Orlando, Florida. Dave Canales’ resignation from Tampa may have far-reaching consequences.
Following a career revival with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Canales as offensive coordinator, quarterback Baker Mayfield is an imminent free agency, and finding the appropriat-e OC fit will be a significant role in where he ends up.
“It all just kind of depends,” Mayfield told NFL Network’s Cam Wolfe Thursday at the Pro Bowl Games, when asked where he plans to play in 2024. “Obviously, Tampa, we’re doing a little bit of OC searching right now. It will start there. They were the first ones to give me a chance, and I am grateful to them. We will see. “Taking things one day at a time.”
Mayfield’s best NFL season came during Canales’ first (and only) season as the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator. It added up to the Bucs winning the NFC South, progressing to the NFC Divisional Round, and Mayfield earning his first Pro Bowl appearance, where he won the precision passing event on Thursday. However, after assisting Mayfield to a season of 4,044 yards, 28 touchdowns, and a 64.3 completion %, Canales accepted the head coaching position with the Carolina Panthers.
Mayfield is unlikely to reunite with Canales (and the Panthers, with whom he spent parts of the 2022 season), as Carolina is developing around Bryce Young.
Thus, Tampa’s next offensive coordinator might determine whether Mayfield returns to the Bucs or goes elsewhere.
“My agent and them, I think they engaged a little bit,” Mayfield said of the talks. “But obviously when Canales left — and happy for him, as well, getting a head coaching job, he deserves that — but when they started the OC search, I think they know that we’ve got to know who’s calling plays before anything’s done.”
After being picked first overall by the Cleveland Browns and making stops with the Panthers and Los Angeles Rams, Mayfield found his best match in Tampa. However, it is apparent that he achieved much of his success in collaboration with Canales. If the Bucs want to keep Mayfield, they will need to find a suitable fit for both themselves and him.
Assuming he returns in 2024, Mayfield believes Bucs fans may expect the team to expand on its Divisional Round success in 2023. And, in what could be interpreted as a sign of his leanings or hopes, Mayfield continued to use the word “we” while discussing the Bucs.
“We’re gonna get some pieces back,” he went on to say. “Everything we did in the second half of the year to improve the locker room culture was successful. So you get a lot of those things back, and culture is the most important thing. I know there was a bit of a lull halfway through the season, but we kept with it. I know they stayed with us the entire time, but hang in there again.”