ESPN insider suggests a new team might try to steal Baker Mayfield from Buccaneers

ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler tossed out another potential suitor for Mayfield this offseason.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Minnesota Vikings
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Minnesota Vikings / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

The offseason to-list for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is both complicated yet incredibly simple.

If the Bucs want to remain competitive and build on the success of last year, bringing back the team's three key free agency is a must. That's the easy part, though, as actually re-signing them is a little harder to work out.

Mike Evans has always been the wild card of the bunch, and he's already declared his intention to test the market. That doesn't mean he won't return to Tampa Bay but it puts pressure on the Bucs to get a deal done with another of its key free agents, Baker Mayfield.

It's long felt like a matter of time before a deal gets done but the clock is starting to tick louder and louder. The league's legal tampering period begins on March 11th -- just a week from now -- and the Bucs need to ensure they have something done with Baker by then or risk a growing list of teams potentially stealing him away.

Vikings could be a surprise suitor for Baker Mayfield in free agency

Fowler echoed reports that the Patriots are interested in Mayfield but suggested the Minnesota Vikings could be a surprise contender if they are unable to bring back Kirk Cousins.

"One more thought: While Cousins is undoubtedly the top option should he leave Minnesota, Mayfield is clearly the No. 2 free agent passer. It wouldn't be a shock if the Vikings got involved should Cousins leave," Fowler wrote.

Much like the Mayfield-Patriots talk, this is all supeculative hearsay until something more definitive comes along. That probably won't happen until closer to the league year starting on March 13th, with the only real update possible between now and then being Baker declaring his intention to test the market.

The Bucs have the inside track to making sure that doesn't happen. Tampa Bay has a week to try and hammer out a deal with Mayfield, something the team has been trying to do since the start of the NFL Combine last week.

So far nothing has been agreed upon but all signs still point toward Baker returning to the Bucs. This outside noise may end up being nothing more than that, although it's likely a negotiating tactic to try and ensure the price on Baker is a fair one.

Tampa Bay's front office has always intended to pay fair market value for Baker and the mutual interest between the two sides is rooted in the respect of knowing he won't be lowballed. If anything the outside interest from teams like Atlanta, Minnesota, and New England only confirms that the Bucs bringing Baker back is the right move.

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