The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to be linked to Baker Mayfield despite the team having Tom Brady ditch retirement life after 40 days to once again be the QB1. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson labeled the Bucs as a possible option for Mayfield if the Browns ultimately end up releasing the quarterback. Robinson noted that Mayfield may need to pursue a team like the Bucs with a “two-year window approach” where he could become the quarterback in waiting for whenever Brady retires (for good).
“The two-year window approach could include as many as nine teams: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers preparing for life after Tom Brady following this season,” Robinson wrote on March 28. “The Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions both knowing they can exit the contracts of Ryan Tannehill and Jared Goff for minimal salary cap pain next offseason; Mitchell Trubisky and Marcus Mariota both effectively being on one-year ‘show me’ deals with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons; Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold effectively being in the last year of their deals with the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers; and then teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints measuring Jalen Hurts and James Winston in 2022.
“That’s a fairly wide swath of teams, but also easier to envision for Mayfield if he’s running his own free agency later this offseason. For now, that isn’t happening. And it may stay that way for a while as Cleveland waits to see if circumstances push someone to the trade table unexpectedly.”
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Licht on Mayfield Rumors: ‘We Might Still Add Someone’
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht was asked if the team could pursue Mayfield, and the executive stopped short of ruling out a potential move. Mayfield’s trade value is at an all-time low, but the Bucs would need the Browns to eat some of his $18.8 million salary for a deal to be possible. It is much more feasible for the Buccaneers to be able to sign Mayfield as a free agent (if he is released) where they can agree to a new contract that makes sense for both parties.
“We might still add someone,” Licht told Mad Dog Radio’s Adam Schein on March 23 when asked about a potential Mayfield deal. “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 Bucs Are an Attractive Option for Mayfield With 2023 in Mind
If Mayfield hits the open market, the Bucs are unlikely to be as an attractive option as places like the Seahawks, Panthers and Lions where he could compete to once again be a starting quarterback. An AFC general manager noted that Mayfield should be looking at potential landing spots with 2023 in mind.
“A better question, maybe the more realistic question, might be which teams could need a starter in 2023,” the exec told Robinson. “Because there are places he could go in 2022 with the intention of being a successor to someone. If he’s willing to take that approach, his free agency could aim at a lot of places.”
Arians on Possible QB Moves: ‘We Had Started to Uncover as Many Stones as We Possibly Could’
The Buccaneers are far from the most likely option for Mayfield, but Tampa does make some sense as a safe landing spot if the signal-caller wishes to revitalize his career. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians admitted the team was uncovering “as many stones as we possibly could” at quarterback before Brady informed the team that he was returning.
“We had started to uncover as many stones as we possibly could,” Arians told NFL.com on March 27. “We would’ve turned over every stone. … Jason did his calls. We were in the midst of all that stuff when Tom decided to come back and thank God we could say, ‘No thanks, brother. We’re out of it.'”
Mayfield is coming off the worst season of his career as he struggled to produce consistently while playing through a shoulder injury. The quarterback threw for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 60.5% of his passes in 14 starts last season. Mayfield is just one year removed from throwing for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions as the quarterback led the Browns to the postseason.