Does Dave Canales departure mean end for Baker Mayfield with Buccaneers?

Dave Canales is leaving Baker Mayfield behind after one great year together in Tampa Bay.

Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

All good things must come to an end. For Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there are no guarantees now that he will be back in Gulf Coast Florida for a second season. Mayfield had one of his best seasons as a professional playing for Todd Bowles' Buccaneers. While he may have loved his time playing for him, his former offensive coordinator is now leading a division rival over in Charlotte.

With the Carolina Panthers hiring Dave Canales to be their next head coach, that leaves us with more questions than answers regarding Mayfield. Canales' starting quarterback next year will be Bryce Young, a fellow former No. 1 overall pick and a Heisman Trophy winner out of a college football blue-blood. Mayfield is a starting quarterback in this league as well, so Carolina is not an option for him.

The other big takeaway from the Panthers hiring Canales is Mayfield spent part of the 2022 NFL season playing for Matt Rhule and later Steve Wilks in Charlotte. He finished his first season away from the Cleveland Browns with the Los Angeles Rams. Frankly, it may serve him to catch on with a Sean McVay disciple because following Canales to Charlotte will be as awkward as it would be clunky.

So if Carolina is not an option for Mayfield, where does he go in free agency? Is he staying in Tampa?

Dave Canales' Tampa Bay departure leaves Baker Mayfield sort of in limbo

Prior to arriving in Tampa Bay, Canales had long been an offensive assistant under Pete Carroll on the Seattle Seahawks. With Carroll out in Seattle, we need to turn our attention to former Seahawks coordinators who are out there in the NFL today. There may be others, but I have arrived at three in particular: Shane Waldron, Darrell Bevell and Brian Schottenheimer. Are any of them in a good spot?

Waldron is taking over for Luke Getsy in Chicago. To me, it feels like the Bears are probably going to draft Caleb Williams No. 1 out of USC. They still have Justin Fields in-house, but for as good of a player as Mayfield can be, the Bears are not a fit for him.

Bevell is in Miami under Mike McDaniel. I don't hate that potential landing spot, but you have to remember that Tua Tagovailoa plays there.

And as far as Schottenheimer is concerned, he is calling the shots on the Dallas Cowboys. Mayfield grew up in Texas, so maybe the Austin native may love to play in DFW. The probelm with that is Dak Prescott is in the final year of his contract. Unless he wants to be traded out of town, Mayfield is not an option for America's Team. Then again, I think the chances of him going there are not impossible.

So with the Seattle/Canales options mostly cooked, let's turn our attention to a Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan disciple, so to speak. Mayfield looked pretty good at times running the McVay/Shanahan offense two years ago in Los Angeles. While he is not backing up Matthew Stafford on the Rams, I think it is increasingly likely that Mayfield will play for a McVay disciple or someone who knows him.

Right now, I think the these three other teams are very much in placy: Atlanta, Seattle, Washington. With Atlanta hiring Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Mayfield could flip in division and play for the Falcons. Again, Morris is well-respected and would bring with him a savvy offensive mind to run a variation of the McVay/Shanahan scheme. Maybe Zac Robinson will follow him to Atlanta?

Seattle feels like a pretty good landing spot for Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. He served under Carroll before taking over for Mike Smith in Atlanta. His most famous coordinator while leading the Falcons was Kyle Shanahan himself. He also crossed paths with another guy with Seattle connections in Schottenheimer. I really think Mayfield would do very well in the Pacific Northwest.

And for Washington, who knows what the Commanders want to do? I think they are in the running to get Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who may be down to either Atlanta or Washington. We will have a better feel for where he is leaning by this time next week. Since the Commanders have the No. 2 overall pick, I think their new head coach will prioritize starting their first-round rookie over him.

Now, we must turn our attention to places who need coordinators. I think the New England Patriots would be a disaster for him. Don't go there, dude. Don't! Cleveland is not an option and the Eagles are all set with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. While I think a Tampa return makes sense, I could see Mayfield going to either Pittsburgh, or especially Las Vegas, in free agency. The Raiders feels almost perfect.

In Pittsburgh, Mayfield would compete with Kenny Pickett for playing time, but I think he would butt heads with Mike Tomlin immediately upon arrival. Not to say it couldn't work, but these are two very headstrong people we are talking about. Plus, the Steelers feels like a program on the decline and not ascending like the Raiders. The Las Vegas fit is too good to pass up if they get the right coordinator.

Las Vegas has a head coach with a chip on his shoulder in Antonio Pierce. The Silver and Black have a ton of weapons. While I don't know how new general manager Tom Telesco feels about him, everybody with the Raiders has something to prove. They are too far back to get an elite quarterback, so why not sign the closest thing we've got to Ken Stabler in free agency? I don't hate this move at all.

So to bring this all back home, Mayfield returning to Tampa Bay is possible, but it depends entirely on who the Buccaneers hire as an offensive coordinator. While Atlanta makes some sense, I think the potential fits with teams like Seattle, Pittsburgh and especially Las Vegas are too good to overlook. My best bet is it will come down to the Buccaneers, Raiders or Seahawks for Mayfield's services.

Had the Buccaneers kept Canales, I would have been way more confident about Mayfield staying.

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