New Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t get a naively pristine welcome to Tampa as a former No. 1 draft pick.
Columnist John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times made it clear that Mayfield’s comment of “never going to be Tom Brady” will likely ring painfully clear into the fall of 2023. Romano said it all in his headline.
“Hey Baker Mayfield, good luck in Tampa Bay. You’re going to need it,” Romano wrote.
The Bucs signed Mayfield officially on Monday, March 20, as he begins his stint with a fourth different team since the 2021 season. Tampa Bay needed a veteran quarterback to compete with third-year signal caller Kyle Trask in the wake of Brady’s February 1 retirement.
Romano writes that “it’s not likely” for Mayfield to take off in Tampa Bay. Mayfield’s resume still looks good before 2021, as Romano noted, with a Heisman Trophy and leading the Cleveland Browns to their first playoff appearance since 1994.
“That’s not criticism, by the way,” Romano explained about Mayfield. “Merely an observation based on the evidence, the history of the NFL and the current condition of the Bucs roster.”
Bucs Offense Doesn’t Scream Success for Mayfield
While Mayfield will inherit star wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as Brady did, the similarities end there.
“He did not choose Tampa Bay because the Bucs look like an up-and-coming team the way they did when Brady was a free agent in 2020,” Romano wrote. “Mayfield came because his options were limited and the Bucs likely offered him the easiest path to a starting job.”
“And now he has to revive his career with an offense that could not run the ball last season, a center coming off a major knee injury, an undetermined replacement at left tackle and a rookie offensive coordinator,” Romano added. “Not to mention, a head coach who might be on the hot seat.”
The Bucs also don’t have running back Leonard Fournette, and the franchise will enter a second year without retired tight end Rob Gronkowski. Running back Rachaad White and tight end Cade Otton will need to step up big in their sophomore campaigns.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line remains in major flux, as Romano previously mentioned, with tackle Tristan Wirfs and center Ryan Jensen as the only ones left from the 2020 Super Bowl team. USA Today’s Bucs Wire projects Nick Leverett and Robert Hainsey as the other starters along with projected draft pick Anton Harrison from Oklahoma — Mayfield’s alma mater.
History Doesn’t Favor Mayfield
For Mayfield to pull off a big year and career turnaround in Tampa Bay, he will need to do what many of his first-round peers and predecessors failed to do.
“There is an entire golf course filled with quarterbacks who were taken high in recent drafts and, a few years later, were bouncing around from training camp to training camp,” Romano added with a list of past disappointments around the league. “Like Mayfield, some of those QBs had early flashes of success with their original team. But all of them moved on fairly quickly, and not one of them went on to win a playoff game with a second team.”
Romano notably included former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr on the list of failed first-rounders with a new team. Romano also pointed out that the Bucs are looking for Mayfield to become a rare quarterback who thrives with another team after a failed first try.
Of the successful turnaround quarterbacks whom Romano mentioned, only one went in the first round of the draft and not as high as Mayfield. That’s Kerry Collins, who led the New York Giants to a Super Bowl appearance in 2000 after uninspiring stints with the Saints and Carolina Panthers.
Coach Romano needs to study more, and I have little faith in him. As for Carr, he was a Second Round Pick, that started for 9 years on a Team with a Defensive never ranked higher than 22, and often 30. Never Had a True #1 Receiver. Every little positive came out of the Raiders during that time, yet Carr was still a contender for an MVP and went to a few Pro Bowles.
No one cares (but maybe him) if he starts in front of Trask. We just need an average QB this year to try to accomplish our goal of winning the division. It will fall a lot to the rest of the team, imo.