It takes at least two players to have a battle for a starting job, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now officially have a quarterback competition.
On Thursday, Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht confirmed that the team has agreed to terms with sixth-year quarterback Baker Mayfield on a one-year contract, marking its first addition of a player from another team since the start of free agency. Mayfield joins third-year man Kyle Trask as the only two quarterbacks currently under contract with the Buccaneers for the 2023 season. Both will seek to replace Tom Brady, who retired on February 1 after leading Tampa Bay to three straight playoff appearances and a victory in Super Bowl LV.
"We've always, all of us in the front office and the coaches as well ... we've seen a fiery competitor, very confident, smart, he's got a very good arm," said Licht of Mayfield. "He's had a lot of success. He took Cleveland to the playoffs for the [second] time since '94, when Coach [Bill] Belichick was coaching. That says something. We're excited to add him to the fray and it's going to be a great competition. It's going to be, since I've been here, really the real first legit QB competition in training camp, which will be a lot of fun to watch. It's going to make both of them better. I feel very confident about what [Offensive Coordinator] Dave [Canales] is going to do with the offense and with these quarterbacks. Very exciting."
Mayfield was the first-overall pick in the 2018 draft by the Cleveland Browns. He most recently split the 2022 season between Carolina and Los Angeles, starting the Rams last four games. Just three days after being claimed off waivers by the Rams he was thrust into action when John Wolford suffered a neck injury in the first quarter against Las Vegas, and he threw for 230 yards and a touchdown in a 17-16 L.A. victory. Two weeks later, Mayfield threw for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and a 51-14 rout of the Denver Broncos.
Mayfield started four seasons for the Browns before being traded to the Panthers following Cleveland's acquisition of DeShaun Watson. He played in 30 games with 29 starts for Cleveland, averaging 235.4 passing yards per game and tossing 92 touchdowns against 56 interceptions. In 2020, he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and their first playoff appearance in 18 years, compiling a career-best 95.9 passer rating. Mayfield completed 62.8% of his passes that season for 3,563 yards, with a stellar 26-8 touchdown-interception ratio. He was also second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year balloting in 2018 after throwing for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions.
After being traded to the Panthers, Mayfield won a training camp battle with Sam Darnold for the starting job and opened the first five contests before being sidelined by an ankle injury. He made one more start in November before being waived and claimed by the Rams.
In all, Mayfield has played in 72 games with 69 starts and has thrown for 16,288 yards, 102 touchdowns and 64 interceptions, compiling a career passer rating of 86.5. He has completed 61.4% of his passes (1,386 of 2,259) and has engineered seven game-winning drives and six fourth-quarter comeback victories. He also rushed for 660 yards and six touchdowns.
The Buccaneers are certain to add at least one more quarterback through free agency or the draft, but at the moment the job appears to be up for grabs between Mayfield and Trask. The Buccaneers drafted Trask in the second round in 2021 but he has seen action in just one game with nine passes thrown as the team followed Brady to consecutive NFC South titles. In six preseason games he has completed 72 of 122 passes for 769 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
View the top photos of new Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield.
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