Tampa Bay Buccaneers star ‘extremely confident’ Baker Mayfield returns in NFL free agency

Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a widespread belief in recent weeks that Tampa Bay Buccaneers star quarterback Baker Mayfield would sign a long-term extension with the team ahead of the start of NFL free agency.

Right now, we’re not too sure. The legal tampering period for free agency opens on Monday, meaning that other teams can start negotiating with the former No. 1 pick. This puts Tampa Bay in a tricky position over the next few days after it opted against placing the franchise tag on Mayfield.

One current Buccaneers star seems to think that Mayfield will return to the team after a breakout 2023 campaign. During his press conference announcing a two-year extension with Tampa Bay, star wide receiver Mike Evans showed some confidence in Mayfield returning. He also provided a caveat.

“I’m extremely confident. I’m not 100 percent, but he played really great for us last year. The city took him in, the players loved him. Hopefully we get him back, but he should do what’s best for him,” Evans said about Mayfield.

Mayfield, 28, had been through the ringer since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Browns back in 2018. The quarterback played extremely well throughout his first three seasons before falling on hard times back in 2021 (17 TD, 13 INT).

He then split time between the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams in 2022 before latching on as Tom Brady’s replacement in Tampa Bay last year. Mayfield proceeded to turn in his best season.

  • Baker Mayfield stats (2023): 64.3% completion, 4,044 yards, 29 TD, 10 INT

This performance led to a surprise playoff appearance for the Buccaneers. It also created the belief that this was a marriage made in heaven.

Related: Ideal landing spots for Baker Mayfield in free agency

Baker Mayfield now likely to test NFL free agency

Baker Mayfield
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Evans’ confidence aside, it makes no real sense for Mayfield to sign an extension with Tampa Bay before the tampering period opens on Monday. Why not see what other teams have to offer? As Evans noted, “he should do what’s the best for him.”

Mayfield has been linked to the Washington Commanders, Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings, among other teams. All three are in obvious need of a quarterback.

As for the Buccaneers’ players and Mr. Evans, it’s clear that Mayfield earned their respect in his first season with the team.

“Me and Baker have a really good relationship. I think he’s an elite quarterback,” Evans said.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2024

Mentioned in this article:

More About: