I'll admit, when my Buccaneers signed Baker Mayfield to compete with 2021 2nd round draft pick, Kyle Trask for the starting QB job back in March, I was skeptical.
But it was clear in pre-season that he was on another level and he won me over with his play in August.
Then in Week 1 with live bullets, he showed some the craftiness that I've grown to love.
And he also showed that moxie that won over all his teammates in the summer.
And even while the Bucs were on a skid, losing 6 of 7, he never wavered. In fact, he played well enough to win in most of those games. I was even calling for him to be QB1 next year and beyond on November 23rd!
But after last week's performance in Green Bay where he had a perfect passer rating, the national buzz started to pick up on that storyline.
And as a guy who has watched the Bucs All-22 every week for the past nine seasons, the ball placement we've been seeing from our QB1 this year, reminds me of the guy I watched the past three years.
So what is the plan? The Buccaneers are currently sitting in 1st place in the NFC South with games against Jacksonville, New Orleans, and at Carolina to end the season. If they win any two of those three games, they are in the playoffs. So assuming the wheels don't completely fall off and they move forward with Baker Mayfield next year and beyond, what would a deal look like?
My guess would be pretty similar to Geno Smith's deal with the Seahawks. Based on how he's projecting to finish 2023 with similar stats and what is pacing for a playoff berth as well, I think that makes sense.
Here is what Geno's deal looked like last year:
They did frontload the deal with Geno getting $28M the first year, but it was only a fully guaranteed deal for one year. The second year was only a $12.7M guaranteed in case of injury, otherwise he could be released after one season with no dead cap. That is fair and protects Seattle based on the player's history of not playing at an elite level.
While I do have the upmost confidence in Baker Mayfield, my guess is a deal would be similar to that. I would like to see him back next year and he's certainly earned it. He's a young player at just 28 years old, so hopefully he's our Quarterback for many more years to come. But a deal like this would also position the Buccaneers to be flexible if things did go south while keeping Baker on a deal that wouldn't eat up too much of the salary cap that would prevent them from putting key pieces around him.
So hopefully the Buccaneers finish strong by winning the division, making the playoffs and making some noise in the dance. If that happens, I am firmly behind Baker Mayfield being a Buccaneer for next year and beyond.