Bucs GM Jason Licht On Baker Mayfield, Other FA Plans

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht recently updated reporters, including Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, on a number of free agency-related topics. One of the key takeaways from Licht’s comments is his confirmation that the Bucs will not be active players in the market, though they will of course try to retain some of their own FAs.

The team started that process when it agreed to a new contract with star wideout Mike Evans. Crossing that item off the list may help the club re-sign quarterback Baker Mayfield, both because it allows Licht & Co. to focus their efforts almost entirely on Mayfield at this point and because keeping Evans in the fold makes Tampa Bay a more attractive destination for 2018’s No. 1 overall pick. That said, Licht was not exactly adamant that a deal would get done.

“I see a link between [Evans and Mayfield], because they like each other, they played well with each other,” Licht said. “But once again, it doesn’t make it automatic. I’m not taking anybody for granted here, so it’s a good start. It’s a good player to throw to. Who wouldn’t want to throw to [Evans]? But Baker is going to make the decision for him, for himself.”

Licht went on to say that he has contingency plans in case Mayfield does not return, one of which could feature Kyle Trask. The 2021 second-rounder has backed up both Tom Brady and Mayfield in Tampa but has thrown a grand total of 10 regular season passes in his three-year career.

“You always have to have — as [former Bucs head coach] Bruce [Arians] would say — to look behind Door 2 and 3 and 4 and 5,” Licht said. “So, yeah, we always feel like we need options. Yeah, we always have to have plans. We also like Door No. 2 that’s right here (meaning Trask).”

Sources from multiple teams have told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (subscription required) that they expect Mayfield and the Bucs to eventually come to terms on a three- or four-year accord. However, the fact that a deal has not yet been consummated is an indication to Fowler’s colleague, Dan Graziano, that Mayfield realizes the Bucs are not the only team interested in meeting his asking price (which is believed to be $40MM or more per year). Tampa Bay may ultimately pull the trigger, but given the amount of money ownership paid Brady — nearly $100MM over three years — and the fact that the team will need to hand LT Tristan Wirfs a top-of-the-market contract at some point, there are clear budgetary issues at play. The Falcons and Patriots loom as potential Mayfield suitors, and Graziano confirms that Atlanta would indeed be interested if Kirk Cousins chooses to remain in Minnesota.

Speaking of Wirfs, Licht implied that the three-time Pro Bowler’s contract is not a top agenda item at the moment (which makes sense, since Wirfs is under club control through 2024 by virture of the fifth-year option of his rookie deal and can be retained via the franchise tag after that). The GM did say, though, that he has had preliminary talks with Wirfs’ camp.

“For sure, we’ve already had some discussions there,” Licht said. “It’s not that Tristan is not a priority, because he’s one of our best players as well. It’s just something from a time standpoint. He’s already under contract, so we’ve had some beginning discussions with his agent.”

As for linebacker Lavonte David, who recently indicated that he would either re-sign with the Bucs or retire, Licht said, “Once again, we’ve been having good conversations. We know Lavonte wants to be a Buccaneer, and we want Lavonte to be a Buccaneer, so that’s usually a pretty good start.”

Although cornerback Carlton Davis is not eligible for free agency — his contract is up at the end of the 2024 campaign — he is due to count $20.37MM against the Bucs’ cap sheet this year. In a subscribers-only piece published by the Fowler-Graziano tandem last week, Davis was identified as a trade candidate.

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