Buccaneers Predicted to Replace Baker Mayfield With 36-TD Quarterback

Baker Mayfield

Getty The Buccaneers could consider replacing Baker Mayfield with Michael Penix Jr.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be an ideal landing spot for an enigma at quarterback.

According to CBS Sports’ Kyle Stackpole’s mock draft, he predicts the Buccaneers to land University of Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 26 overall pick. While the pick is obviously interesting, the selection becomes even more enticing because Stackpole predicts that Penix will replace Baker Mayfield — who is a free agent — in 2024.

“Bruce Arians is no longer the head coach in Tampa Bay, but he still holds a lot of power as a senior adviser to GM Jason Licht,” writes Stackpole. “And one QB who he has gushed over is Michael Penix Jr. In this mock, the Buccaneers get the all clear about Penix’s medicals and draft the Washington signal-caller to replace Baker Mayfield in 2024.”

Why the Buccaneers Could Consider Michael Penix Jr.

While the prospect of Mayfield leaving Tampa Bay is a possibility, the idea of the Buccaneers replacing the Pro Bowl quarterback with a questionable rookie quarterback after a playoff season is gutsy.

The 23-year-old Penix — who will be 24 years old before the start of the season — is a highly accomplished collegiate quarterback. Not only did he lead the Washington Huskies to a National Championship Game appearance, he was named a first-team All-American and the Maxwell Award winner during the 2023 season.

Penix led the nation in passing yards (4,903) and threw 36 touchdown passes with three rushing touchdowns. His 39 total touchdowns ranked seventh in the nation.

With that being said, there are question marks surrounding whether or not Penix’s collegiate success will transition to the professional ranks. The left-handed quarterback has a history of serious injuries, suffering a torn ACL during his freshman year in 2018 before suffering another torn ACL during the 2020 season. He had four consecutive seasons at Indiana University (2018-2021) where he suffered season-ending injuries.

Penix’s history of injuries combined with his lack of elite athleticism — he had eight rushing yards during his final season at Washington — makes his draft projection tricky.

With that being said, many project him to be the fourth or fifth-best quarterback behind the top tier of gun-slingers in Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels. Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema projects Penix as the fourth-best quarterback of the 2024 NFL draft.

“Penix is a bit of a college football journeyman but is lighting up the scoreboard in 2023,” writes Sikkema. “His combination of experience and high-end arm talent is propelling him. He has a bit of an unorthodox throwing style — from his lower body mechanics to his throwing motion — but can sling it.”

Bucs Could Offer $75 Million Deal to Baker Mayfield

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers’ starter from the 2023 season, Mayfield, will be one of the best available quarterbacks on the free agency market.

Both have expressed a mutual interest to run it back for the 2024 season. CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones projects Tampa Bay’s offer to Mayfield to be a tick above the deal that the Seattle Seahawks signed Geno Smith to last offseason.

“It’s possible, if not likely, the Buccaneers would value Mayfield more than any other NFL team,” writes Jones. “But that doesn’t mean they can lowball him and run the risk of disrespecting the quarterback. A reasonable starting point, according to league sources, would be a tick above Geno Smith’s three-year, $75 million deal with Seattle last year that allowed for a Seahawks out after one season.”

By the time the draft rolls around in April, we’ll know whether or not Mayfield re-signs with Tampa Bay. If Mayfield chooses to move on, the Buccaneers will likely select a quarterback — potentially in the first round — during the 2024 NFL draft.

Read More