“I think it’s something that is going to continue throughout the season to push Baker [Mayfield] and push Kyle [Trask], as well,” Licht told reporters on Thursday, August 31, about the quarterback competition.
Mayfield won the starting job on August 22, but Trask provided competition throughout training camp. The Bucs signed Mayfield in March as the potential starter after Tom Brady‘s retirement, but Trask’s emergence was welcomed by the Bucs.
“It was everything I hoped it would be, really, to be honest with you,” Licht said. “It was fun to go out there every day and just see, ‘OK, what’s going to happen today?’ It made us better in the end. I think Baker is in a great headspace right now, so I’m excited to see how this turns out.”
Licht and Bucs head coach Todd Bowles maintained that they had an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Mayfield’s interceptions versus Trask’s improvement and care of the ball early in training camp turned heads.
I probably didn’t see it too much different than you guys did,” Licht told reporters. “But it was close. It was awesome to see Kyle take the steps that he did to make it as close as it was.”
“Because of that, it made Baker better. And Baker — we talk a lot about Kyle and how great he was, but Baker was obviously better, or we wouldn’t have chosen him to be the starter, collectively,” Licht added.
Baker Mayfield Has Vastly More Experience Amid Mixed Results
Mayfield came to Tampa Bay with vastly more experience as a former No. 1 pick of the Cleveland Browns. In 69 career starts, Mayfield led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 and won at least six games with a franchise that failed to win six games between 2015 and 2017 before his arrival.
Cleveland hadn’t won a playoff game since 1994 before Mayfield’s arrival. However, his falling out with the Browns as the team opted for Deshaun Watson at quarterback leaves many questions for the former Oklahoma star.
The Browns traded Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers in 2022, and he lasted six games before the Panthers released him. He showed signs of resurgence late in the 2022 season during a short stint with the Los Angeles Rams.
Mayfield has 16,288 yards passing for 102 touchdowns versus 64 interceptions in his career, and he has completed 61.4% of his passes. He has four seasons where he threw for 3,010 or more yards and three seasons where he threw 22 or more touchdowns.
Kyle Trask Showed Signs of Improvement When it Counted Most
Trask, meanwhile, has minimal NFL regular season experience. A former second-round pick, Trask sat behind Brady and Blaine Gabbert for two seasons and didn’t play until the second half of a Week 18 game against the Atlanta Falcons in 2022.
However, Trask showed improved play in preseason action amid two victories. Trask threw for 218 yards and touchdowns on 20-28 passing in a 13-6 win over the New York Jets on August 19. He went 19-31 for 192 yards and a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in a 26-20 win on August 26.