The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be an ideal landing spot for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance.
As noted by The 33rd Team’s Jeff Diamond, a “potential” trade partner for the former No. 3 overall pick is none other than the Buccaneers. Diamond brings up how Tampa Bay has a “questionable” quarterback situation with Baker Mayfield as the projected starter — Kyle Trask is currently battling with him for the starting job — and how the Buccaneers can easily afford Lance’s $3.76 million pay for the upcoming season.
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons or Washington Commanders all have questionable quarterback situations with Baker Mayfield (Buccaneers), Desmond Ridder (Falcons) and Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett (Commanders) as projected starters,” writes Diamond. “All three teams can easily afford Lance’s minimal base salary this season.”
Buccaneers Previously Pitched as Landing Spot for Trey Lance
This isn’t the first time the Buccaneers have been pitched as a potential landing spot for Lance. In fact, ESPN’s Dan Graziano mentioned how Tampa Bay makes sense for Lance back in January just prior to Tom Brady’s retirement.
“I’ve said this before about other teams, but I’d look into trading for Trey Lance,” wrote Graziano. “The 49ers might be about to win the Super Bowl with Brock Purdy at quarterback. Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 draft, is still just 22. Get him healthy, pair him with the right offensive coordinator and reap the benefits of the development work the Niners did with him.”
There has been no indication from the 49ers that they plan on moving on from Lance prior to the start of the season. In fact, one very likely scenario could see San Francisco simply retain Lance considering Brock Purdy — last year’s end-of-season starter — is coming back from a UCL injury that sidelined him for several months. Furthermore, Sam Darnold is the other quarterback on the roster and there’s no guaranteed he’s cemented a spot on the 53-man roster.
With that being said, Lance offers better trade value than Darnold considering he’s three years younger than the latter and when also factoring in his potential and athleticism.
“Darnold is also a trade candidate, but if Lance performs well this preseason, he would likely bring a better return in a trade considering his lofty draft status. Darnold would only bring a cap savings of $1.55 million if traded or released,” writes Diamond.
While many know what to expect out of Darnold considering he has started 55 games over his five-year career, Lance is a major unknown. The North Dakota State product not only started just 17 games at the small FCS school — he started just one game during his last year due to the season being postponed — he has started just four games during his NFL career.
Why Trey Lance Could Make Sense for Buccaneers
Lance has gone 2-2 as a starter, showing off his dual-threat athleticism in those starts. During a 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2021 season, Lance passed for 189 yards in addition to rushing for 89 yards. During his first start of the 2022 season — he entered the year as the starting quarterback before a season-ending ankle injury — he ran for 54 yards in a loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Buccaneers’ quarterback situation isn’t exactly impressive. Mayfield is the frontrunner and while he has previously won a playoff game, he is playing for his fourth team in a little over a year. Furthermore, Mayfield has never been a great quarterback as he’s never ranked within the top 10 in the major passing categories — touchdowns, passing yards and passer rating — in a single season.
Meanwhile, Trask has appeared in just one game during his career and actually served as the third-string quarterback behind Blaine Gabbert in his first two seasons.
If Lance does become available in a possible trade, the Buccaneers could obviously benefit due to his potential and his low cost. However, whether or not Tampa Bay pursues Lance largely hinges on the direction of the franchise.
The Buccaneers could opt to trade for Lance. In that scenario, they would likely be taking their name out of consideration for USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who is projected to be the top pick in next year’s draft.
However, if Tampa Bay is dead set on drafting their quarterback of the future in next year’s draft, it’s hard to envision a scenario where they make a play for Lance.