The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are frantically trying to avoid an all-out rebuild in the wake of Tom Brady’s second – and likely final – retirement. Following this retirement, the Buccaneers were left with few options; draft a quarterback late, sign a veteran bridge or stick with the unproven backup Kyle Trask.
While the Buccaneers may still go one of those three routes, their recent signing of former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield has added an interesting layer to their future plans.
Mayfield, once quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and more recently, the Los Angeles Rams, was once expected to be the answer to the Browns’ decades of terrible quarterback play.
While Mayfield eventually led the Browns deep into the playoffs (coming just short of a Super Bowl visit after a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs), he was traded to the Panthers a year later following a season filled with injury concerns and lackluster play.
In his short stint with the Panthers, Mayfield continued with said lackluster play, failing to put on a consistently starter-worthy performance, leading to his eventual release in mid-season 2022. The Rams then picked Mayfield up in the wake of a quarterback Mathew Stafford injury, prompting Mayfield to start for the team after less than a week of preparation.
Surprisingly enough, Mayfield exceeded expectations, throwing for over 200 yards and a touchdown en route to a 17-16 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Mayfield held onto the starting job throughout the remainder of the season, putting up over 800 passing yards and a 4-2 touchdown-interception ratio over the course of LA’s final five games.
“Riley Dixon, no-punt game. It’s his first of his career, he told me that too,” Mayfield said in a postgame press conference following a 51-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Christmas day of 2022. “There was a lot of special things today on Christmas.”
Mayfield finished with a 2-3 overall record through those five games, a record that was not convincing enough for the Rams to re-sign him in 2023, leading to his eventual entrance into the free agency market.
The Buccaneers, a team with a loaded offensive roster and an opening at the quarterback position, signed Mayfield following his departure from the Rams.
“It was important to me, to be in a place that’s stable, knows how to win, knows how to do it properly,” Mayfield said in his first press conference as a Buccaneer on March 20. “You know I’ve gotten to see different things, from my journey, that’s not exactly how you drew it up. But, it’s helped along the way, especially to make a decision like this. I wanna go somewhere where we can win right away, and this is that place.”
Mayfield will have to compete against Trask for the starting gig in Tampa, but all bets currently lay on the former first-overall draft pick to win the job.
If Mayfield secures the starting quarterback job, he’ll lead an offense of star-studded playmakers with the likes of All-Pro receiver Mike Evans, Pro owl receiver Chris Godwin and recent stardom running back Rachaad White.
“Any time you get to get to play with playmakers like that, it obviously makes your job easier,” Mayfield said. “They’re so experienced and they’ve seen a lot as well, so I’m so excited to get the chance to play with them.”