Will Bucs pass the torch to Mayfield?

by Gary Shelton on March 14, 2023

in general

Mayfield has bounced around./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

It was never going to be a heart-warming image to see someone other than Tom Brady as the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Bucs.

But isn't it supposed to feel better than this?

After all, there is nothing to inspire hope like a new quarterback, a fresh set of potential with his new highlight images. Tampa Bay fans know this. For the life of a franchise, they've seen one disappointment after another, high-end talents and worn-out retreads, longshots and hopefuls, big-armed kids and weak-armed free agents.

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And now, do they turn to the used car named Baker Mayfield?


And really, that's the only proper reaction to an uninspired choice such as Mayfield, who has now left three teams in disappointment. No, Mayfield isn't the worst athlete ever to play quarterback in the NFL. But he isn't an answer, either. He isn't going to leave the rest of the NFC South muttering to themselves.

Granted, Mayfield's career got off to a decent start. He was in the top five of the Heisman Trophy voting in three straight years (and won it once). He was all-rookie with the Browns in his first year. He reached the playoffs in his third year.

But Mayfield seemed to have the wrong-guy, wrong place story down pat. The Browns have long since been a mess, and Mayfield was thrown away because the team lusted so badly for Deshaun Watson. He tore his labrum his last year there. Then he went to Carolina, and you guessed it, more mess. The Rams weren't a ball of fire, either.

All of which leaves Mayfield with a 31-38 record. Compared to Kyle Trask's nine career passes, it's at least competitive.

Oh, there isn't great alternatives. Derek Carr makes New Orleans the favorite to win the NFC South, but winning isn't something that Carr has ever done much. The Raiders aren't going to be wild about Jimmy Garoppolo, and the 49ers are going to giggle when they see Sam Darnold.

Oh, I'm not sure the Bucs are exactly all-in on Mayfield. That would fit the reports that say the Bucs are also negotiation with Jacoby Brissett. On this side of the draft, it's hard to believe the Bucs would try to sign two quarterbacks. So you wonder if they've offered both men a limited contract, and whoever jumps first gets the contract.

Look, Mayfield has had good games, and if he comes, there will be Sundays when he looks like a player. But his resume says those days won't come often enough.

You know what most Bucs' fans seem to be afraid of when it comes to Mayfield? They're afraid of mediocrity. He won't be good enough to reach the playoffs, but he won't be bad enough to secure a top three draft pick. I hear from a lot of Bucs' fans who are braced for a terrible year, but they don't want a spin-their-wheels, six-win season.

That's where you might be with Mayfield. He isn't terrible, but is he the answer?

And if so, what is the question?

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