What if the Bucs don’t sign Mayfield?

by Gary Shelton on March 9, 2024

in general

Is there a plan aside from Mayfield?/TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Any minute now, he signs.

Any second, any heartbeat, and Baker Mayfield signs for scads of money. Then he will pose and grin and tell you that it wasn’t about the money at all. He will tell you he always wanted to be in…where was it…oh, yeah. Tampa Bay. That’s where he wanted to be all along.

Any moment now, he will grip, and he will grin, and he will talk about better days. Any instant, he will grin as he realizes that his gamble paid off. Any time now, he will swear he wants to be a Buc for life.

But what if he doesn’t?

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Like you, I would have figured the Bucs and Mayfield would have re-married by now. You can argue what he is and what he is not, or you can argue about what the Bucs are or are not. But the math is that they were good for each other last year, and they have a chance to be good for each other this year.

But what if they aren’t?

The longer this union takes, the more obvious it is that the Bucs need a Plan B. Just in case Mayfield wants ridiculous money times three. Just in case the team blanches at offering him a blank check. Just in case the sides figure they are one-and-done.

Surely, Jason Licht has to have given some thought to this. What if Mayfield, in the end, is unsignable. What if he runs off to be a Raider or a Falcon or a Viking or whatever for the really big payday? What then?

After all, it is obvious that the Bucs are willing to pay Mayfield a lot of money. But what if his asking price is on he other side of silly? Surely, there has to be a line where he simply costs too much. Right?

So what do the Bucs do then. And, no, Tom Brady isn’t coming back.

  1. Kyle Trask. Of course, a bunch of very stubborn fans will be glad to get Mayfield out of the way so Trask can go out and win a bunch of MVPs on his way to the Hall of Fame. It is unclear what Trask has done to win such loyalty — whether it is his 10 career passes of three career completions — but there are those who cling to the belief that Trask will be a star just as soon as the mean old Bucs allow it.

The truth of it is that no one has any idea what Trask can do, but professional coaches — who chart every one of his throws — have never put getting him playing time high on the priority list. Put it this way: If you were Todd Bowles or Jason Licht, would you put your career in Trask’s hands? Me? I’d still try to upgrade.

2) Justin Fields. Fields. Fields won just five games for the Bears last year, and in only one of them (a loss to Denver) did he play lights-out. But he’s started 38 games as a pro, and he’s just 26. Besides what they write in Chicago, Fields could be had for a song (even a bad one). A third round pick, maybe one that upgrades to a second, would probably do it. No one is beating down the door of a guy who is a better runner than a passer. Me? I’d pass.

3. Russell Wilson. It didn’t take Sean Payton long to decide that, for the price, Wilson made for a fine scapegoat. And, yeah, Wilson was making way too much money. But in 15 games, Wilson had eight with a rating of more than 100 last year. He’s not the guy he was in Seattle, but he’s okay as a stop-gap guy at the right price. Still… Me? No thanks.

4.  Kurt Cousins. Like Wilson, Cousins in 35, and he missed the last nine games of last season. That makes you wonder how much pounding he can make. Me? I’d interview others.

5. Michael Penix. This is an interesting name. Penix seems to be falling, and Bruce Arians has already expressed his love. The Bucs could pick Penix and have let him compete with Trask. Still, the Bucs might have to trade up. Would they do that? Me? I’d consider it.

6. Start the musical chairs. There aren’t many great quarterbacks, but there are a few decent ones. Jacoby Brissett. Gardner Minchew. Yes, Jameis Winston. Any one of those guys should get you two, three wins.

And that’s the problem. Mayfield’s agent can see the same thing you do. There aren’t many fallback plans that make sense. 

Look, I consider myself in the realistic camp when it comes to Mayfield. I don’t think he’s in the top teir of quarterbacks, but I think he’s okay. He can keep this season interesting, even for a team that has no running game, no pass rush and lousy coverage skills.

Yeah, it’s going to cost more than it should.

But what else are you gonna do?

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