Jason Licht comments on Baker Mayfield contract talks at NFL Combine

"I know he wants to be a Buc"

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions
NFC Divisional Playoffs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions / Nic Antaya/GettyImages
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The football world is descending upon Indianapolis for the NFL Combine this week, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have priorities bigger than just scouting the upcoming draft class.

Atop the list of things the Bucs need to do is re-sign three key free agent: Antoine Winfield Jr., Baker Mayfield, and Mike Evans.

It feels like everything hinges on what happens with Baker, as bringing him back could open up a ton of other moves Tampa Bay's front office can make next month. He more than paid for himself last year after the Bucs gambled on him being able to revive his career, but general manager Jason Licht has been adamant about how that gamble went both ways.

That was something he reiterated on Tuesday when speaking to the media about the ongoing contract talks with Baker.

Jason Licht comments on Baker Mayfield contract talks at NFL Combine

While he didn't show his hand, Licht was candid about where both the Bucs and Baker stand. To the surprise of no one who has actually been paying attention, the two sides are standing no common ground that suggests it's only a matter of time before a deal gets done.

As a show of good faith, Licht talked up Baker's importance in a way that shows the team isn't afraid to pay him what he's worth.

“Baker meant a lot to this team and this fan base and this town. And I think we meant a lot to him. And I think it was a perfect marriage. And I think I've said before he sought us out. He gambled on us. He saw it as a good situation. He saw it better than a lot of national people who saw us with the two games so he he thought it would be good for him and it certainly was so I know he wants to be a buck. We want him to be a buck. So that's usually a good starting point," Licht said.

Don't read into the past tense nature of those comments, even though some folks might try to frame that as a bigger part of what Licht said than it is. We all lived through how the national media treated the Bucs like a punching bag last offseason and it's started once again with trying to create drama between the team and its impending free agents where it doesn't exist.

Licht's comments are perhaps the surest sign yet that a deal is going to get done with Baker.

All along he's been vocal about making sure the team does right by its quarterback, which is not only a masterful tactic but a representation of the type of people the Bucs have running the team. Figures have been tossed out ranging from $75 million to $100 million, but Tampa Bay is going to find the right price to bring Baker back, and won't try to lowball him in the process.

That's a sign not only to Baker but to other free agents of what it's like doing business with the Buccaneers.

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