The Buccaneers are preparing to let Baker Mayfield officially test the market

Buccaneers want Baker Mayfield back. Baker wants Book to stay.

And while that's a likely outcome, it clearly won't happen until Mayfield gets a chance to see what's officially available to him or not available to him.

Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht She acknowledged that fact on FridayIt was the day the team officially announced the new contract signed by receiver Mike Evans.

“a lot of [the team’s pending free agents] “See what the market is at this point,” Licht said Friday, via The Guardian's Rick Stroud. Tampa Bay Times. “I think the beginning of the negotiation period is almost the same as the beginning of free agency, because they're already talking and negotiating.

“So, as we get to Monday, any of our players that haven't signed, it doesn't mean they won't come back. It just means that we've probably got an agreement that they'll see what [their] He deserves [is]. We have a disagreement now, and then let's try to solve it. “We don't want the player to be unhappy either.”

In other words, the Bucs have an offer on the table, and Mayfield thinks it should be higher, and will see if there's something else there. As he should.

One team to keep a close eye on is the Vikings. If Kirk Cousins ​​leaves, Mayfield becomes a viable replacement. Minnesota saw his potential in Week 1, when he led the Bucs into US Bank Stadium for an upset win capped by a gutsy, shoulder-slashing first-down run and a key third-down throw to Chris Godwin.

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The question for the Bucs (as it currently is with the Vikings and Kirk Cousins) becomes whether the player will give his current team a chance to match another team's best offer. At some point, the player may be tempted to go where he or she feels most desirable.

The Bucs, like the Vikings, know they may need to move on to another quarterback.

“You always have to have – as [former Bucs head coach] Bruce [Arians] “He would say – to look behind door 2, 3, 4 and 5,” Licht said. “So, yeah, we always feel like we need options. Yeah, we always have to have plans. We also like Door 2 right here.”

He means Kyle Trask, who will enter the final year of his deal as a starter. Which means if he's the starter and plays well, the Bucs will be in the same boat next year, with the starting quarterback getting a one-way ticket to free agency.

While money is a big factor, as it should be, Mayfield could see another attraction or two in Minnesota. One, Justin Jefferson. Second, Mayfield won't have to worry about losing his offensive coordinator (again) if things go well in 2024. Head coach Kevin O'Connell is running the offense, and he's not going anywhere if things go well.

We'll see how it goes. As of Monday afternoon ET, the dominoes were starting to fall. For now, it's possible Cousins ​​goes to Atlanta and the Vikings fill Baker.

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