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2024 Buccaneers Free Agent Focus: Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield revived his career in Tampa in 2023 and now has a chance to test free agency again…Our 10-part series on potential Bucs free agents in 2024 starts at the most important position in football


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are approaching the 2024 free agency period with 18 who potentially could hit the unrestricted market, which is a somewhat smaller list than what they had in the last two offseasons but still matter of much importance. One of those 18 is quarterback Baker Mayfield, who demonstrated in 2023 that he still possesses the talent that made him the first-overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Mayfield's market, should he actually become an unrestricted free agent again in March, figures to be quite a bit more robust than it was a year ago, when he was coming off a season split between the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams. It seems likely that the Buccaneers will be interested in trying to extend their relationship with him following his strong showing in 2023, and Mayfield has repeatedly mentioned his fondness for the organization.

Mayfield is a headliner on the Buccaneers' list of potential unrestricted free agents, of course. That list includes a number of starters and core players on a team that just won its third straight division title. There are seasoned veterans like Lavonte David on the list, as well as players like Antoine Winfield Jr. who are approaching free agency for the first time in their careers. Each one represents an important decision the Bucs must make in the coming weeks…though those decisions won't be entirely up to them.

The Bucs won't be able to keep all 18 of those potential free agents, but they will set their priorities and do their best to keep as much proven talent in the building as possible. And so, in the weeks leading up to the start of the new league year, we are going to look at 10 players who are currently poised to become unrestricted free agents in mid-March. This is the full schedule of our 2024 Free Agent Focus rundown:

  • February 14: QB Baker Mayfield
  • February 16: S Antoine Winfield Jr.
  • February 21: RB Chase Edmonds
  • February 23: K Chase McLaughlin
  • February 28: WR Mike Evans
  • March 1: DL Will Gholston
  • March 5: G Aaron Stinnie
  • March 6: LB Devin White
  • March 7: WR David Moore
  • March 8: LB Lavonte David

This list is subject to change based on potential roster moves in the coming weeks. However, we will begin at the most important position in the game and huge decision that Baker Mayfield and the Bucs have looming in the near future.

Player: Baker Mayfield

Position: Quarterback

Age at the Start of the 2024 Season: 29

Experience: Entering seventh NFL season

How Acquired: Signed as an unrestricted free agent, formerly of the Los Angeles Rams, to a one-year deal on March 16, 2023.

Previous Contract(s): The first-overall pick in the 2018 draft by the Cleveland Browns, Mayfield signed the standard four-year rookie contract with the team-option fifth-year attached to all deals for first-rounders. The Browns exercised that fifth-year option on April 23, 2021, and it was that fifth year of the deal he was set to play on when he was traded to the Carolina Panthers in July of 2022. However, the Panthers and Mayfield worked out a restructured contract a day before the trade to reduce what the Panthers would owe him. The Rams inherited that restructured final year when they claimed him off waivers from the Panthers in December of 2022.

Rank in Pro Football Focus Top 150 NFL Free Agents for 2023: 75th. PFF comment: "Mayfield made the most of his starting opportunity with the Buccaneers and at least left the door open to be involved in future training camp battles for starting jobs. He has brought his pressure-to-sack rate way down to 18.3% during the regular season, well below his rate over the past two seasons. The former No. 1 overall pick kept his eyes downfield amid pressure and made more plays outside of structure than normal, with a heavy dose of RPO and play-action concepts from new offensive coordinator Dave Canales moving the pocket and simplifying his progressions."

2023 Performance: If Mayfield's one-year contract with the Buccaneers was a "prove-it" deal after a meandering and unsatisfying 2022, he most definitely proved it. Mayfield set career highs in passing yards (4,044) and touchdown passes (28) and finished with a passer rating of 94.6. He threw only 10 interceptions in the regular season and, most importantly, led the Buccaneers to a third straight NFC South title, heavily defying outside expectations for the team in 2023.

Mayfield threw at least one touchdown in 17 of his 19 games, playoffs included, and only had one game in which he threw more interceptions that touchdowns (one and zero against Detroit in Week Six). He was one of only two quarterbacks in the NFL, along with the Cowboys' Dak Prescott, to throw at least 28 interceptions while being intercepted 10 or fewer times. In the playoffs, Mayfield became the first Tampa Bay quarterback ever to surpass 300 passing yards and throw for three scores in a Wild Card win over Philadelphia, then pulled off the same feat a week later in Detroit.

For his efforts, Mayfield was selected for the Pro Bowl roster for the first time in his career. He was also named the NFL's Most Improved Player by the Pro Football Writers Association and was a finalist for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award. He also quickly captured the Buccaneers' locker room and became a natural leader, and he was voted a team captain in his first year with the squad.

Career Accomplishments: Mayfield has played six NFL seasons since being that first-overall pick in 2018, the first four with the Browns, the most recent one in Tampa and the 2022 season split between the Panthers and Rams. He has started 86 of the 89 games in which he has played in the regular season, completing 1,780 of 2,825 pass attempts for 20,332 yards, 130 touchdowns, 74 interceptions and an 88.1 passer rating.

In addition to last season, Baker's other peak season was 2020, his third year with the Browns. In that one he led Cleveland to an 11-5 record, a playoff berth and a postseason win over the Steelers. He threw for 2,563 yards and 26 touchdowns against eight interceptions for a 95.9 passer rating. In four playoff games, two each with the Browns and Bucs, he has compiled a 100.4 passer rating, averaging 288.3 passing yards per game and throwing 10 touchdowns to three interceptions.

Other Potential Free Agent Quarterbacks: Kirk Cousins (Vikings), Ryan Tannehill (Titans), Gardner Minshew (Colts), Jacoby Brissett (Commanders), Jameis Winston (Saints), Tyrod Taylor (Giants), Sam Darnold (49ers), Tyler Huntley (Ravens), Josh Dobbs (Vikings), Blaine Gabbert (Chiefs), Carson Wentz (Rams), Jake Browning (Bengals)

Top Quarterback Prospects in 2024 NFL Draft: Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Michael Penix (Washington), Bo Nix (Oregon), J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), Michael Pratt (Tulane), Jordan Travis (Florida State), Quinn Ewers (Texas), Shedeur Sanders (Colorado), Spencer Rattler (South Carolina)

Take a look at some of the best photos of the Buccaneers' offense from the 2023 season.

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