Report: Baker Mayfield contract talks expected to heat up next week

It sounds like the two sides could reach a deal in the very near future.

Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

The offseason is officially here, and the NFL Combine taking place in Indianapolis next week will signal the true beginning of NFL Draft SZN.

Jason Licht and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be in Indy, but they'll have other priorities. While scouting this year's top prospects will be happening in the open but behind closed doors, the Bucs will reportedly try to work out a deal for quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Re-signing Mayfield is a top priority for the Bucs this offseason, and it sounds like the ball is already moving down the field toward getting something done soon.

Baker Mayfield contract talks expected to heat up next week

According to Bucs insider Rick Stroud, the Buccaneers have had preliminary talks with Mayfield about a new contract. The goal seems to be getting something done before free agency opens on March 13th, and doing so could help open up other moves the team needs to make (like re-signing Mike Evans).

First and foremost, though, is making sure Mayfield is locked in.

"[Jason] Licht is expected to meet with Mayfield’s agent, Tom Mills, next week. Both sides have expressed an interest in reaching an agreement for Mayfield to return to Tampa Bay," Stroud reported.

Of the Buccaneers' three key free agents, Mayfield has always seemed like the surest thing. Antoine Winfield Jr is a close second, but there's more team control there thanks to the franchise tag. Tampa Bay was never going to use the tag on Baker, although Stroud indicates the team is willing to give him at least the equivalent of the tag's value.

That could mean Baker ends up with the $100 million contract that was speculated after the season ended, although that estimation has come down. It feels like between the franchise tag value and the high-end of what was speculated, something in the range of $75 million plus incentives is something the Bucs would feel comfortable with.

We'll have to wait and see what talks this week produce, but it's worth noting that the historic salary cap increase might allow Jason Licht and the Bucs a little more wiggle room in meeting Baker in the middle.

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