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    Did Baker Mayfield Already Win the Buccaneers’ Starting QB Job?

    Baker Mayfield was supposedly still battling Kyle Trask for the Buccaneers' starting QB gig. But a decision by Todd Bowles on Saturday suggested otherwise.

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    Baker Mayfield vs. Kyle Trask was at least supposed to be interesting. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fielding one of the few true quarterback competitions in the NFL heading into the 2023 regular season, gave Mayfield the start in their first preseason game but cautioned this battle was far from over.

    Trask started Tampa Bay’s second exhibition game against the New York Jets on Saturday night, and Mayfield was scheduled to follow him in the pecking order in a reversal of the Bucs’ Week 1 rotation.

    But then, Mayfield never entered the game.

    Baker Mayfield May Already Be the Buccaneers’ QB1

    Instead of Mayfield coming out to start the second half, John Wolford, Tampa Bay’s third-string quarterback, was under center to begin the second quarter.

    Unfortunately, Wolford suffered a scary injury after taking a hard hit near the end of the third quarter. He was placed on an immobilizing spine board and carted off the field.

    Thankfully, Wolford was moving his extremities and gave a thumbs up before departing.

    After Wolford left the game, the Buccaneers re-inserted Trask into the game. Mayfield, Trask, and Wolford are the only three quarterbacks on Tampa Bay’s roster.

    Todd Bowles and the Bucs’ decision-makers clearly had no interest in deploying Mayfield behind second and third-string offensive linemen in a meaningless preseason game.

    Actions speak louder than words — although Bowles said Friday that he didn’t “have a set time” to decide on the identity of his starting quarterback, he’s seemingly already made up his mind.

    Mayfield signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Buccaneers this offseason, setting up a competition with Trask for the right to succeed Tom Brady.

    The Browns traded Mayfield to the Panthers during the 2022 offseason, but the former No. 1 overall pick struggled across six starts in Carolina.

    After being cut by the Panthers in December, Mayfield joined the Rams via waivers. Two days after being claimed by Los Angeles, he led the Rams on a game-winning, 98-yard drive with fewer than two minutes remaining against the Raiders. In Week 16, Mayfield helped L.A. put up 51 points against the Broncos.

    “You definitely want to be in there with the ones the whole time,” Mayfield said this week. “But luckily, being in Tampa, the skill guys have to rotate all the time. So even if you’re with the No. 1 O-line, you might not have Mike (Evans) and Chris (Godwin). So you should make the most of your opportunities when it comes to routes on air.

    “But then that’s from a communication standpoint, it’s important even if I’m not in to make sure I’m hearing what they’re giving feedback to Kyle and even John and for everybody to be on the same page. … Everybody has got to be on the same page no matter who’s in. You want the same task-driven, task-oriented mind.”

    Mayfield completed eight of nine attempts for 63 yards and a touchdown before exiting Tampa Bay’s Week 1 preseason game against the Steelers.

    Trask went six-of-10 for 99 yards and an interception against Pittsburgh before going 20-of-28 for 218 yards and one score on Saturday night.

    Trask, the 64th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, has never started an NFL game. He’s only attempted nine career passes, all of which came against the Falcons in a meaningless 2022 Week 17 game after Trask followed Brady and former Bucs backup Blaine Gabbert into the game.

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