Bucs Preparing for Potential Baker Mayfield Departure

Mayfield's impactful year highlights Bucs' playoff journey challenges.

by Nouman Rasool
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Bucs Preparing for Potential Baker Mayfield Departure
© Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at a pivotal juncture with quarterback Baker Mayfield set to explore the open market come Monday. General Manager Jason Licht, faced with the complexities of free agency, is bracing for all possible outcomes.

Mayfield, who took the reins of the Buccaneers' offense in 2023, led a resurgence under the guidance of Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales. His efforts propelled the team to snatch the NFC South title and secure a victory in the wild-card playoff against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Amidst these triumphs, Licht finds himself navigating through a challenging off-season, stretched thin by a plethora of free agents and financial constraints. This strain comes in the wake of utilizing the franchise tag on safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

and finalizing a lucrative two-year contract with key player Mike Evans.

Mayfield's Stellar Season

The 2023 season saw Mayfield achieve remarkable feats, throwing for 4,044 yards, 28 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions.

His playoff performance was notably impressive, with Mayfield showcasing his prowess in critical games, yet the Buccaneers' journey was halted in the divisional playoff round with a defeat against Detroit. Despite the financial tightrope, Licht maintains a hopeful stance on retaining Mayfield, highlighting the need for a backup plan.

"As Bruce (Arians) would often say, we must explore all options," Licht remarked, emphasizing the strategic approach to navigating the free agency landscape. Mayfield's journey through the NFL has been dynamic, with stints at the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, and Los Angeles Rams, before his impactful season with the Buccaneers.

With negotiations ongoing with linebacker Lavonte David, another key free agent, the Buccaneers' off-season strategy is in full swing. Mike Evans, who recently committed his future to the Buccaneers through a $52 million deal extending to 2025, voiced his support for Mayfield.

"I believe he's an elite quarterback," Evans stated, expressing hope for Mayfield's return in 2024. "The team has embraced him, and the city has welcomed him. It's in everyone's best interest that he remains a Buccaneer, but ultimately, the decision is his to make." As the Buccaneers and their fans await Mayfield's decision, the anticipation builds on whether the successful collaboration will continue or if Tampa Bay will need to pivot in a new direction.

Baker Mayfield
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