There's a legitimate quarterback battle down in Tampa. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield to come in and battle Kyle Trask for the right to replace Tom Brady under center. The average fan would view Mayfield as the heavy favorite to win the job, but the competition has apparently been close as of late.
So close, in fact, both signal-callers will get a chance to start to open the preseason. Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles told reporters Wednesday, via NFL Media, that Mayfield will start Tampa Bay's first exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Steelers while Trask will start the next one against the New York Jets.
Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales was asked recently if the quarterback competition has tightened since the start of training camp. Canales answered with, "Oh yeah, absolutely," per the Tampa Bay Times.
"First couple of days, I think the experience that Baker brings -- just playing in games, being in camps, going through installs -- you could see where the offense was jelling really well," Canales said. "The timing of the snaps and all that is really critical for us, so probably a little bit of an edge for Baker to start off, just in terms of the smoothness of the offense.
"But it just took a couple of days for Kyle to really settle in, and then what we saw is, the last two practices Kyle really showed what he can do: stretching the field with his arm, getting the ball out quickly, making decisions. So I'm really excited about both of those guys and the progression that they've made throughout the last couple of days."
"Sounds and looks like there is a real QB competition in Tampa," Prisco posted on social media. "Didn't think that when I was there for minicamp. But Kyle Trask is playing well. Had a nice night too."
Trask was selected by the Buccaneers with the No. 64 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Florida after leading the FBS in passing touchdowns with 43. However, he's attempted just nine passes in his two NFL seasons, completing three of them for a total of 23 yards. Blaine Gabbert served as Brady's primary backup over the past couple seasons, but he is now with the Kansas City Chiefs.
As for Mayfield, his career has been very different since leading the Cleveland Browns to their first playoff victory since the 1994 season. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers ahead of the 2022 campaign, but asked for his release after going 1-5 as the starter. Mayfield wrapped up the season with the Los Angeles Rams, and went 1-3 in four starts. That does not include the remarkable Week 14 comeback victory against the Las Vegas Raiders, where Mayfield led the Rams on a 98-yard game-winning drive just days after being claimed off of waivers.
This battle is likely to be decided during the three preseason games. Don't be quick to count out the 25-year-old Trask.