Buccaneers, Baker Mayfield Agree To Deal

Baker Mayfield will not reach free agency. The Buccaneers’ efforts to retain their starting quarterback have produced a lucrative new pact. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports the sides are finalizing a three-year, $100MM contract featuring $50MM guaranteed.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler adds this pact -which the team has since confirmed – could reach a maximum value of $115MM. Even if that does not take place, this new deal marks a massive raise for the former No. 1 pick in his bid to cash in following his successful debut Bucs campaign and find stability in the process. After playing in Tampa on a one-year, $4MM deal last year, Mayfield has certainly accomplished that goal.

Rapoport’s colleague Tom Pelissero notes Mayfield’s $30MM salary in 2024 is guaranteed in full. $10MM in 2025 is guaranteed at signing, meanwhile, and a further $10MM comes in the form of an injury guarantee which is set to vest next year. The 28-year-old will see $40MM in 2026, and he can earn $5MM in incentives every year of the pact, per Schefter.

Mayfield easily surpassed expectations after winning out a training camp competition with Kyle Trask in the summer. Mayfield posted career highs in passing yards (4,044) and touchdowns (28) last season. His play helped lead the team to another NFC South title and a run to the divisional round of the postseason. Aiming to retain several main elements of their core, the Buccaneers faced the challenge of keeping Mayfield, Mike Evans and Antoine Winfield Jr. in the fold.

Evans landed a two-year accord after being linked to a free agency endeavor. Winfield, meanwhile, has received the franchise tag and as such will either play out the 2024 season on the tag or agree to his own long-term deal. Mayfield will join that tandem for next year and beyond as he looks to prove his first performance in Tampa Bay was not a fluke.

The Browns’ Deshaun Watson acquisition facilitated Mayfield being traded to the Panthers in 2022. His time in Carolina was short-lived, however, and his struggles led to a release and a late-season cameo with the Rams. The Oklahoma product parlayed that into a flier from Tampa Bay under new offensive coordinator Dave Canales. The latter has since departed (to take over the Panthers as head coach), but Mayfield was involved in the search for Canales’ replacement. That pointed to the player-team relationship being extended, and sustained talks in recent days has brought an deal together.

General manager Jason Licht confirmed the Bucs’ intention of keeping Mayfield in the fold, which has at all times been the expected outcome of this situation. Mayfield’s asking price was pegged as approaching (or perhaps surpassing) $40MM per year, and the base value of the pact falls short at $33.3MM. Maximizing its value would create an AAV of $38.3MM, though, a figure which represents legitimate franchise passer compensation and by far the most lucrative deal of Mayfield’s career.

Of course, the ripple effect of today’s news will be felt around the league. Mayfield was projected to be the second-best quarterback on the market, behind only Kirk Cousins. Many teams which could be suitors for the latter were connected to the former as a backup plan, but attention will now shift even further to Cousins and Minnesota. A new Vikings deal could come to bear in the immediate future; failing that, however, teams such as the Falcons will be able to negotiate a Cousins pact knowing Mayfield is not an option.

Tampa Bay entered Sunday with less than $15MM in cap space, a figure which will be affected by the particulars of the Mayfield deal. The Bucs are not expected to be big players on the open market with respect to outside additions considering their financial situation. Retaining each member of the Mayfield-Evans-Winfield trio was atop the offseason priority list, though, and it has now been achieved. Mayfield’s ability to replicate his 2023 success will be a major talking point for the Buccaneers next season and beyond given the investment made in him by the team.

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