TAMPA ― Baker Mayfield and Tristan Wirfs became fast friends after the Bucs quarterback arrived in Tampa Bay. They have been seen eating, drinking beers and attending Rays and Lightning games together.
The quarterback and left tackle will be hanging out again this week, only this time at the Pro Bowl.
Mayfield and Wirfs were added to the NFC roster and are headed to Orlando to participate in the week-long celebration of player skills featuring a new format that spotlights flag football.
It’s the culmination of a remarkable season for Mayfield, who led the Bucs to the NFC South title and a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
It’s also the first Pro Bowl selection for Mayfield, who set career highs with 4,044 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and a 64.3 completion percentage. Only he and Prescott threw 25 or more touchdown passes with 10 or fewer interceptions this season.
Meanwhile, Wirfs made a seamless transition from right to left tackle and continued to perform as one of the top offensive linemen in the league. It’s his third consecutive appearance in the Pro Bowl, first at left tackle.
Mayfield is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March, and nobody is lobbying harder for him to return to the Bucs than Wirfs.
“Oh, it’d be huge,” Wirfs said last week. “He knows, everyone knows how I feel about Baker. Bake’s a dawg. He’s been a great friend. It’s been awesome to build our relationship throughout the season. So, yeah, I really hope he’s back.”
Evans, a five-time Pro Bowler, also is due to become a free agent. Even at 30, he had one of the best seasons of his 10-year career — all with the Bucs — with 79 catches for 1,255 yards and 13 touchdowns, tying Tyreek Hill for most in the NFL.
“Mike’s got to be a Buccaneer for life,” Wirfs said last week. “I think he deserves that. That’s the way he should go out. He’s an incredible person. Guys look up to him. Guys in this locker room have been watching him since we were kids. It’s really cool to have him here.”
• • •
Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.