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Baker Mayfield discusses future following loss to Lions: I can't say enough about this organization

Baker Mayfield's emotions were raw on Sunday after a game-ending interception sealed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' fate in a 31-23 loss to the Detroit Lions in the Divisional Round.

"It sucks. I feel like my heart just got ripped out," Mayfield said after the game.

The quarterback did his best to keep the Bucs in the contest as the defense struggled in the second half. Mayfield completed 26 of 41 passes for 349 yards and three touchdown tosses. But two interceptions and four sacks taken proved massive for the NFC South champs.

As he has all season, Mayfield battled through adversity, making key throws, bouncing off pass rushers, and giving the Bucs a chance to pull off an improbable comeback. The big miscues, however, will sting.

It's not hyperbole to suggest the Bucs wouldn't have been in Sunday's game without Mayfield's play this season. Rolling back expenses in the aftermath of the Tom Brady era, Tampa gave the former No. 1 overall pick a prove-it deal in the offseason. Mayfield earned every cent and more.

The QB hopes to return to Tampa in 2024.

"I love this group. I said that all year, and it's authentic," Mayfield said. "I mean that. It would mean a lot for me to bring back a lot of key pieces to get this back together and to get it in Year 2 in the system. You can make huge strides. I would love that, obviously. Who knows how it's going to play out, but can't say enough about this organization for the opportunity they gave me this year. Just thankful and so hoping it works out."

One key future free agent Mayfield hopes joins him in a return to Tampa is Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans, who generated eight catches for 147 yards and a TD on Sunday.

"He's a stud. I mean, the guy hasn't regressed at all," Mayfield said of his 30-year-old wideout. "As much as everybody wants to talk about his age, I think he had one of his best years. He makes my life easy. He did all year, and he did it today over and over again. He's one of those pieces that, yeah, to get everybody back, there has to be sacrifices made, and this team's about winning. We have a group full of guys that they were all about that. It's not about individual guys. It's not about that. So, that's what's made it special. But yeah, if I'm back, I want Mike back. That guy's a stud."

Every team undergoes change each offseason, but Bucs general manager Jason Licht stares at some massive decisions in the coming months. 

Head coach Todd Bowles agreed that Mayfield has earned the right to return.

 "Yeah, he most definitely has," Bowles said. "Obviously, it's too early to talk about that, and business is business, but Baker had a helluva year. We love him, the guys love him and then we'll see what the future holds."

The franchise tag for QBs is projected to be nearly $36 million in 2024, per Over The Cap.

In a league constantly needing quality QBs, Mayfield made himself millions this season, even if the Bucs came up shy on Sunday.

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