Will Baker Mayfield return to the Buccaneers? QB wants to stay in Tampa Bay after playoff loss vs. Lions

Baker Mayfield led the Buccaneers to a surprisingly great season in 2023, but it officially came to an end on Sunday with a divisional-round playoff loss to the Lions.

The Buccaneers lost 31-23 in a tightly contested battle that saw each offense struggle in the first half before busting things open in the third quarter.

Ultimately, Jared Goff and the Lions were able to build a late 14-point lead thanks to touchdowns by Jahmyr Gibbs and Amon-Ra St. championship game since 1992.

Mayfield acknowledged that the defeat was a tough one for him to stomach. Brown. Mayfield put forth a strong comeback effort, but he tossed a final-drive interception to Derrick Barnes to send Detroit to its first NFC

“It sucks,” he told reporters after the game. “I feel like my heart just got ripped out.”

Less difficult for Mayfield were the questions he faced about his future. He is set to be a free agent, as his one-year contract with the Buccaneers will expire when the new league year starts in mid-March, but he made it clear that he wants to stay in Tampa Bay.

MORE: Baker Mayfield went from No. 1 pick to Panthers scout team to Buccaneers QB

Will Baker Mayfield return to the Buccaneers?

Mayfield was asked point-blank if he wanted to return to the Buccaneers for the 2024 season. He answered in the affirmative.

“It would mean a lot to me,” he told reporters. “I would love that.”

It’s easy to understand why Mayfield would want to return to the Buccaneers. He enjoyed what was arguably the best season of his NFL career with the Buccaneers, posting career-best marks in completion percentage (64.3), passing yards (4,044), and passing touchdowns (28) while only throwing 10 interceptions.

Mayfield worked well with offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who has gotten some head-coaching interest because of Mayfield’s progression under his tutelage. However, if Canales remains with the Buccaneers, it stands to reason that he and Mayfield would only continue to improve as each becomes more comfortable with the other.

Additionally, Mayfield has expressed comfort with the weapons he had in Tampa Bay. Notably, he praised veteran wideout Mike Evans and expressed a desire to keep playing with the free-agent-to-be in 2024, even if it requires sacrifices to be made.

“He makes my life easy,” Mayfield said of Evans. “He did all year. He did it today, over and over. To get everybody back, there have to be sacrifices made. This team’s about winning. We have a group of guys who are all about that. If I’m back, I want Mike back.”

So, with all that said, it seems likely that Mayfield will return to the Buccaneers, as the team has expressed an interest in keeping him. It’s just a matter of how much he will make on his next contract with the team.

MORE: Why the Buccaneers want to re-sign Baker Mayfield for 2024

Baker Mayfield contract projection

It seems likely that the Buccaneers will aim to re-sign Mayfield for the 2024 NFL season, and they will almost certainly look to lock him in beyond that. The team has $50 million in cap space available during the offseason, so they can afford to give Mayfield a lucrative, long-term extension.

The big question is whether Mayfield and the Buccaneers will be close enough in negotiations to avoid using the franchise tag. That tool remains available if the two parties run into any snags, but it seems more likely that they will find a middle ground.

Why? Because the Buccaneers are Mayfield’s fourth different team of the past three seasons. He will likely be searching for long-term security while the Buccaneers won’t be keen on switching quarterbacks for a second consecutive offseason, especially after Mayfield proved to be a solid replacement for Tom Brady.

With that in mind, it seems like a long-term deal between Mayfield and the Buccaneers will place him in the NFL’s middle class of quarterbacks. Spotrac.com projects that he will get a four-year, $108.5 million deal worth roughly $27.1 million in average annual value (AAV). That would make him the NFL’s 18th-highest-paid quarterback in AAV, an amount that seems about right.

That said, it’s possible that Mayfield could command a bit more than that given the state of the NFL’s quarterback market and his relative youth (29 in April) compared to some of the other top players available at the position. That’s why SN’s Vinnie Iyer projects that Mayfield will get a slightly longer and more lucrative deal at five years, $150 million with an AAV of $30 million.

MORE: Full projections of Baker Mayfield’s next contract with the Buccaneers

Of course, the gross value of Mayfield’s contract will matter less than the guarantees baked into it. The length may not be overly important either, as the Buccaneers will likely place an out in the deal within the first couple of seasons in case Mayfield’s performance regresses.

As it stands, it seems like Mayfield is poised for a nine-figure payday, and it would hardly be a surprise to see him make $30 million in AAV on his next deal.

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