Latest Baker Mayfield updates ahead of free agency: Where exactly do things stand?

There's a ton of conflicting information on Baker Mayfield and the Bucs, so let's sort it all out.

Tennessee Titans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tennessee Titans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Two of the key free agent dominos for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already fallen, but perhaps the biggest still remains. Re-signing Baker Mayfield is a hinge on which the rest of the Bucs' offseason swings, and time is starting to run out for the team to get a deal done before free agency begins.

Free agency will open on March 13th, with teams able to negotiate with players starting on March 11th. If we get to the legal tampering period and Baker still doesn't have a deal it will create some serious anxiety but doesn't mean he's as good as gone.

The easiest thing would be the Bucs getting a deal done before that window opens. There's already been reported interest from the Falcons, Patriots, and Vikings and surely other quarterback-needy teams will enter the fray if given the chance.

All of this has thrown the situation around Baker into chaos, as rumors are flying and misinformation is all over the place. One erroneous report stated that a deal would be announced on Wednesday, which was run with until beat writers shot it down.

With things only getting more chaotic in the coming days, let's sift through it all and cut right to where things really stand.

Latest Baker Mayfield contract updates ahead of free agency

Updated 3/7

There have only been two rather significant updates in the week leading up to free agency. Contrary to some erroneous stuff that has floated around, all indications are that a gap still exists between Baker and the Bucs.

Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds put an exact figure on it, noting that the two sides are roughly $20 million apart.

"Pewter Report has spoken with multiple sources recently and while there has been some progress since talks began in earnest at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, the Bucs and Mayfield’s camp were very far apart to begin with," Reynolds reported. "How far? Nearly $20 million apart."

ESPN's Jenna Laine reported that talks are slowly coming along, and reminded Bucs fans not to panic about the lack of a deal just yet.

Both updates indicate that the sides are talking, which is really all we can ask for at this juncture. Neither is particularly surprising, although that $20 million gap isn't fun to hear about.

All along it's been clear that Baker is going to try and get the best possible deal, although that doesn't mean he's going to leave the Bucs for top dollar. Instead, this feels like it will play out the way we were all expecting the Mike Evans situation to with Baker hitting the open market to establish a fair price for Tampa Bay to match.

That's what the size of the financial gap between the two seems to indicate.

Right now the numbers are arbitrary, with the Bucs having one in their head and Baker's side having another. The only compass has been the franchise tag, which was set at $38.3 million and seems to be the floor for a deal.

Early projections on a potential deal had Baker getting over $100 million, with comparrisons being drawn to the deal Daniel Jones got from the Giants. It seems that very bad deal for New York has sort of screwed the Bucs in a way, as it's the standard that Baker's side seemingly wants to meet on a new deal.

A better comparison might be to Geno Smith's deal with the Seattle Seahawks. That was a three-year deal worth $75 million but paid out $40 million in guarantees and offered serious stability. The Jones deal was worth more in the end but was loaded with outs that the Giants will seemingly use the first chance they get, so the $160 million value might not get paid out.

It would still be surprising if Baker ended up somewhere else next season. The Bucs have essentially designed their entire approach to the offseason around him coming back, from hiring Liam Coen as offensive coordinator to re-signing Mike Evans first. There's also a ton of mutual respect between the two sides that goes back to how much it meant for Tampa Bay to take a chance on him last offseason, so momentum has been building for quite some time.

Nothing is guaranteed until he signs a contract, though, but things seem to be trending in the right direction.

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