In the aftermath of the Tom Brady era, few have pegged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as contenders in 2023.
New quarterback Baker Mayfield, who split time with the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams last season, could give a hoot about the perception of the Bucs' chances.
"I played in this division last year, and pretty sure the Bucs won it still," Mayfield said Tuesday. "I don't really care what the people in Vegas are putting odds on it because it's May. We haven't played a real snap of football. There's a long way to go before that. It's just the time of year where everybody's pretty bored and they don't really have much to talk about. It makes it fun.
"This is a great group. It seems like a no B.S. squad that's all about winning."
The Bucs are an odd amalgam. There is veteran talent, like a good WR trio in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage. The defense was able to retain defensive stalwarts Lavonte David and Jamel Dean. But there is little young talent that sparks intrigue and excitement.
It feels as if Tampa is running back the same 8-9 club that won the NFC South last year but swapping Brady for Mayfield. The QB downgrade is a primary reason for the lack of trust outside of Tampa in offseason projections. The lack of depth throughout the roster also is troubling.
Before he can prove the naysayers wrong in the fall, Mayfield must beat out third-year greenhorn Kyle Trask for the starting QB gig. Mayfield should have the edge over a player who has thrown nine total career passes, but coach Todd Bowles won't make any declarations until much later this summer.
"It's shorts and T-shirts," Bowles said. "I'm not going to sit here and crown or belittle anybody right now on one day of practice. But (Mayfield is) picking up the scheme well, he's doing all the necessary things individually, and he's making progress.
"I think (Mayfield and Trask) work well together. They help each other out. So it's a healthy competition, and I think that will take care of itself."
That uncertainty at QB is a big reason folks outside of Tampa aren't enamored with the Bucs' chances. And, sure, Baker, we're a smidge bored, too.