Bucs still have major work to do

by Gary Shelton on March 11, 2024

in general

Mayfield is richer, but is he better?/TIM WIRT

Monday, 4 a.m.

Today, he can buy a better car….or 12. He can buy a bigger mansion. Heck, he can even afford to supersize when he goes to McDonald’s.

But, no, Baker Mayfield is not a better quarterback than he was yesterday.

That’s the first lesson the NFL teaches you. That doubling, or tripling, or doing it a few more times, doesn’t make someone a better player. It just makes yoiu richer.

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So don’t assume the Tampa Bay Bucs bought improvement when they agreed to a new contract with Baker Mayfield. Granted, it was a move they had to make, because the alternatives were frightening.

But for the Bucs to get better, there is a lot more work to be done.

What they Bucs have done so far in this off-season was pay the best parts of their team. Mike Evans. Antonio Winfield. Mayfield. Again, that won’t make them better. It just makes them Bucs. The team still has a wretched running game, a horrible pass rush, a lousy offensive line and a woeful secondary. 

That said, it was a good start for general manger Jason Licht. You might hear otherwise in the case of Mayfield and even Evans, but that’s hooey.

Look, if any team knows the cost of letting stars walk away, it should be the Bucs. Once, they let Doug Williams walk, and it took decades to recover. Bo Jackson never came at all. The team gave Steve Young away, and Chris Chandler, and Vinny Testaverde, and Trent Dilfer. They watched them all in the playoffs.

I’ve said this before. Mayfield isn’t among the top handful of quarterbacks in the league. Maybe not the first two handfuls. But those guys all have jobs, you know? It wasn’t like Tampa Bay chose Mayfield over Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow or Lamar Jackson.

And maybe that’s the part of Mayfield that has left his critics dissatisfied. They expect too much of him.  Even in a year when he was very good, they want him to be great.

Think about it. Last year, Mayfield won 10 games (counting the playoffs) with the bad running game and bad offensive line and bad pass rush, and all the other flaws of this team. Simply put, there is no quarterback in the history of the NFL who would have won the Super Bowl with last year’s supporting cast of the Bucs.

Can Mayfield win the big one? Depends. Id he has a great defense, a reliable running game, great receivers, a terrifying pass rush, etc.  

And that’s what the takeaway to his signing needs to be. The Bucs have a lot of places they need to be better. They need to ask him to overcome fewer shortcomings.

At that point, maybe Mayfield turns out to be a bargain.

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