National Football League
New Bucs OC breaks down QB competition between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask
National Football League

New Bucs OC breaks down QB competition between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask

Published May. 10, 2023 2:44 p.m. ET

Baker Mayfield has a huge advantage in experience on Kyle Trask in the battle for the Bucs' starting quarterback job, but new offensive coordinator Dave Canales has seen the advantage in keeping an open competition for as long as possible.

"For me, it's a win-win when you create a competition," Canales said Wednesday, four weeks into Tampa Bay's offseason workouts. "Here's why: If you name a starter today, the backup guy starts thinking like that. But if you say this is a competition, we're going to allow [them] to go into the preseason, let them show us they can manage, to get us into the right play, to take care of the ball, that's going to be the determining factor, really.

"I would like to take it as far as I can. ... Like I told (general manager Jason Licht) early on, I will coach the crap out of whoever you give me, and whoever we decide to [start], but I'll have them both ready."

Mayfield, 28, has thrown for 16,288 passing yards and 102 touchdowns in five NFL seasons, the first four with the Browns, including their first playoff appearance in 18 years. The Bucs also want to give the 25-year-old Trask a chance. The 2021 second-round pick from Florida spent two years as a backup to Tom Brady and has attempted only nine passes in regular-season games.


Canales, a first-time NFL coordinator and playcaller, drew a parallel between this competition and what he had last year in Seattle, with a veteran in Geno Smith and a younger quarterback in Drew Lock, acquired in the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver. Smith won the starting job and had a breakout season at age 32, throwing for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns, but Canales said the job was still up for grabs entering the final preseason game.

"What I ended up getting out of Drew and Geno is two guys who had to mentally put themselves in a place where, 'I could be, I'm going to be the starter this year,'" Canales said. "They train that way all the way through the last game in the preseason. ... Game 1, I got a starter in Geno and I got a backup who's been thinking he's a starter for six months. Whoever won the job was going to be our starter, but the other guy was going to bring so much more value and confidence to our room."

Offensive line taking shape

The Bucs will have at least two new starters on the offensive line, with longtime starting left tackle Donovan Smith released and right guard Shaq Mason traded to the Texans. But the new line is starting to take shape, as run game coordinator Harold Goodwin and offensive line coach Joe Gilbert explained Wednesday.

Tristan Wirfs, a Pro Bowl selection the past two years at right tackle, is working at left tackle now in Smith's old spot and handling the transition well, the coaches said. Ryan Jensen, who missed the entire regular season last year with a significant knee injury but returned for the playoff loss to Dallas, has not been participating in voluntary workouts but will be a leader again from the middle.

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Veteran Matt Feiler, signed in free agency, looks to be the starter at left guard, and the Bucs continue to be pleased by what they have seen from Luke Goedeke at right tackle. Goedeke, a second-round pick a year ago, struggled at left guard but played well in a late-season cameo at tackle, where he played in college. If Goedeke can take hold at right tackle, Tampa would have good competition for the right guard spot between rookie Cody Mauch and two versatile young linemen in Robert Hainsey (last year's center) and Nick Leverett, who stepped in for Goedeke at left guard for much of last season.

"I'm just excited about the whole group in general," Goodwin said, stressing the importance of keeping everyone healthy after dealing with injuries throughout last season.

The potential for a new interior with Feiler, Jensen and Mauch could help the Bucs improve on what was the NFL's worst run game last year, finishing last in yards per game and yards per carry. Goodwin was pleased to get a text message from Jensen just minutes after Mauch was drafted out of North Dakota State, with three like-minded interior linemen eager to line up.

"I get a text from Ryan. He goes, ‘Me, him and Matt are going to eff some people up,’" Goodwin said. "So that right there gets me excited. I'm just happy to have big guys that eat up space. We look great when we get off the bus. I think of the good old days with Ali [Marpet] and [Alex] Cappa, big dudes with Ryan, along with Donnie. Just having big, girthy guys that can whup your butt. I'm excited about those days."

Greg Auman is FOX Sports’ NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.  

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