Buccaneers Tied to QB Russell Wilson as Potential Trade Destination

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could make sense as a trade destination for Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos if they allow Baker Mayfield to walk in free agency.

The Buccaneers have a tie to Wilson in Dave Canales, the team’s first-year offensive coordinator who spent 13 years as an assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks, including 10 seasons spent with Wilson, according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell.

“Offensive coordinator Dave Canales spent the entirety of his NFL career up until this season working with the Seahawks, eventually taking over as their quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator,” Barnwell wrote in a story published December 21. “He has seen the best of Russell Wilson, so if the Broncos do decide to trade their starter and the Buccaneers are desperate for a solution, Canales would be able to give them the scoop.”

Why Russell Wilson Trade Is Unlikely for Buccaneers

This potential scenario is a major hypothetical considering Wilson is one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL and is still under contract with the Broncos for five years at an annual average salary of $48.5 million. However, Wilson is in the midst of a comeback type of year, ranking in the top 10 of most statistical passing categories.

Heading into Week 16, he ranks eighth in passing touchdowns, 10th in completion percentage and seventh in passer rating. Wilson’s touchdown-to-interception ratio actually ranks fifth in the league, behind only MVP candidates Brock Purdy and Dak Prescott as well as potential Offensive Rookie of the Year in C.J. Stroud and four-time Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins.

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With that being said, any potential move for Wilson — and this would likely only happen if Mayfield were to sign elsewhere — would have to require the Broncos to absorb a large share of Wilson’s remaining deal. Following the conclusion of the 2023 season, Wilson is still owed $221 million through the 2028 season.

Why Buccaneers Are Better Off Re-Signing Baker Mayfield

By comparison, Mayfield is earning $4 million per season, which ranks 35th among all quarterbacks in the NFL and is actually tied with Broncos backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham and Seahawks backup Drew Lock in terms of salary. The move was beneficial for both parties as Mayfield was attempting to resurrect his career after spending time with three teams during 2022 and with the Buccaneers having a tight salary cap after spending generously during the Tom Brady era.

However, Mayfield has not only resurrected his career, he’s proved that he’s ready to be a franchise quarterback again. The 28-year-old has thrown for 24 touchdowns against 8 interceptions with 3,315 passing yards and a 94.7 passer rating. He ranks within the top 10 in both touchdowns and passer rating.

He’s also coming off of a historic game that saw him throw for 381 passing yards, 4 touchdown passes and a perfect 158.3 passer rating while leading the Buccaneers to a win over the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field in Week 15. Not only is he the first visiting QB to post a perfect rating at Lambeau Field, he’s just the third QB to do so on the road.

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Based upon his play this season, Mayfield’s market value is $16.5 million per season across two years at a total of slightly over $33 million. That’s a major increase over his current salary, but he’d still be just the 20th highest paid quarterback in the league.

With the Buccaneers in position to win the NFC South, a reunion between both sides makes sense. If Tampa Bay is willing to pay Mayfield around his market value, there’s little reason to pull off a trade for Wilson — who costs significantly more at an older age with roughly the same type of production.

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