There is a new quarterback in town for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team has officially agreed to terms on a one year contract with Baker Mayfield, who played with the Carolina Panthers and the Los Angeles Rams last year. Mayfield will now get a chance to earn a starting job under new Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales.
It’s no sure thing that Mayfield will beat out Kyle Trask for the starting job. The two will have a chance to compete in training camp and one of these two will be the quarterback to follow up Tom Brady and lead the Bucs into their next age of football. If I had to guess right now, I would project that it will in fact be Mayfield to win this job.
This is because he seems to be the best fit in the Canales offense. We know that Canales is bringing the Sean McVay style offense with him, which he learned in Seattle under their offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. We got a chance to see Mayfield in this same type of offense when he spent time under McVay himself in Los Angeles.
Here’s what I like with this fit and why I believe Mayfield is the Buccaneers quarterback in 2023.
Despite just signing with the team, Mayfield already has more experience with this Canales offense. Having played under McVay last season, Mayfield will be familiar with a lot of the concepts and terminology that he will be learning in Tampa Bay. On the other hand, this will be Trak’s first time learning this type of offense, having spent his entire career in the Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich system.
It might not seem significant considering Mayfield spent less than half the year with the Rams, but it’s a head start on the rest of the team. As the quarterback these guys have to process a lot of information in terms of what is happening with the other players around him and what he needs to be looking for. Mayfield can help install this offense with some of the veterans who are learning it and build an instant trust and chemistry with them.
Additionally, Mayfield has more experience in the NFL. He was a starter for four seasons in Cleveland and even managed to win a playoff game with the Browns. Having experienced the speed of the NFL only puts Mayfield that much further ahead of Trask, who has been the third string quarterback his entire career.
Canales comes from Seattle’s offense where he had a chance to work with both Russell Wilson and Geno Smith. Both of these quarterbacks had their running abilities utilized in both designed runs and roll out pass plays. This is something that Mayfield can do as well.
While he isn’t the same caliber of athlete as Wilson or Smith, Mayfield can be utilized in a similar way. A sneaky good athlete, Mayfield ran for over 100 yards in each of his first four seasons. He has enough speed to keep defenses honest and occasionally gash them for big plays.
The same cannot be said for Trask. He ran a 5.08 40 yard dash at his combine workout and generally looks like he is running in mud. Comparatively, Mayfield brings a lot more to the table with his athletic ability and that makes him more versatile to the offense.
Canales is on record saying that he wants his quarterback to be more of a point guard. That’s to say he wants someone who will distribute the ball all over and just find the open man. It also means he doesn’t need his quarterback taking a lot of home run, high risk shots down field.
Mayfield has admittedly had turnover problems in his career. He has 64 interceptions in 69 starts over the course of his career. That’s a number that needs to come down moving forwards if he wants to stick as the Buccaneers quarterback.
However, there might be some hope that this will get better in this style of offense. In five games with the Rams last year, Mayfield only threw two interceptions. This isn’t a jaw droppingly impressive number by any means, but it’s better than the nearly one interception per game he threw outside of the McVay system.
In an offense like this that utilizes motion and high percentage throws it seems like Mayfield is better suited. He only threw for 170 yards per game with the Rams last year, but he had a depleted wide receiver group to work with. The Buccaneers will provide him with more weapons than he’s ever had in his career. It seems logical that this would equate to more production in a system that he has already looked improved in.