Even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t playing in the final week of the season, there’s still plenty of buzz around the team at the Super Bowl.
As the NFL media world descends on Las Vegas at this year’s Radio Row, players are doing the rounds and getting more candid than they otherwise might have been during the season. Baker Mayfield has always been a pretty open book, which is one of the reasons the Bucs locker room rallied around him so much.
Baker turned in a career year, leading Tampa Bay to the NFC Divisional Round and making the case that he deserves to be the franchise quarterback moving forward. That’s been a hot topic of debate on Radio Row, with Baker going as far as to provide some updates — both intentional and unintentional — about what the future holds.
Latest Baker Mayfield free agency updates ahead of Super Bowl
Baker sat down with The Rich Eisen Show on Wednesday and gave an update on where things stand with the Bucs. He noted that after hiring an offensive coordinator, which was the first big step of the offseason, now is the time for his agent to start negotiating with the Bucs to hammer out a deal.
Everyone that Baker talked to heard basically the same message, that he loves playing in Tampa Bay and wants to return. What they didn’t hear was Baker’s candid comments to Steve Young which were picked up by a hot mic on the Up and Adams set.
It’s hard to make out exactly what Baker said, but the sentiment seems pretty unmistakable.
A return to Tampa Bay remains the best and most likely outcome this offseason, something that the candid hot mic comments seem to confirm. The Bucs took a chance on Baker and he’s been very open about how much that meant and how far it goes in his book. Money talks louder than anything in the NFL, but it sounds like only a matter of time before Baker makes his return official.
Buccaneers linked to Tony Pollard in CBS Sports free agency ranking
While we still have the Super Bowl ahead of us, free agency buzz is already starting to build. Right now all we can go off is rumors and speculation, some of which is a little hard to believe. File CBS Sports linking Tony Pollard to the Bucs under that category.
In a recent ranking of top free agents and where they might land, Pollard was listed as landing in Tampa Bay. The blurb didn’t really dive into why, but the idea is now something that’s out there.
"Statistically, Pollard remained a passable starter for Dallas in 2023, but his efficiency has decreased in recent years. Remarkably, he's still just 26. It wouldn't be a shock to see the Cowboys finally pivot to a cheaper rotation.- CBS Sports
Projected team: Buccaneers"
It would help to hear what the logic was behind this since it feels like a bit of a stretch. Pollard is a really good running back and the Bucs have more money to spend than they had last offseason — and a need to add talents. That’s surface level, but it does lead to the idea that a top running back heading to a team with one of the worst rushing attacks in the league making some sense.
Where it doesn’t make too much sense is how much money the Bucs would spend on a guy who doesn’t really compliment Rachaad White. Both players do a lot of the same things, so the Bucs would be paying for a redundancy and also a battle for RB1.
That battle could still exist if they add another running back like Saquon Barkley, who has also been linked to the Bucs, but at least there seems to be a bigger physical difference between the two running backs.
We’re early in the offeseason, so speculation like this is going to run rampant — and truthfully it’s fun to engage in even if it makes some folks grumpy. But there’s a difference between having a fun hypothetical chat and something like Tony Pollard landing in Tampa Bay making more sense than pursuing another running back.