Tampa Bay Bucs Name QB Baker Mayfield the Week 1 Starter
Posted on: August 23, 2023, 09:10h.
Last updated on: August 31, 2023, 10:23h.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start Baker Mayfield at quarterback in Week 1 when the Bucs play the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener.
Mayfield edged out Kyle Trask as the starting quarterback. Head coach Todd Bowles tapped Mayfield to begin the season as Tom Brady’s successor.
I’ve just got to lead like I know how, and the real thing is right around the corner,” said Mayfield. “It’s an exciting time.”
Mayfield, 28, was the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He had a storied collegiate career with Oklahoma and won the Heisman Trophy in 2017. Many NFL scouts believed Mayfield lacked the physical attributes to be an NFL quarterback. But that didn’t deter the Cleveland Browns from taking a flier on him with the first pick in the draft.
Mayfield led the Browns to an 11-5 record and one playoff victory in 2020. The Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round. That was their high-water mark under Mayfield. They went 8-9 in 2021 and missed the playoffs after Mayfield sustained a shoulder injury.
In 59 games with the Browns, Mayfield was 29-30 as a starter. He threw 92 touchdowns and 68 interceptions while completing 61.6% of his passes.
Last Chance for Mayfield
The Browns gave up on Mayfield last summer and went all-in on Deshaun Watson. They traded Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers, where he was expected to compete for a starting job with Sam Darnold.
When Darnold suffered an ankle injury in preseason, Mayfield was tapped as the starter. In six starts with the Panthers, Mayfield was 1-5 before he was benched in favor of Darnold. The Panthers cut Mayfield in December.
The Los Angeles Rams signed Mayfield late in the season when Matthew Stafford went down with an injury. Mayfield went 1-3 as a starter with the Rams, and won his first start on “Thursday Night Football” in a comeback win against the Las Vegas Raiders. Despite the initial success, Mayfield lost his next three starts.
Mayfield was a free agent in the off-season and headed to Tampa Bay after Tom Brady retired for good this off-season. He inked a one-year contract worth $4 million, but there are incentives where he could earn up to $8.5 million.
Heading into training camp, Mayfield was expected to compete with Trask for the QB #1 position. Mayfield outplayed Trask in the preseason to earn the starting job and will now start at quarterback for his fourth different team in the last three seasons.
Baker’s our starting quarterback, Kyle’s our number two,” Bowles told beat reporters. “We love everything Kyle has done, but Baker’s our guy right now experience-wise and understanding the playbook a little bit better.”
“I expect to be the starter,” Mayfield said. “I know how talented I am, and know what type of leader I am. Now it’s time for the real thing.”
“All-around, Baker can throw it, he’s very smart, he understands football very well, he can read defenses, he’s very good for the scheme we’re using,” added Bowles.
Trask the Backup … for Now
Trask, a second-year player out of Florida, was a late second-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft. He set a single-season touchdown record at Florida with 43 in 2020. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and finished fourth overall in voting behind fellow quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence from Clemson and Mac Jones from Alabama.
Brady started in every game he played during his three seasons with the Bucs. Trask appeared in only one game as Brady’s backup last season, completing only 33.3% of his passes and not throwing a touchdown.
Kyle is on the come up,” said Bowles. “He’s gotten leaps and bounds better than he was in the spring and he’s continuing to get better and we’re excited about him.”
If Mayfield falters, then Bowles will have no qualms about giving Trask a shot. From what the organization has said about Trask, they believe he’s the quarterback of the future. But he’s not quite ready yet.
John Wofford, who was a backup with the Los Angeles Rams for the past three seasons, is currently the third-string quarterback on the Bucs.
Betting the Futures Market in Tampa Bay
The Bucs recently lost wide receiver Russell Gage to a season-ending knee injury. But they still have two outstanding wideouts in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
The Bucs are the defending NFC South champions. They clinched a playoff berth with a losing 8-9 record because the NFC South was the worst division in the NFL in 2022. The Bucs are a long shot to win the NFC South at +800 odds.
The New Orleans Saints are the consensus favorite to win the NFC South at +120 odds. The Atlanta Falcons are +215 odds to win the division because futures bettors are high on rookie running back Bijan Robinson. The Panthers, one of Mayfield’s former teams, are +450 odds to win the division.
The Bucs enter this season with a win total of 6.5 over/under, which is the lowest number in the NFC South.
The Bucs are a favorite to miss the playoffs at -500 odds, according to a prop bet by DraftKings. You can back the Bucs at +400 odds to qualify for the postseason.
The Bucs begin the regular season as a +6.5 road underdog against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 1.
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