Buccaneers GM explains why Baker Mayfield was brave to replace Tom Brady

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht recently admitted he “literally lost sleep over” the thought of star wide receiver Mike Evans potentially leaving the club as a free agent. 

    During a Thursday appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Licht again touched upon “sleepless nights” regarding the futures of key figures such as Evans and quarterback Baker Mayfield. Licht re-signed both Evans and Mayfield in March.

    “Not many quarterbacks would be willing to walk into the situation where you had the greatest of all time, Tom Brady, leave,” Licht said about Mayfield, as shared by the JoeBucsFan website. “And there is no doubt about that, he was the greatest of all time.” 

    Mayfield and other Tampa Bay players made it known last offseason they were keeping receipts after a plethora of preseason predictions forecasted the Buccaneers would fall to the bottom of at least the NFC South division standings following Brady’s second retirement in February 2023. 

    After Mayfield guided the franchise to a third straight division title and a blowout playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card round, former Buccaneers head coach and current club senior advisor Bruce Arians noted that the 29-year-old possessed a “charisma” and “fire” needed to replace a living legend such as Brady. 

    “For a quarterback to come in and be secure with himself and be confident that he can lead this team to wins — and he circled us,” Licht said about Mayfield signing a one-year deal with Tampa Bay in March 2023. “‘I’m going there because I like that team and this is where I’m going to revive my career.’ And that’s exactly what he did.”

    Licht is correct, as Mayfield became a finalist for the Comeback Player of the Year Award in his first season with the Buccaneers. Even though they proved doubters wrong as recently as January, Mayfield and company are again underdogs this spring due to the Atlanta Falcons signing veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency.

    As of Friday afternoon, DraftKings Sportsbook listed the Falcons as the betting favorites at -130 odds to claim the division title for the 2024 campaign. At that same time, the Buccaneers were seeing +300 odds. 

    Mayfield’s future with the Bucs and maybe as an NFL starter was up in the air when the club entered this past December at 4-7 as Brady’s shadow hovered over the organization. The first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft who was dumped by two clubs in 2022 is no stranger to adversity and, thus, probably isn’t losing sleep about a Cousins-led Falcons team during springtime workouts. 

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