Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Quarterback Baker Mayfield Have "Mutual Interest" in Return

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baker Mayfield want to keep a good thing going. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Bucs and the former first-overall pick have "mutual interest" in a new contract.

Mayfield joined the Bucs last offseason on a bargain-basement one-year, $4 million deal after flaming out with the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams in 2022. Shockingly, he started all 17 games and delivered a career season, setting personal bests in passing yards (4044) and passing touchdowns (28). The Bucs finished with a 9-8 record, winning the NFC South on tiebreakers, and even managed a dominant 32-9 Wildcard Round win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

As Rapoport notes, the Bucs recently applied the franchise tag to safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and have already managed to re-sign wider receiver Mike Evans, so retaining Mayfield would be a significant step towards maintaining last year's momentum. 

However, the Bucs need to be mindful not to overextend themselves by buying high on a player of Mayfield's caliber. As feel-good as last season was, the Bucs were not a spectacular offense: they ranked 20th in points scored and 23rd in yards gained. Paying Mayfield substantially more than what he made last year isn't a recipe for improving on what was ultimately only a modestly successful season. Inevitably, every extra dollar spent on him is a dollar that can no longer be allocated to the rest of the roster.

Still, Mayfield has at least earned the right to prove last year was no fluke, so that would make a pay bump on a short-term deal a good idea for both parties. Something like the three-year, $75 million deal Geno Smith signed with Seattle Seahawks last offseason after a similarly surprising playoff run would be a sensible place to start.

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