11:45 PM ET

The NFL recognizes that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead should have been penalized for a hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield on Sunday, a source familiar with the league’s thinking said Tuesday.

Whitehead could have been flagged for one of two infractions: unnecessary roughness for a hit to the head of a sliding player or unsportsmanlike conduct for using his helmet to hit a player, the source said.

The numbers show that Mayfield is struggling at times, but so are the other rookie QBs. And the stats don’t tell the whole story.

The NFL is not commenting on the hit. Fines are typically announced on Fridays. If the league fines Whitehead, it will be public affirmation that the play should have been penalized.

The hit occurred in the Bucs’ 26-23 overtime win on Sunday. Mayfield slid at the end of a 35-yard run on second-and-26 in the fourth quarter. Shortly after Mayfield’s knee hit the ground, Whitehead’s helmet hit the side of Mayfield’s head.

Whitehead lowered his head to make the hit and used the crown of his helmet. Both are textbook examples of what the league does not want and are

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