The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield to their quarterback room on Wednesday, signing the former Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, and Los Angeles Rams playmaker to a one-year deal worth up to $8.5 million. Mayfield was the best unrestricted free agent quarterback available after others had been franchise tagged or were signed long term.
Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Agree To One-Year Contract
Mayfield figures to be Tom Brady’s successor but will enter a training camp battle with third-year quarterback Kyle Trask. New Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator Dave Canales called Trask “a point guard” earlier this offseason. If that’s true, then Mayfield will present a different style for Canales to work with.
Baker Mayfield Analysis: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Make Safe Move Signing Mayfield, Keep QB Options Open
A short-term deal worth less than $10 million is unlikely to shape the future of the franchise. The Buccaneers only have one quarterback on their roster and will likely add one or two more in addition to Mayfield before training camp breaks. One of them could be their actual quarterback of the future.
Trask is an untested, but largely unappealing option as the future of the franchise, so bringing in legitimate competition isn’t a bad idea. This allows the Buccaneers to be a little bit more flexible in the draft and not force their hand at quarterback if the options aren’t there without preventing them from grabbing one if a player they like does fall into striking distance.
Initially, Mayfield showed promise as the first overall pick in 2018, taking off after running backs coach Freddie Kitchens took over the offense following Hue Jackson’s dismissal halfway through the season. That success didn’t last through 2019, but it set the foundation for Cleveland to pursue a head coach with familiarity over the kinds of systems that would best enable Mayfield.
Mayfield played well in 2020 for the Browns in his first year with head coach Kevin Stefanski, but injuries plagued his 2021 season, including a lingering shoulder problem that impacted his ability to throw. On top of that, Mayfield’s decision-making seemed to suffer while his skittishness in the pocket made relying on him a difficult task.
After signing with the Panthers the following season, earning the starting job after a competition with Sam Darnold and rookie Matt Corral, Mayfield continued to struggle, especially with throws beyond the 10-yard mark or to the sideline. A trade to the Rams and time with Sean McVay seemingly once again revived his career, but after a short-term burst in production, Mayfield once again fell back to Earth.
This time, in Tampa Bay, it seems like the opportunities to reclaim his career are running out, and Mayfield will likely be a long-term backup with game-management upside. But the flashes were there throughout his career, and it’s possible that the right offensive coordinator and supporting cast can unlock a solid quarterback.
The Buccaneers are probably not counting on that, however, and will likely keep their options open.