Should Bucs re-sign Mayfield as QB?

by Gary Shelton on December 21, 2023

in general

Mayfield has had his moments./TAMPA BAY BUCS

Thursday, 4 a.m.

He has been good. He has been bad.

He has been an answer. He has been questionable. 

He has been perfect. He has been flawed.

And so when you gaze upon Baker Mayfield, what do you see? Do you see uncommon value for the price, or do you see his limits? Do you see the MVP of these Bucs, or do you see something short of greatness?

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At 7-7, it is a question worth asking. Soon, the Bucs will have to make up their minds on Mayfield’s future. Is he worth a big-money contract? Or does the situation suggest they say thanks, but move on?

For Mayfield, it is a good time to address the issue. He is the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week, and he is coming off his first perfect quarterback rating (158.3) and his team has won three in a row. That said, he is a .500 quarterback  in a lousy division where fans still call out the name of his backup.

There are better quarterbacks. There are even more worse quarterbacks. Signing him could be a mistake. Not signing him could be a mistake.

Such is the riddle of Mayfield. He is better than you think. He might not be as good as you had hoped.

True, there are those who suggest he has had one good game. That’s baloney. He threw for 317 yards against the Bears. He had a 116.9 rating against the Saints. He gave his team the lead with 46 seconds left against Houston, which they promptly gave away while he was on the sideline. He rallied his team into a tie against Atlanta with 45 seconds left, only to see the defense collapse again. He has four games with better than a 100 rating, two more where he was better than 90.

Ah, but he hasn’t beaten anyone with a winning record. He had back-to-back games (the Panthers and Falcons) where he completed less than 50 percent. He’s had four games where he had less than a 77 passer rating, four where  he threw for fewer than 200 yards.

So, if you were the general manager, would you give him a long-term, rich-as-Midas contract?

Oh, the question would be easy if Mayfield wanted just a normal rich-as-Midas contract. He’s probably going to want an obscene figure for a ridiculous amount of time. So what do you do then? You’ve won your way out of a top draft pick. Do you trust your luck in free agency again? Or do you risk ending up with a lesser quarterback?

At the moment, I suggest the Glazers are playing wait-and-see. If Mayfield gets the Bucs into the playoffs, it’s going to be hard to justify not chasing him with a checkbook If he doesn’t, well, the Glazers have been tough graders in December before.

The bottom line, I suspect, is between the loudest voices. No, Mayfield isn’t a one-game wonder. He’s been better than that whether his critics want to admit it or not. But he isn’t Patrick Mahomes, either. He’s a reclamation project who paid off.

For the record, I like Mayfield. I think the Bucs have gotten more than they should reasonably expect out of him. 

But there needs to be a realistic view of Mayfield, too, of what he has and what he lacks. He’s gritty. He plays hard. He’s smart. 

But is he a quarterback you can see in the Super Bowl? Is he a potential MVP? Or is he a .500 quarterback who needs a little more help?

You may have your own answer to that. 

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