Tampa Bay Buccaneers now likely to face competition for Baker Mayfield from 3 NFL teams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

At the start of the NFL offseason, the expectation around the league was for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to re-sign quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Mike Evans. With NFL free agency nearing, the Buccaneers could reportedly be in danger of losing both.

Mayfield and Evans played instrumental roles in Tampa Bay exceeding expectations in 2023. The Buccaneers won the NFC South thanks to Pro Bowl seasons from both players. However, Evans and Mayfield also played on expiring contracts and were poised to cash in on their strong seasons.

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  • Baker Mayfield stats 2023: 4,044 passing yards, 7.1 yards per attempt, 28-10 TD-INT, 64.3% completion rate, 94.6 QB rating

Still, most around the NFL presumed Mayfield and Evans would return to Tampa Bay in 2024. Viewed as a potential package deal, the Buccaneers would likely place the franchise tag on All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and re-sign Mayfield and Evans to long-term deals.

However, with NFL free agency on March 11 closing in, Mayfield is unsigned. As the Pro Bowl wideout hints at his interest in playing for an elite quarterback on a Super Bowl contender, there also appears to be a strong market emerging for Mayfield.

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ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler reported from the NFL Combine that the New England Patriots brain trust is high on Mayfield and the Atlanta Falcons are also an option to sign him. In addition to Atlanta and New England, it reportedly “wouldn’t be a shock” around the NFL if the Minnesota Vikings get involved in the event Kirk Cousins leaves.

Fortunately for Tampa Bay, the expectation remains that Cousins will either sign with the Falcons or Vikings. If that comes to fruition, then it would become a three-team race for Mayfield between the Buccaneers, Patriots and either the Vikings or Falcons.

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Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, there is a ripple effect from the added competition for Mayfield. It leaves Tampa Bay with more uncertainty at quarterback and more competitors mean Mayfield’s asking price will increase because of a bidding war.

It puts the Buccaneers in a perilous position at quarterback, which might explain why they met with several of the top passing prospects at the NFL Combine. If Mayfield leaves, Tampa Bay will have to reconsider its quarterback options and its plans for the 2024 season.

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