Buccaneers Send Message to Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield

Getty Baker Mayfield will compete with Kyle Trask for the starting quarterback job.

For the first time in at least a decade, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a true quarterback competition in training camp.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who has served in that role since 2014, Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask to make things interesting in August. The Bucs signed Mayfield on Wednesday, March 15, to challenge Trask, a third-year signal caller with 10 snaps of regular season experience.

“It’s going to be a great competition. It’s going to be — since I’ve been here – the first real, legit QB competition in training camp, which will be a lot of fun to watch,” Licht told the media on Thursday, March 16. “It’s going to make both of them better, I feel real confident about what [new offensive coordinator] Dave [Canales] is going to do with the offense and with these quarterbacks”

“Both of them are great competitors,” Licht added. “One [Mayfield] is a little more outwardly competitive than the other. The other one [Trask] is just as competitive, just more of a quiet competitor. But they are both equally competitive.”

Mayfield, a former No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Browns, enjoyed success by Lake Eerie before the Browns traded him, after a subpar 2021 season, to the Carolina Panthers in 2022. His season with the Panthers failed to impress, and the team released him as he finished the year with the Los Angeles Rams.

“We did our homework and we got the same [feedback from the Browns, Panthers and Rams], which is that he’s an awesome person, a fiery competitor, very smart and very driven,” Licht said. “And a great teammate.”

Mayfield has a 31-38 career record with a 16,288 yards passing and 102 touchdowns versus 64 interceptions. He also has two games of playoff experience from his Browns days with 467 yards passing for four touchdowns versus one interception amid a 1-1 record.

“He’s had a lot of success,” Licht said of Mayfield. “He took Cleveland to the playoffs for the first time since 1994 when Coach [Bill] Belichick was coaching. That says something. We’re excited to have him, and add him to the fray.”

Trask, whom the Bucs drafted with a second-round pick in 2021 to possibly replace Tom Brady, will have to out-perform Mayfield after two seasons of learning behind Brady. Trask didn’t play in a regular season game until Week 18 of the 2022 campaign, and he didn’t wow in six preseason games with two touchdown passes versus four interceptions.

ESPN’s Jeff Darlington previously reported that the Bucs had Trask in mind as the starter after Brady’s retirement in February. However, the Bucs also needed to add another quarterback or two with only Trask on the roster at the time.

Licht: ‘I Would Do it All Again’

With the Brady area officially closed, Licht said all salary cap trouble was worth it. The Bucs went $58.5 million over the cap this year due to previous spending during Brady’s time in Tampa. That included Brady’s $35.1 million cap hit after retirement this year.

Getting under the cap took multiple cuts and restructured contracts before the new league year. The Bucs also managed to re-sign defensive veterans Lavonte David, Jamel Dean, and Anthony Nelson amid the cap challenges.

“If I go back in time I would do it all again. We pushed, we borrowed about $100 million against this year’s cap and future cap to do what we did,” Licht told reporters. “Came close the second time but you know if anybody wants to criticize what they did, they can come to any of our three homes and look at our ring. . . . We’re gonna pursue another one too.”

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