coming here, understanding the offense and doing what he’s down right now – we could have never imagined. We thought about it – we thought we could see it, but it’s coming true and it’s coming to fruition.

“I’m glad he’s happy here because we’re happy with him. I think it’s a great marriage.”

Baker Mayfield Has Revived Career in Tampa

Indeed, it has been a year in which Mayfield has resuscitated his NFL career, despite some obvious ups and downs throughout the season—most notably the losing streak that stretched a month, over four games from October 15 until this past Sunday’s win over the Titans.

Mayfield has thrown for an average of 238.1 yards per game, the third-most of his six-year career. His completion percentage of 64.6% is the best he has had and his quarterback rating (93.7) is the second-best of his career. He has thrown five interceptions this season, for a 1.6% interception rate, his lowest ever.

Ball protection has been an issue for Mayfield throughout his career, so the low interception rate is something he can build upon even beyond this year.

“Baker has been playing well for us,” Bowles said. “He really has been playing the quarterback position well. He’s a very smart player. He doesn’t get enough credit for his intelligence – going somewhere with the football, not just gritty and tough, which everybody uses. He’s been playing very good football and we’re very happy about that.”

Future of Bucs QB Spot Still in Doubt

As for the future of the Buccaneers-Baker Mayfield marriage, that is still cloudy. Mayfield has, no question, shown he still belongs as an NFL starting quarterback, but he is also clearly not a franchise-level guy. The Bucs have Kyle Trask and John Wolford behind Mayfield, but neither looks like a future star at the position.

At Pro Football Focus, Mayfield has a grade of 73.3 for the season, which is solid if unspectacular. He is ranked the 18th-best quarterback in a field of 38 in 2023. The problem for the Bucs is that Mayfield is a bargain at $4 million in a market in which players like Russell Wilson, Daniel Jones and DeShaun Watson are all earning more than $40 million per year.

Mayfield will be due a raise next year. Mayfield’s projected value, according to Spotrac, is a two-year deal worth $16.7 million per year. Whether the Buccaneers can, with a trove of free agents on the roster, afford to pay it—and keep the marriage alive—remains to be seen.

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