Mayfield loomed as an option for the Bucs, who were not linked to being big spenders at quarterback this offseason. The sides are set to agree on a one-year deal worth $8.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. That looks to be the max value here, with Albert Breer of SI.com adding the base value will come in at $4MM (Twitter link).
This will provide Mayfield with another bounce-back opportunity and give the Bucs a veteran option to potentially succeed Tom Brady. While the Bucs are planning to give former second-round pick Kyle Trask a chance to win the starting job, Mayfield (69 starts) obviously laps the third-year passer in experience. Though, Mayfield has seen his stock dip dramatically since he was connected to a lucrative Browns extension in 2021.
Tampa will be Mayfield’s fourth home since July 2022. The Browns traded their four-year starter, after a drawn-out negotiation, to the Panthers last July. Proving a bad fit in Carolina, Mayfield ended up with the Rams to close out his fifth-year option season. Following an injury-plagued 2021 and an uneven Charlotte stay, Mayfield showed signs of life in Los Angeles. The Bucs will provide another opportunity for the 2017 Heisman winner.
Even as he did provide a spark to a depleted Rams offense down the stretch, Mayfield still finished last season with a league-worst 24.5 QBR figure. In Carolina, the 6-foot quarterback completed just 57.8% of his passes — at 6.4 yards per toss — and ended up benched for a Panthers team that started three QBs last year. Sam Darnold, who has since committed to the 49ers, ended up outplaying Mayfield in Carolina, despite the latter having won the training camp competition.
The Panthers waived Mayfield in December, and the Rams turned to the 27-year-old passer immediately after acquiring him. Two days after making the waiver claim, the Rams threw Mayfield into action early during a Thursday-night Raiders matchup. Mayfield struggled with his new team early in that game but reeled off one of the most shocking comebacks in recent NFL history, guiding his new team on a 98-yard game-winning drive — despite the Rams playing with a patchwork offensive line and without Cooper Kupp or Allen Robinson. Mayfield finished his Rams run, which also included a 24-for-28 showing against an upper-echelon Broncos defense, with a 63.6% completion rate and a passer rating well north of his Panthers sample.
Trask has made one career appearance — a Week 18 cameo in Atlanta — but has drawn praise from some Bucs players. He will be thrust into a competition with Mayfield, who is taking a steep pay cut from a fifth-year option salary he already reduced (to $15.4MM) to facilitate a trade out of Cleveland. The outspoken QB led the Browns to their first playoff berth in 18 years two seasons ago, coming back from a disastrous sophomore season under Freddie Kitchens. Mayfield ranked 10th in QBR in 2020 under Kevin Stefanski, throwing 26 TD passes compared to eight INTs, but he is far removed from that productive campaign.
The Bucs will see if new OC Dave Canales can harness some of what Stefanski did three seasons ago. The sixth-year veteran would seem to match up better with a Bucs team still housing several starters from Super Bowl LV. But after Mayfield’s struggles in his 2022 platform season led to a mediocre market, another uninspiring slate will likely take him off the QB1 radar for the foreseeable future.