Buccaneers Break Silence on Baker Mayfield Trade Rumors

Getty Images Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not exactly squash the wild notion that the team could be in the mix to acquire a quarterback like Baker Mayfield. During a March 23, 2022 interview with Mad Dog Radio’s Adam Schein, Bucs general manager Jason Licht was asked if the team is interested in making a deal for Mayfield.

“We might still add someone,” Licht responded. “I don’t want to talk about a player that’s on another team’s roster right now, but we still may add a veteran quarterback. We’re just going to have to see how it goes here.”

The Buccaneers received good news with the return of Tom Brady, but the quarterback only has one year remaining on his contract. Licht also praised Kyle Trask but admitted the team would continue to explore “the entire market” when it comes to available quarterbacks.

“We’re still kind of checking out the entire market here, and we’ll see what happens here,” Licht noted.

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Mayfield’s $18.8 Million Salary Makes a Deal Unlikely

The Browns are running out of available trade partners for Mayfield since making a blockbuster deal for Deshaun Watson. The Athletic’s Ben Standig reported there is a growing buzz around the NFL that the Browns will have to send a draft pick with Mayfield to be able to move the quarterback.

“Baker Mayfield’s future was a popular topic at [Malik] Willis’s pro day,” Standig tweeted on March 22. “Nobody had a simple resolution. One executive with another team dismissed Seattle, believing they buy into Drew Lock. Some wondered if Browns get Osweiler’d — having to include a pick with Mayfield. Yikes.”

Given Mayfield’s low trade value, it will be interesting to see if Tampa could get into the mix. The biggest hurdle for the Bucs would be Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary, but the Browns may be forced to eat a portion of this to be able to make a trade. The Bucs were brought into the Mayfield rumors after former NFL quarterback turned ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky urged the team to make a run at the quarterback.

“The @Buccaneers should trade for Baker Mayfield,” Orlovsky tweeted on March 22.

The Browns May Be Forced to Pay Some of Mayfield’s Salary as Part of Trade

There are a series of hurdles that will likely prevent Tampa Bay from landing Mayfield. The Buccaneers are currently more than $4 million over the cap with other holes on the roster to fill, per Over the Cap. Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary becomes a deal breaker, even if Cleveland is willing to eat a portion of the quarterback’s money.

The idea of adding Mayfield would be to make him the likely successor to Brady when the legend retires. Yet, Mayfield has just one year remaining on his current contract, making him a free agent next offseason when the Buccaneers could need the quarterback the most if Brady retires for good.

Despite the challenges, Licht is keeping the door cracked for Mayfield or another quarterback just in case something emerges that is too good to pass up. Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline believes Mayfield’s next team will depend on who is willing to pay the highest percentage of the quarterback’s salary.

“It’s not only about the compensation required for acquiring Mayfield but also how much of his guaranteed contract the Browns will be willing to eat as part of any trade,” Pauline detailed on March 23. “When the Browns picked up Mayfield’s fifth-year option, it came with a guaranteed payment of slightly under $19 million for the upcoming season.

“I’m told any team that trades for Mayfield will want the Browns to absorb a portion of that amount. And while the Cleveland front office is working with Mayfield’s team to ship him to a place he desires, it is the franchise that is willing to accept the largest portion of his contract that could ultimately wind up with the former No. 1 pick.”

Mayfield Will Be a Free Agent in 2023

Although unlikely, the Buccaneers pulling off a trade for Mayfield only makes sense if Tampa is willing to sign the quarterback to a contract extension. That is a big risk to take on a player following a disappointing season who has not been in your building. Mayfield threw for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 60.5% of his passes during his 14 appearances in 2021.

“This is intriguing but my guess is they’re not giving up significant draft capital for Baker Mayfield in a year they’re trying to win it all,” Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud tweeted on March 23. “To a lesser concern, you would be giving up on Kyle Trask. He’s $18.85M this year and would need a long-term extension.”

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