The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start Baker Mayfield on Friday night in their preseason matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Mayfield will get the first-team reps against Pittsburgh, and Bowles told members of the media that Kyle Trask will start the following week against the New York Jets. The Buccaneers have yet to determine a Week 1 starter against the Vikings on Sept. 10.
- Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma, joined Tampa Bay this offseason after time with the Carolina Panthers and the Los Angeles Rams. He played his first four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
- The Bucs drafted Trask as a second-round pick in 2021 out of Florida. He appeared in one game last season for the Buccaneers, going 3-for-9 for 23 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
- Tampa Bay is looking to replace future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, who retired in February after 23 seasons. Brady played his final three years with the Buccaneers, leading the team to a Super Bowl in 2020.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Experience earns the first crack
In rolling with Mayfield for the first preseason game, Bowles is giving the more experienced option (and the player many around the league view as the favorite to win the job) the first crack.
Mayfield has 69 starts, 1,386 pass completions, 102 touchdowns and 64 interceptions and a 31-38 record under his belt. He seemingly is more positioned to lead a team at this point compared to Trask, who has just nine pass attempts and three pass completions to his name. — Jones
Mayfield has held the edge
Offensive coordinator Dave Canales had said that entering training camp, Mayfield held the slight edge in this quarterback competition because of his command of the offense. Trask and Mayfield have alternated days working with the first team, and Trask has pleased coaches while demonstrating that although he’s still learning, he can still protect the football.
Mayfield has thrown more interceptions, and as a result, Canales said the competition had tightened some. Games will likely go a long way to settling this. — Jones
Welcomed head start
Mayfield noted last week that this is the first time in a while that he has had a full offseason with a team. The 2020 offseason featured COVID-19 restrictions, and in 2022 Mayfield was recovering from shoulder surgery while at odds with the Browns, and then he was traded to Carolina just before training camp. Now he has a chance to show what he can do after spending all of OTAs and this start of training camp in the Bucs playbook.
He also feels further ahead because of his five-game stint with the Rams to end the 2022 season. L.A. runs a similar offense to Canales, so Mayfield has said that playing time under Sean McVay was a “head start,” and should position him for success. He gets to prove if that’s the case this week. — Jones
(Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today)