It's going to be a crazy day in the NFL. The new league year begins later this afternoon and free-agent signings (and trades) can be made official. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hadn't addressed the quarterback position since Tom Brady retired, but they have done so today with the signing of former first overall pick Baker Mayfield. SportsLine offers odds on whether he beats out Kyle Trask to start Week 1, and the SportsLine Projection Model upgrades the Bucs with Mayfield over Trask.
Mayfield got a one-year deal for $8.5 million. He was quite terrible last season with Carolina and was eventually released. With Matthew Stafford hurt, the Rams claimed Mayfield off waivers, and he played five games and started four, going 1-3. He was better in L.A., completing 63.6% of his passes for 850 yards, four touchdowns and two picks for a rating of 86.4 – which still isn't great, but better than his 74.4 in seven games with the Panthers.
The Rams were interested in bringing the Heisman winner back and after LA's final game of the 2022 season, Mayfield said he had no doubt that he was "good enough to be a starting quarterback." Tampa Bay is one of the few teams with a potential starting job open. Trask, a 2021 second-round pick out of Florida, has seen action in one regular-season game in his career. He entered in relief of Brady in last season's regular-season finale in Atlanta. Trask completed 3 of 9 passes for 23 yards.
The Bucs fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after last season, and the candidates to replace him were told Trask would compete for the team's Week 1 starting job. Tampa Bay decided on former Seattle QBs coach Dave Canales, who has said he sees Trask an efficient "point guard" who can distribute the ball to the team's skill position players. The Bucs still have a very good group of wideouts in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage.
If heads coach Todd Bowles wants to keep his job, he can't afford another losing season in 2023. He would surely prefer to go with the veteran Mayfield over the inexperienced Trask – and with a new OC, Trask doesn't have a leg up on knowing the offense like he would have with Leftwich.
The SportsLine Projection Model leaves no doubt over who is the better option. It has the Bucs logging 7.6 wins if Mayfield starts all season compared to 6.4 with Trask. Frankly, 7.6 wins might be enough to capture the NFC South, as the entire division is in a quarterback transition – although New Orleans has settled on Derek Carr. Tampa Bay won the division last year with eight victories. However, the Bucs are currently +550 longshots at DraftKings. The Saints are +125 favorites.
Oddsmakers don't like the Mayfield signing. Tampa Bay's odds to win Super Bowl 58 went from +7500 to +9000 – presumably with the books believing there were better options out there (Carson Wentz? Jacoby Brissett? Teddy Bridgewater? Marcus Mariota?). The model gives the Bucs a 0.6% chance of winning the Super Bowl, which is approximately +16500 on a moneyline. There aren't any 2023 win totals out yet at the sportsbooks, but they should be posted fairly soon. My guess is the Bucs are set at Over/Under 7.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Who starts Week 1 at QB for the Bucs?
- Baker Mayfield -200
- Kyle Trask +150
|w/ Kyle Trask
|w/ Baker Mayfield
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