NFL free agency: Buccaneers replace Tom Brady with former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their answer at quarterback now that Tom Brady has retired "for good." The team signed former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield to a one-year, $8.5 million deal Wednesday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Mayfield, 27, got off to a rough start after leaving the Cleveland Browns last season. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers in July and opened the season as the team's starter. He went 1-4 before getting hurt during the team's Week 5 game. Mayfield was mostly used as a backup by Carolina after that, though was thrust back into the starting lineup in Week 11 after P.J. Walker got hurt.

Baker Mayfield is joining the Buccaneers on a one-year deal. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield is joining the Buccaneers on a one-year deal. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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The team released Mayfield in December. He was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams and led a game-winning drive with his new team just days after joining. Mayfield showed improved numbers with Los Angeles, though that fourth-quarter drive remained the high point of his tenure with the franchise.

Buccaneers need Baker Mayfield to perform like he did with Rams

While Mayfield has experienced highs in the NFL, he joins the Bucs at a crucial time in his career. After an injury-riddled 2021, Mayfield failed to impress during his stint with the Panthers. At that point, it looked like his time as a starter in the NFL was coming to an end.

But his resurgence in Los Angeles was promising. Mayfield didn't put up eye-popping numbers with the Rams, but showed improvement. His completion percentage jumped from 57.8 percent in Carolina to 63.6 percent in Los Angeles. That wasn't due to Mayfield making easy completions either. His average yards per attempt increased with the Rams.

If Mayfield can replicate that, the Buccaneers could get a decent season out of the former No. 1 overall pick and Mayfield could extend his career. In the event Mayfield struggles, the Buccaneers can easily move on after one season.

Either way, Mayfield doesn't seem long for Tampa. Everything about the signing indicates the Bucs will use Mayfield as a stopgap solution until the team can find a more permanent option under center.