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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2024 State of the Bucs: Quarterbacks 

Taking a position-by-position breakdown as the Buccaneers head into the 2024 season, starting with quarterbacks


Position Group: Quarterback

Players: Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask, John Wolford

(Mayfield is set to become a free agent)

2023 Evaluation: In 2023, NFL journeyman Baker Mayfield guided the Buccaneers to their third-straight division title and an appearance in the Divisional Round. The Buccaneers joined Buffalo and Kansas City as the only three teams in the NFL to make the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, and Tampa Bay made it to at least the Divisional Round in three of those four years. Tampa Bay won six of their last seven games in the regular season to lock up the NFC South, exceeding the parameters placed on the team by external media. Mayfield, the first walk-on to win the Heisman Trophy and a former first-overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, spent the offseason in a battle for the starting signal-caller duties in Tampa Bay with Kyle Trask. Mayfield won the job and defied the odds down the stretch. He concluded the year with career-highs in games started (17), completion percentage (64.3%), passing yards (4,044), and touchdown passes (28).

Mayfield's final passer rating for the 2023 playoffs was 106.3, based on a 62.3% completion rate, 8.9 yards per attempt and 6-2 touchdown-interception ratio. That is the highest passer rating by any quarterback with at least 25 attempts in Bucs' postseason history. His yards per attempt (8.9) and touchdown percentage (7.8%) are also new team postseason records. The Bucs' passing attack did not put up the gaudy passing stats in 2023 that it did during the previous three years, where a Tom Brady-led aerial juggernaut averaged 4,814 yards and 37 touchdowns per season, but it was productive with Mayfield at the helm. Among qualified passers this season heading into the Divisional Round matchup, Mayfield ranked sixth in EPA per dropback behind only Brock Purdy, Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, at 0.12.

Throughout the 2023 season, Mayfield showcased his poise, movement in the pocket, anticipation to drive the ball down the field and surgical precision against zone coverage. Against Green Bay in Week 15, Mayfield posted a perfect 158.3 QBR by threading the needle. He carved up the Packers' defense by attacking the seams with leverage, taking advantage of the voids in their defensive structure. Mayfield navigated the rush to perfection by climbing in the pocket and had precise ball location off a wide base. His grit and high-effort play on the field rallied the Bucs' offense in 2023 and opened up Dave Canales' playbook.

Kyle Trask spent the entire season as Mayfield's primary backup, getting three snaps in 2023. He threw one pass and made one handoff against the Indianapolis Colts when Mayfield exited with an injury concern. In addition, Trask kneeled the ball down against the Tennessee Titans. John Wolford, the team's third string quarterback, was on the team's practice squad for the first seven games of the season and was on the inactive list for every game following.

2024 Outlook: One of the most glaring questions for the offseason surrounding the Buccaneers is who will be the starting quarterback in 2024? Mayfield signed a bargain one-year deal with Tampa Bay last offseason and proved his value as a franchise quarterback with poise and accuracy down the stretch. He silenced the doubters and is set to become a free agent in March. In his final press conference, Mayfield fielded questions about a potential return to the Bucs.

"I love this group," said Mayfield. "I've said that all year and it's authentic. It would mean a lot to me, to bring back a lot of key pieces, to get this back together, to get into Year Two in the system. I feel like we could make huge strides. I would love that. Obviously, we'll see how it's going to play out, but I can't say enough about this organization and the opportunity they have me this year."

Head Coach Todd Bowles spoke highly of Mayfield following the 2023 season when asked how much of a hot commodity the Oklahoma product would command on the open market.

"I'm pretty sure he'd be in demand," cited Bowles." I don't know to what aspect he would be in demand. Obviously, money plays a lot of part of free agency and loyalty plays a lot of part in free agency, and who actually wants you and where you can go and what you can afford plays a lot, and how you see yourself in certain systems. It'll be a tricky thing. He was great here; we love him to death. Hopefully it works out for us."

If Mayfield does hit the open market, there are several avenues the Bucs could take to find a replacement: Build through the draft by selecting a rookie passer, bring in an experienced veteran, or seek a trade for an established starter. All these questions will be answered in the coming months as the endless chatter/speculation across NFL platforms commences.

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