The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have found their next starting quarterback as the team plans to pursue former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Bucs are expected to “target ex-Rams QB Baker Mayfield as a potential starting QB option.” Following Tom Brady’s retirement, Kyle Trask is now the only quarterback currently on Tampa Bay’s roster.
“When free agency begins, the Bucs are expected to target ex-Rams QB Baker Mayfield as a potential starting QB option, per me and @MikeGarafolo,” Rapoport tweeted on March 12, 2023. “This could be competition for Kyle Trask, their former 2nd-round pick, who the team likes a lot. As TB plots life without Tom Brady.”
The Buccaneers would be Mayfield’s fourth team in two seasons as the quarterback was traded from the Browns to the Panthers last offseason. Carolina opted to release Mayfield last December, and the quarterback was claimed by the Rams. Tampa Bay was previously linked to Mayfield during Brady’s brief initial retirement last offseason.
The Bucs Plan to ‘Check in’ on a Few Available Veteran Quarterbacks Including Baker Mayfield: Report
Mayfield may not be the only veteran quarterback who the Bucs have on their radar. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Tampa Bay has “a few guys they’ll check in on” when free agency begins on Monday, March 13.
“The Buccaneers are looking for a veteran free agent QB at the right price,” Garafolo detailed on March 12. “They have a few guys they’ll check in on but Baker Mayfield could wind up making the most sense from a fit and financial standpoint.”
Tampa Bay Is Still a Projected $4.6 Million Above the Salary Cap Despite Recent Contract Restructures
Mayfield signed a four-year, $32.6 million rookie deal with the Browns as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft. The quarterback restructured his deal as part of his trade to Carolina and had a $4.8 million salary in 2022.
It remains to be seen what Mayfield will be able to command in free agency, but the signal-caller may be looking to sign a one-year prove-it deal to reestablish himself as an NFL starting quarterback. The Buccaneers still have some work to do in order to make Mayfield a competitive offer as the team is an estimated $4.6 million above the salary cap, per Spotrac, despite restructuring a number of deals including with Chris Godwin and Vita Vea.
Spotrac projects Mayfield’s market value to be a two-year, $13 million contract. The Score’s Jordan Schultz believes Mayfield will command an $8 million deal.
“It’s my understanding that the Rams would like to keep Baker Mayfield, but will have competition,” Schultz tweeted on March 6. “The 49ers like Mayfield and the Bucs are a sleeper. I’d expect him to land on a number around $8M.”
The Buccaneers Want to Create a QB Competition With Kyle Trask
The Bucs have openly gushed about Trask’s upside throughout the offseason, but the front office has also been frank about the team’s desire to create a quarterback competition. If Tampa Bay signs Mayfield, it does not rule out the Buccaneers turning over the offense to Trask.
“You have to give everybody competition,” general manager Jason Licht stated 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.”