After signing a one-year prove-it deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baker Mayfield has proven his value as their starting quarterback. As the Buccaneers consider their future with Mayfield, it is important to assess his worth to the team going forward.

Mayfield’s impressive performance in the 2023 season exceeded expectations, earning him well more than his $4 million base salary. By maximizing incentives for individual and team performance, he secured an additional $1.9 million bonus. This success has positioned Mayfield for a significant increase in both value and contract length if the Buccaneers wish to retain him beyond 2024.

Examining Mayfield’s contract history provides valuable insights into his financial trajectory. As the No. 1 overall draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2018, Mayfield signed a four-year rookie contract worth $32.68 million, fully guaranteed. The Browns exercised their fifth-year option for the 2022 season, guaranteeing Mayfield an additional $18.9 million.

However, Mayfield’s salary situation became complicated when the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson in the 2022 offseason, leading Mayfield to request a trade. He was subsequently traded to the Carolina Panthers, accepting a $3.5 million pay cut and earning only $5 million from the Panthers. The Browns remained obligated to pay him $9 million for his play in the 2022 season.

Following a disappointing stint with the Panthers, Mayfield requested his release in December and was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams owed him $1.35 million, which he earned. In free agency, the Buccaneers signed Mayfield to a one-year, $4 million contract before he turned 28 in April.

Considering Mayfield’s career earnings, he has accumulated over $55 million in his six full NFL seasons, averaging more than $9 million per season. This financial track record demonstrates his consistent value and performance in the league.

When projecting Mayfield’s next contract with the Buccaneers, it is helpful to draw a parallel from the 2023 offseason. Offensive coordinator Dave Canales played a crucial role in revitalizing Mayfield’s career, just as he did with Geno Smith while with the Seattle Seahawks. Smith, who turned 33 in October, received a new three-year contract in 2023 worth $75 million, with $40 million guaranteed.

Comparing Mayfield’s 2023 season with Smith’s 2022 breakout season, Mayfield’s metrics indicate better and more consistent performance. Additionally, Mayfield’s younger age and potential for long-term success make him an attractive option for the Buccaneers. With approximately $50 million available in cap space for 2024, the team is in a comfortable financial position.

A reasonable contract for Mayfield could involve a bump in salary to $30 million per year, keeping the Buccaneers in the middle range of quarterback salaries. A five-year deal worth $150 million, with around $60 million guaranteed, would be fair and provide security for Mayfield through his age-33 season.

By securing Mayfield with this contract, the Buccaneers would not only be making a sound financial investment but also ensuring their competitiveness in the face of rising quarterback salaries. This agreement would allow the team to address other roster concerns while maintaining their competitive edge.

In conclusion, Baker Mayfield has proven his worth to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, exceeding expectations and showcasing his potential as a long-term solution at quarterback. With a well-structured contract, the Buccaneers can secure Mayfield’s services and position themselves for continued success in the coming years.

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