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Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have recently expressed interest in sticking together after a productive 2023 season for both the quarterback and the team. Now the two sides have actually begun contract negotiations, according to the Tampa Bay Times, with free agency around the corner.

Although an extension is reportedly not imminent, "preliminary talks" are underway, with Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht expected to ramp up discussions with Mayfield's agent, Tom Mills, at the NFL Scouting Combine.

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Mayfield previously hinted at the Pro Bowl that Mills had spoken with Bucs brass about a new deal, while downplaying the notion he'd personally been involved in the discussions.

"My agent and them, I think they engaged a little bit," Mayfield said at the time, "but obviously when [offensive coordinator Dave] Canales left -- and [I'm] happy for him as well, getting the head coaching job; he deserves that -- but when they started the OC search, I think they [knew] that we gotta know who's calling plays before anything's done."

Since then, the Buccaneers have replaced Canales, now the Carolina Panthers head coach, with former University of Kentucky and Los Angeles Rams assistant Liam Cohen. Mayfield has a history with Cohen from his 2022 stop in L.A., suggesting Tampa Bay made the hire with the veteran signal-caller in mind.

In the event extensions talks don't materialize into a new deal, the Bucs can still restrict Mayfield from hitting free agency by exercising the franchise tag -- a one-year, fully guaranteed contract worth a projected $36 million. Still, the team has other key veterans set to hit the open market in wide receiver Mike Evans, linebacker Lavonte David and safety Antoine Winfield Jr., so it stands to reason they'd prefer to lock up their quarterback before free agency's negotiating period opens March 11.