Buccaneers may have lost Baker Mayfield already in 2024

The Buccaneers all but certain to lose Baker Mayfield now?

Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were NFC South Champions yet again in 2023, but perhaps the bigger story from this past season was the development of Baker Mayfield under offensive coordinator Dave Canales.

The former first overall pick had one of the best seasons of his NFL career, throwing for over 4,000 yards and completing over 64 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Mayfield was decisive as a passer, he was much more accurate than he's been at times in his career, and it's clear that the working relationship between him and Canales was productive, to say the least.

Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that success might be short-lived.

The Bucs made the right decision to go after Mayfield in free agency. It was a worthwhile dart throw at a former #1 overall pick who would be surrounded in Tampa Bay by outstanding teammates and a great defense to have his back. The Bucs weren't world-beaters in 2023, but winning nine games and knocking off the Eagles in the playoffs?

It was huge.

So why does it have to be short-lived? First of all, Mayfield is a free agent in March. The Buccaneers, I'm sure, would love to figure out a deal to keep Mayfield in Tampa Bay for at least another season or two. The issue with that is, the Bucs are now in search of a new offensive coordinator.

Dave Canales, the Bucs' offensive coordinator this past year and the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator before that, is now taking his QB whispering skills to Carolina where they're looking to get Bryce Young looking like a #1 pick again.

The loss of Canales is massive for the Bucs. There are other offensive coordinators that would work with Mayfield, and I'm sure there are other coordinators that Mayfield would excel under, but Mayfield's decision to return to Tampa Bay has suddenly become a lot more complicated.

Without Canales running the offense, Mayfield certainly doesn't have to limit himself to going back to the Bucs. Another factor is that Mike Evans is heading to free agency as well. Does Mayfield want to come back to Tampa Bay without his offensive coordinator and #1 receiver?

Mayfield's going to be switching offensive schemes one way or the other. He's built some significant relational equity in Tampa Bay and they responded well to Mayfield as the leader of the team. It's not like it is a guarantee that Mayfield won't be back with the Bucs. But the departure of Canales and the potential of losing a player like Evans leaves Mayfield with a much easier decision to go elsewhere in free agency.

He's rehabbed his value enough to the point that I think Mayfield will have plenty of options this coming offseason, and he should make sure that the fit -- both in terms of coaching and money -- is exactly the right one going forward.

Keeping Mayfield would be a big win for Tampa Bay, but you don't have to wait until his decision to win big thanks to FanDuel! All you have to do is sign up, deposit $10 or more and then bet $5 or more on any Chiefs vs. Niners bet. You'll win $200 in bonus bets if your wager wins, no matter the odds. Sign up with FanDuel today!