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Buccaneers expected to target QB Baker Mayfield as potential starter

Baker Mayfield's days as a starting quarterback in the NFL could be receiving renewed life.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to target Mayfield, who's coming off 2022 stints with the Carolina Panthers and Los Angles Rams, as a potential starting quarterback option, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported Sunday.

Should the Bucs sign Mayfield when free agency hits this week, he would presumably compete with Kyle Trask for the QB1 spot as Tampa moves on from Tom Brady. Looking for a veteran free-agent QB at the right price, the Buccaneers have a "few guys" they will look at, but Mayfield could be the most sensible choice in terms of being a fit for the team and financially speaking, Garafolo added.

Taking the coveted No. 101 spot in Gregg Rosenthal's top 101 free agents of 2023, Mayfield has had a roller-coaster career since he was taken No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Following four mercurial seasons in Cleveland highlighted by a dynamic rookie campaign and a 2020 playoff run, Mayfield was traded from the Browns to the Carolina Panthers last offseason. Mayfield, who also battled injuries, never clicked with the Panthers and was waived. The Rams gave him shelter from the storm and Mayfield responded with a resounding debut when he led L.A. to a comeback win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Ultimately, Mayfield's 2022 campaign saw him go 2-8 as a starter with the Panthers and Rams, throwing for 2,163 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 12 games (10 starts). The 27-year-old, who is looking for his fourth club in three seasons, could provide a bit of excitement for the Bucs, but would likely be a big-name bridge until Tampa finds its next franchise QB.

Still needing to do some work to get under the salary cap, the Buccaneers and head coach Todd Bowles are balancing the books and trying to do their best to move on from the loss of Brady. Mayfield has emerged as a candidate to help them do both.

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