Former Buccaneers player claims Baker Mayfield was 'on his way out' during the season

Mud is getting flung all over the place as contract talks between Baker Mayfield and the Bucs continue to drag on.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

NFL free agency is set to open in a few days and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still don't have a deal in place to bring Baker Mayfield back. That's the biggest, and most important, outstanding task the team has this offseason and the clock is starting to tick louder and louder.

Once the legal tampering period begins, other teams can enter the fray and start pushing Baker away from Tampa Bay. A return to the Bucs still feels like the most likely outcome, but until a contract is signed anything is possible.

A deal is slowly being worked on, but nothing has happened yet. In the meantime, rumors are getting kicked up left and right about where Baker will go if he hits the open market and what teams might try to steal him away. It's even gotten to the point where former players are trying to pick at the past to seemingly bring Baker down.

Ex-Buccaneers player says Baker Mayfield was close to being benched

Consider the source, but former Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson claims that Baker was close to being benched during the team's midseason slump.

“Baker Mayfield was almost on his way out of Tampa Bay mid-year,” Johnson said. “He was on his way out of Tampa Bay. He turned things around again in Tampa Bay. But in the middle of the year, there was questions about whether or not he was going to be benched for Kyle Trask.”

There's a few ways to interpret that first part, even if the second part seems a little ridiculous. At no point during the 1-6 losing streak did it seem like a good idea to move Baker to the bench, as he always gave the Bucs the best chance at winning.

Baker proved that in December, helping the team go 5-1 down the strech to win the division and then destroy Philadelphia in the Wild Card round.

What's interesting to ponder is just how close the Bucs were to souring on him long-term. He always gave them the better chance of winning over Trask, but there could be weight to what Johnson hints at in terms of the team perhaps altering it's outlook beyond the season.

Even if there's some truth to that, what Baker did in the last six games of the regular season squashed any notion that he shouldn't be the guy moving forward. If the losing streak proved anything it was that Baker gives the Bucs something they lacked the year before when faced with the same style of adversity and that's worth bringing back and seeing if it can built around, despite what rumors might have existed four months ago.

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