Buccaneers’ fans can be fickle creatures. One week they are loudly cheering the team and saying we can win the Super Bowl. The next, they are prepared to fire actual cannons onto the field and burn it all down. I am of course not above that and have been swept up into the fervor.
However, I have tried to be level-headed about the Bucs the whole time. It is this that has led me to proclaim that Baker Mayfield still deserves an extension here. Many would disagree with me after last Sunday, but he has played far more games then that.
To get this out of the way, by an extension, I do not mean sign him to the next Deshaun Watson contract. I am talking more in terms of Geno Smith. Baker has played well, far above his $4 million price tag, but he is not Patrick Mahomes. This seems to be where a lot of people are getting hung up when I say he deserves a new contract. it is possible to sign Baker to an extension and for it to not hamstring the team. Geno Smith’s contract is the perfect blue print for the deal that Baker deserves. Geno got a 3 year-75 million with an out after 2024.
I can see Baker getting a deal that is somewhere along these lines. Though people may forget, he is currently tied for 4th in the league in passing TDs (28), has the 8th most passing yards (3907), and only has 10 interceptions, less than QBs like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Trevor Lawrence. The year that Geno Smith got that deal, he had over 4200 yards, 30 TDs, and 11 interceptions. Those are numbers that Baker can easily match or surpass (hopefully not for picks). And so, to get a similar contract to Geno seems more than fair to me.
However, the biggest reason that I want Mayfield back is the lack of options. To draft a new QB that can start immediately, it would require the Buccaneers to trade up and sacrifice multiple picks. I’m not convinced this roster at the moment is a QB away from a playoff run. There are a lot of holes here, so to give up picks means the Buccaneers will be unable to fill those holes with young talent. And if they re-sign guys like Antoine Winfield, Tristan Wirfs, Mike Evans, and Lavonte David, it becomes even more difficult to sign good FAs, which also applies to other QBs. I know everybody loves Michael Penix, but I do not want to just throw him onto the field his first year.
Many QBs have been ruined because they were just chucked onto the field with a terrible roster and basically were told to make magic. In recent memory, you can look at a guy like Justin Fields who looked awful his first year coming in for Andy Dalton. Hell, everyone thought the Bengals killed Joe Burrow when they sacrificed him to one of the worst o-lines ever. Yes, there are definitely some QBs that can succeed immediately (most recently CJ Stroud), but letting a guy develop is far more important.
Look at what the Packers have done for years. Aaron Rodgers sat for 3 years behind one of the best QBs and scam artists, and he became one of the best. Look at Jordan Love now. He sat for 3 years behind one of the best QBs and astrology gurus, and he looks like a star already. To be able to draft a guy like Penix while still having a viable starter in Baker is a great thing. Let Penix or whoever the Bucs draft sit and learn the game and make sure he is ready.
At the end of the day, Jason Licht has proven to be able to find good value and get good players for even better deals. Assuming Baker doesn’t pull a Carson Wentz and bomb the last game, he will probably be back next year. It will be for a cheaper deal that will likely allow the Buccaneers to have an out within a year or 2 if things go bad. If they go down this path, it is likely a new QB will also join the team via the draft.
This is a good thing in my humble opinion. Yes, Baker Mayfield has many flaws. His passes are too often deflected at the LOS, he double clutches the ball a lot, he hangs in the pocket too long. But he has done plenty right. He has come through in the clutch several times for the team. The players love the guy’s energy, you can see it when they are around him. A couple bad games should not mean he is thrown off the team.
Make sure you check out Devin’s blog at cannoncrunch.wordpress.com.
Cannon Crunch with Devin Sanguinett