Who Would the Buccaneers Turn To If Baker Leaves?


Not saying this is what the Buccaneers should do. Not saying I want to replace Baker Mayfield, not at all.

But, things are progressing a little slower than I think we all expected with Mayfield’s contract, and I’m getting bored (not antsy; I really do think Baker returns, I just want to write about some other options, sue me). 

So without any more justifications of this article, here are 5 options for the Bucs at quarterback in case they can’t come to an agreement with Baker Mayfield, starting with the most obvious and my favorite…

Justin Fields

With the trade market for Fields seemingly more sour than Chicago anticipated, there’s a very real possibility the Bears hold onto Fields and have him and Caleb Williams (or whoever else they might take at #1) compete for the starting gig, or maybe even allow their #1 choice a redshirt year and give Fields a season to increase his trade value/do right by their former “franchise QB.” Regardless, he shouldn’t cost too much in terms of draft capital due to the lack of trade partners for Chicago materializing. Maybe a mid-round or day 3 pick would suffice for the former Ohio State man, and that’s a steal in my opinion for a potential starting QB of the future.

Obviously his throwing concerns are real, with around league average numbers across the board except for in completion percentage, where he’s a very below-average QB. But, he ran for over 1k yards in 2022 and has shown flashes of fun brilliance on a mediocre at best team with one of the worst offensive supporting casts in the league. Give him the Bucs’ o-line and Evans and Godwin, and if he still flounders, you get to move on. No harm, no foul. 

Russell Wilson

The Steelers are reportedly very interested in Wilson despite his up-and-down (to say the least) time in Denver that ended in a sad, depressing fashion. And honestly, it seems like a fine fit; Wilson plays for another experienced, defensive-minded coach in Mike Tomlin and gets to work without the pressure of the massive contract he was given with the Broncos, not to mention the draft capital they gave up to acquire the former Seahawk. But he’d be pretty fun to watch in Tampa Bay; he’s got the Super Bowl pedigree, who knows if there’s still some magic left in the tank, and quite honestly, the hand he was dealt in Denver wasn’t 100% fair. From the Broncos’ perspective, yeah, he’s supposed to be an elite QB who can elevate the team, and he wasn’t that.

But from the Buccaneers’ perspective, he gets to throw to a pair of receivers better than anything he had in Denver and work under even less pressure than he would experience in Pittsburgh. I mean, the Buccaneers can pretty much roll over and win the division, Wilson doesn’t have to worry about Mahomes and Herbert, instead Cousins (or Fields, or whoever the Falcons draft in the first round) and Carr. 

Spencer Rattler

Not as excited or high on Rattler as the next guy I’ll mention, but I am more confident that he’ll fall lower than the man I’ll talk about next (ok fine, it’s Michael Penix, Jr. in case you can’t see it on your screen). Rattler was a huge letdown at Oklahoma and transferred to South Carolina where he was… fine. But he was a huge recruit out of high school and despite his weird character concerns (not criminal, he just seems like a dick), I’m sure the whole OU experience was quite a slice of humble pie.

Hopefully his talent allows him to play up a bit at the NFL level, and he’ll be given a pretty soft landing if he ends up in Tampa; next to no expectations, likely a competition with an established veteran (Jimmy G would be an interesting pairing with Rattler, but he has to serve a PED suspension for 2 games, giving Rattler a leg up on the starting job and eliminating the former 49er/Raider from this list), and a decent offense to work with, so he won’t have to do everything himself.

As far as Rattler’s prospect status, he’s got the elite arm strength you’d look for out of a former top high school recruit and is certainly mobile enough to be good on the move at the NFL level. The problems occur when he’s pressured, as he seems to lack the composure or IQ to deal with blitz schemes, which is an issue that will likely only get worse at the NFL level. Hopefully, if sent to the fire to start his career, the Bucs try to get him moving quite a bit when throwing with bootlegs and easy completions. The question will be if he can take what the defense gives him without letting his seemingly immature decision making rear its ugly head (remember the turnover-filled meltdown against Texas?).

Michael Penix Jr. 

Is Penix a first-round guy? Is he a middle of the draft guy, around the 3rd or 4th rounds? Or is he going to fall farther than people expect? Who knows, but the Buccaneers, if given the chance in the 4th round or later, wouldn’t be foolish to take a chance on the hometown kid out of the University of Washington. There are concerns about his meh mobility, lack of touch on his throws, and his ability to adjust to NFL defenses with his reads through progressions, but hey, if it’s a 4th round pick or later, you could do a lot worse than Penix, Jr.

He’s got good arm strength and he can chuck that thing deep pretty accurately. I’m also a bit worried about his playing against Pac-12 (RIP) defenses, but Justin Herbert and Josh Allen have turned out fine despite playing against subpar teams in college. Quality of competition isn’t everything. 

Mac Jones

Yuck, barf, gross, this is my least favorite mention on this list, but with his name popping up in trade rumors for a consecutive offseason following a year where he was benched repeatedly for Bailey Zappe, he’s at least worth mentioning, if not investing. He’d come with a near $5 million cap hit and some baggage as a crybaby/dirty cheater. If you ask me, I’d rather just run Trask out there and draft a rookie (we’ll get to one later), but I suppose if the Buccaneers really wanted to take a chance on the former Pro Bowler it wouldn’t be the worst thing. Just only trade a day 3 pick. No more. 

Follow @ctbrantley12 on Twitter and listen to him on the RBLR Bucs podcast

Follow, Like and Subscribe to Bucs Report


For more on this and everything Buccaneers check back here hourly at BucsReport.com