The Tampa Buccaneers have reportedly signed Baker Mayfield to a one-year $8.5 million contract with $4.5 million guaranteed. He’ll likely compete with Kyle Trask to be the starting quarterback as Tampa sets themselves up for an early pick in 2024.
The Cleveland Browns selected Mayfield No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft but eventually soured on him after an injury-plagued 2021 season. They traded him to the Carolina Panthers, a move that facilitated Matt Rhule’s firing and eventually led to the blockbuster that sent D.J. Moore to Chicago. After being released by the Panthers, Mayfield ended up in Los Angeles, a team with a terrible offensive line and skill positions that had been decimated by injury.
These were not exactly plus environments.
Mayfield is a small quarterback with an inaccurate arm who turns pressure into sacks at a high rate. If that sounds like a recipe for inefficiency, you’d be right. Only a small handful of QBs have been able to generate as many negative passing fantasy points over expectation (paFPOE) as Mayfield has in the last four years.
Can Mayfield resurrect his career in Tampa? New offensive coordinator Dave Canales at least appears to have a modern take on NFL football.
“Anytime you reduce football to just being mano-y-mano ball, it’s just not smart football. Anything you can do to get a matchup, an advantageous matchup or to move to gain access, we’ll do those things. Do whatever it takes to win and above all, take care of the ball. Having that balance is critical and it’s not about establishing the run, it’s about establishing an attacking offense that makes you have to defend the run but also defend the pass. Then that’s when you become dangerous.”
The Buccaneers have the weapons to be dangerous if Mayfield can re-conjure the magic from late 2020. Of course, even Mayfield skeptics might be excused for not realizing just how awful he’s been in the interim.