Bucs insider Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times said it’s “absolutely” still possible to pursue Mayfield during an appearance on the “Dan Patrick Show” on Thursday, February 2. Brady retired from the Bucs on Wednesday, February 1, which created added urgency for the Bucs to find a new starting quarterback.
“I think a lot of it depends on who the [offensive] coordinator is, but listen, they were looking last year for quarterbacks when Brady was out for those 40 days and Baker was on that list,” Stroud told Patrick regarding Mayfield.
A former No. 1 draft pick set to become a free agent in March, Mayfield has ties to Bucs offensive coordinator candidate Todd Monken, who interviewed with the team this week. Monken, a former Bucs offensive coordinator in 2018, worked with Mayfield in Cleveland as the offensive coordinator in 2019 before a stellar run with the Georgia Bulldogs, which began in 2020.
Stroud said Monken “absolutely loved the guy” during Patrick’s show.
Mayfield Had Topsy-Turvy 2022
Tampa Bay’s previous interest in Mayfield during the offseason in 2022 occurred before his topsy-turvy, three-team tour that year.
Cleveland, which drafted Mayfield in 2018, traded him to the Carolina Panthers after the Browns acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson. Mayfield didn’t pan out with the Panthers after six games, and the team released him in December 2022. He found footing in Los Angeles with five solid games to end the 2022 campaign.
Los Angeles won’t keep Mayfield since injured starter Matthew Stafford is expected to return for 2023, but Mayfield filled in effectively with 850 yards for 4 touchdowns versus two interceptions in five games. He went 1-3 for a Rams squad that stumbled to 5-12 overall with a slew of injuries. Mayfield’s production came without key wide receivers such as Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II. Rams head coach Sean McVay liked what he saw in Mayfield.
“Been huge. He’s left a huge impression and I think all of his teammates would echo that same sentiment,” McVay said during the “Coach McVay Show” on January 4. “Been really impressed with him. I don’t think you can minimize how quickly he’s come in, endeared himself to his teammates, gotten familiar with some of the vernacular, the verbiage, and then you’re going out and playing NFL-caliber football games.”
With that said, McVay acknowledged that perceptions of Mayfield haven’t been the highest. Mayfield struggled with the Browns in 2021 amid a shoulder injury and threw just as many interceptions as he did touchdowns, six, in 2022 for Carolina before the Rams stint.
“I just know I think very highly of him and I’ve loved working with him,” McVay added.
Mayfield completed 60% or fewer of his passes between his final season in Cleveland and six games with the Panthers. His best season came in 2020 when he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff win with 3,563 yards passing for 26 touchdowns versus eight interceptions. He completed 62.8% of his passes that season.
Bucs Could Afford Mayfield Amid Questions
Because unknowns remain on which version of Mayfield a team will, market value for his services remain low. Spotrac projects him at $6.5 million annually, a price the Bucs can afford amid salary cap issues.
Despite the Bucs’ $55.7 million over the cap, per Spotrac, the Bucs already have most of the offensive starters under contract for 2023. That includes wide receiver Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who both had 1,000-yard seasons despite the team’s offensive struggles.
If Mayfield joins the Bucs and returns to 2020 form with a familiar play caller such as Monken, the Bucs offense could move forward from a lackluster 2022 season.