“It Sure Beats The Alternative”

February 24th, 2024

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He’s not going anywhere.

You can scratch Baker Mayfield’s name off the list of free-agent quarterbacks for 2024. Although the Bucs haven’t made it official that Mayfield is returning under center, logic tells you he’s not going to be allowed to hit the marketplace — where an offensively challenged club like the Falcons or Steelers could trigger a bidding war for No. 6.

Special finish, writes Ira.

Mayfield was always going to be the guy heading into training camp last summer and he’s going to be the guy this fall. There are several factors at play, and all of them strongly suggest Mayfield will be back.

First and foremost, what are Tampa Bay’s alternatives? Are they going to build an offseason marketing campaign around Kyle Trask, who has completed all of 3 NFL passes? That dog don’t hunt if the Bucs are serious about sniffing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.

Sitting at No. 26, the Bucs don’t have the draft capital to move up for a top quarterback prospect. Perhaps a Michael Penix Jr. falls to them. Perhaps. Jason Licht is too smart to take that chance.
Todd Bowles is all-in on Mayfield, and it’s easy to see why. This offense improved as the season went on and Mayfield was the catalyst.

During their 4-7 start, the Bucs averaged 19 points. During their 6-2 finish, the Bucs averaged 24 points as Mayfield threw 17 TD passes and only five interceptions. In two postseason matchups, he threw for a combined 686 yards and tossed three TD passes each game.

Only twice in 19 games did Mayfield throw more than one pick. Only five teams had fewer giveaways than Tampa Bay during the regular season. That’s the kind of ball security Bowles covets.

The hiring of Liam Coen as offensive coordinator was a clear sign Mayfield is staying in the building, The two bonded in Los Angeles and Coen can’t wait for the reunion.

“This was a no-brainer for me,” Coen said. “Obviously, the opportunity to work with Baker, to get back with him, potentially. Baker’s an ignitor, and that’s the type of guy you want to be around. The opportunity to be around him, potentially, every day, to coach a guy that’s as competitive as he is, that has that moxie, that’s fun. You can coach that. That’s something I really wanted to be around.”

Soon, very soon, Coen won’t have to say “potentially” when talking about his second time around with Mayfield.

Wait a minute, you say. What if Mayfield and the Bucs can’t reach an agreement on a new deal? Then what?
Then, regretfully, Licht slaps the franchise tag on No. 6 to ensure at least one more season with a scrappy leader who has won over most of Buc Nation. That tag would be quite expensive, but the salary cap just increased markedly and we’re talking about the most important player on your team.

Here’s a feisty guy who exceeded everyone’s expectations — and now you’re going to start over with someone else? It’s hard to imagine the Glazers allowing that to happen.

The Bucs won’t do better by replacing Mayfield with a free agent … and they can do a lot worse. And while the franchise tag might be considered a last resort, it sure beats the alternative.

When Licht addresses the media at the Indy Combine on Tuesday, he should state unequivocally that Mayfield will be under center this fall. Bowles would sleep better and those words would resonate with Mike Evans.

Let’s end the suspense and the agita. To paraphrase Don Corleone, tell your fan base what everyone seems to know.

He’s not going anywhere.

36 Responses to ““It Sure Beats The Alternative””

  1. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I hope Silly Joe reads and comprehends this.

  2. 2 thumbs up Says:

    Coming from you, Sage, that’s good news!

  3. Tony marks Says:

    “tell your fan base what everyone seems to know.”

    Sounds exactly like what somebody would write who has multiple sources but can’t say he does.

    Good enough here.

  4. go dawgs Says:

    Finally!! Hopefully this means bed wetters like Ethan can finally give up the jock sniffing Trask campaign week-in and week-out on the chat boards?

  5. go dawgs Says:

    Finally!! Hopefully this means bed wetters like Ethan can finally give up the jock sniffing back up qb campaign week-in and week-out on the chat boards?

  6. Dave Pear Says:

    But the experts and geniuses like Oneilbuc assure us that the Bucs can never win with Baker.

    I mean Coen worked with Baker. He surely must know what Oneilbuc insists, that Baker sucks.

    No way the professionals who get paid to eat breathe and sleep football would know more than an internet troll.

  7. Boge Says:

    Who do you feel more confident of retaining if they hit FA, ME or BM? I know the QB is important but I’d rather keep Mike.

    I think Evans is gone if he hits FA. Unless he wants to be a Buc for life. Big risk to take.

  8. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Baker is good enough with Mike. He won’t be good enough without Mike. Resign Mike.

  9. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Said it before and I’ll say it again, if they let Mike walk I will not renew my season tickets.

  10. DoooshLaRue Says:


    So you’re a ME fan not a Bucs fan?

  11. Steven007 Says:

    Red pen, yes you said it, repeatedly. I’m not sure why you keep stating that. It means nothing to the fan base or the posters. And it certainly doesn’t sway anyone. So why keep repeating? And yes, as doosh said, all it does is illustrate that you’re a fan of the player and not the team. I’ve supported every crappy quarterback we’ve had under center, as well as a few good ones. If there are under center, they’re my quarterback. I might not like it but it is what it is. Not sure why you feel so differently.

  12. BucsFan81 Says:

    Winfield number 1 priority and Then Mike Evans. Baker is a system QB without the right system he will suck. That’s why they got the Rams OC to be the OC here. That’s why that got Canales last year because it’s the same system the Baker excels in. Baker isn’t going anywhere he needs a supporting cast of weapons and the right system that the Bucs have in place.

  13. BUCman Says:

    Baker is coming back for sure! It is only a matter of finalizing the contract details before March 5th (last day for franchise tag). They will finalize Baker by this date so they can use the franchise tag on Winfield. Evans desires to hit free agency and test the market. Chances of returning are 50/50.

  14. Crickett Baker Says:

    Well, I am worried that Baker and Mike would like to (especially Mike) test out free agency. I don’t think Mike has ever done it, and Baker is coming off one of his best (if not the best) season. To me, Baker showed his potential, not his ceiling. I don’t think either one of them want to leave the Bucs but I do think they are interested in their value to other teams. Especially Mike, who has been giving up “team-friendly” deals for years. I hope it all turns out like you say, Ira, but I am not counting on it. That, of course, doesn’t mean they won’t return to us, either, after testing FA.

  15. Mitch Says:

    Team friendly deals??? Last deal Mike signed he was a top paid wr

  16. Not Says:

    Right, pay baker and tag Evan’s. End of worry, if no deal is reached with ME by the tag deadline it’s a business , tag him.

  17. MadMax Says:

    33.333 3 years

    I called for Brady we got him…I called for Mayfield we got him (and at the price I suggested)

    Listen to me Jason, DO NOT let him go! And I think Mike will also want to come back after this is secured.

  18. Mark Bennett Says:

    Said six months ago that we would have a 20 something pick and the best QB’s will be gone, unless we mortgage the farm for at least two years draft picks. What I didn’t know, it that Baker would play like the draft pick he was… finally. I don’t see how we don’t sign him to a long term contract… not wanting to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth (one I’m sure Ira could explain to you). It is what it is…get er done.

  19. Allen Lofton Says:

    Finally, an assessment without all the drama. Reasoning has been finally printed to shut down all the noise the media throbs on.

  20. Critmark Says:

    Irrespective of where ME signs, he wants to be in a place where he can keep his 1000 yards streak alive. Yes, he wants to be paid and he wants to win, but that streak is not a meaningless consideration. If the Bucs QB options are Trask and a rookie, I think ME will sign elsewhere.

  21. Bucsmarley Says:

    DE rather have Mac jones than mayfield
    Everyone forgets baker has reall only had 2 good seasons out of 6
    And no matter what you think his play was average this year. How many games did he not decide to show up until late in the game. Yes the green bay game was his unicorn. He knew he wouldn’t get another shot to a payday. He plays with heart no question but still and always will be a flashy streaky.500 qb. Could be the best backup in the league

  22. Shane Callahan Says:

    It still cracks me up when folks say that Baker can’t win without Evans. How many crucial drops did Evans have this year? I can think of 5 just of the top of my head. I hope that Evans does come back, and I hope he puts in the work to figure out how to catch a fastball when necessary.

  23. Suhs Twin Sister Says:

    Didn’t Ira also say Lamar was an unproven, glorified running back last off-season?

  24. DoooshLaRue Says:

    He may have and guess what?
    Lamar seems to choke when it really counts.

  25. T. McGee Says:

    People that threaten not buying tickets make me laugh. I had season tickets too. So what. That’s not how NFL economics works.

  26. Marky Mark Says:

    Kirk Cousins owns a career playoff record of 1-4 across four trips to the postseason, while Mayfield has a record of 2-2 over two forays into the playoffs. Some QB,s do great in the regular season but fall flat in the playoffs. See above and Action Jackson. Baker is the opposite. His regular season numbers are average to above average. But his playoff numbers are elite including creaming the Steelers and Eagles both ironically PA teams. The other two were close last possession losses to KC and Lions. Which makes him a perfect fit for the
    NFC south. Just get in and Bakes takes off.

  27. SenileSenior Says:

    You got it, Sage!

    Thank you Jason Licht.

    Go Bucs!!!

  28. Gipper Says:

    Improve the O line, resign ME and 2023 is Mayfield’s floor. Tampa Bay with an average running game is a serious NFC challenger to SFran in 2024. That is remarkable considering Tampa Bay was projected to win 5 games in 2023.

  29. RGA Says:

    Didn’t IRA say in a recent podcast that the Bucs won’t go to a Super Bowl with the average Mayfield under center, that it’s crucial for an NFL franchise to find a franchise QB unless you have four and possibly five Hall of Famers (Simeon Rice) on the Defensive side of the ball as they did with Brad Johnson at QB, our first superbowl victory? As did the Ravens with Hall of Famers on defense with Dilfer at QB.

  30. Crickett Baker Says:

    Mike still has void years that need to be paid, as far as I know.

  31. BillyBucco Says:

    Without Mike Baker is Baker.
    The prediction for last year will happen this year and the QBs in the draft next year won’t be near as good.
    At least we will get a 1st round WR.
    At least we can still draft good.
    I’ll support the team regardless, but watching Baker is frustrating to me.
    I don’t believe he will get us to the Big Dance, but would be pleasantly surprised.
    Ready for REAL news.
    PS I think the Tag would be repealing what they just did with Brady. EATING 35 million. At least it would be another PROVE IT year. You can forget about Mike or ANY other decent FAs if they tag Baker.

  32. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Honestly, I would take Russell Wilson over Baker.

  33. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Cheaper too.

  34. heyjude Says:

    Hoping to keep Baker, but we need Evans too, Winfield, Wirf. Some of Baker’s throws were off, however Baker still came out ahead. We could do much worse.

  35. Since76 Says:

    Bucco pretty much my sentiments. I just don’t understand the gushing.

  36. Tony marks Says:

    Bucsmarley Says:
    February 24th, 2024 at 5:14 pm
    DE rather have Mac jones than mayfield
    Everyone forgets baker has reall only had 2 good seasons out of 6

    He has had 4 out of 6 and in those averaged around 4,060 yards

    You’ve been corrected on this before but just come back and write the same nonsense each time.