Like Jack Nicholson said in Batman, it's time to think about the future.
It's a strange transitional season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one that has one foot firmly planted in the present while also being mindful of what steps will be taken in the future. Despite a four game losing streak and offseason predictions that the team would tank, the Bucs are just a half-game out of first place and very much alive in the NFC Playoff picture.
The Bucs are competing, and won't stop until the season is over. That doesn't mean the team shouldn't be thinking about what next year looks like and what pieces of the roster will get carried over.
Baker Mayfield is by far the biggest hinge on which next season swings on. He came to the Bucs on a cheap $4 million deal -- one that maxes out at $8.5 million with incentives -- with the idea he would audition to be the new franchise quarterback.
So far the results are mixed from objective observers, but everything coming out of One Bucs Place seems to indicate that he's winning folks over. Jason Licht has spoken highly of him at every opportunity and Todd Bowles is praising him as well.
It's starting to sound more and more like the Bucs are leaning toward at least taking Baker for another test drive next season, with the idea he'll be the franchise quarterback looking more and more likely. There's still a lot of season left, but contract extension talks are very much a talking point in Tampa Bay.
Baker Mayfield comments on potential contract extension
Nothing official has yet been reported, but plenty of speculation has been going around involving Baker and his future with the Bucs. While speaking to the media this week, Mayfield was asked about potential contract extension talks and whether they've taken place.
“Not that I know of," Mayfield said. "For me I’m just taking care of it one game at a time and the rest will fall in place.”
It's still a little early to buy Baker stock as the core part the team's portfolio. While the Bucs got off to a great 3-1 start, the recent rough patch showed everyone a flipside to the coin and muddied the waters a bit.
We've officially seen good and bad versions of the Bucs with Baker leading the charge, and what happens the rest of the season is going to be massively important. A good performance against a tough 49ers team on Sunday will go a long way in selling everyone on a future with Baker under center, but it's still a fine line being walked.
It's a conversation worth revisiting in a few weeks, but right now it sounds like the praise for Baker has not yet been backed up by anyone's pocket book.
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