Baker Mayfield Won’t Be Tom Brady In Tampa But He’s Already Something Few Other QBs Have Been

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It was good that Baker Mayfield got the ghost of Tom Brady out of the way almost immediately when he was introduced as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers newest quarterback.

“Listen, I’m never going to be Tom Brady,” Mayfield said Monday, perhaps stating the obvious but also saying something that needed articulating.

“There’s a reason he has won so many Super Bowls – he’s the greatest of all time, there’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to try and be Tom, I’m going to be me. That’s what’s gotten me to this point. We’re going to do it differently but that’s what makes this league so special – everybody puts their own touch on it.

“It’s an honor to follow up somebody like that. The people that have played with him around here, I’m going to pick their brains as to the things he did. There’s no doubt about that. I’m excited. Like I said, it’s an organization that’s seen success and following a guy like that is special.”

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yells as he runs on the field prior to the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium on January 16, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Baker Mayfield Succeeds Tom Brady — Maybe

That out of the way, Mayfield now has a chance to be something Brady never was. And he has an opportunity to do something few quarterbacks ever get a chance to do.

Be the starting quarterback for four different NFL teams.

Mayfield is in Tampa because the Buccaneers want someone to compete with Kyle Trask. And unless Trask shows surprising gifts, Mayfield will have significant advantages in the competition.

He’s more experienced.

He’s more mobile., which will be important considering Tampa’s fluid offensive line situation.

That puts the 27-year-old Mayfield in a unique position. He could be a starter again. For a fourth team.

Even after washing out several previous times.

That simply doesn’t happen in the NFL.

ProFootballDoc: Thursday Night Football ATL vs CAR Advantages
ATLANTA, GA OCTOBER 30: Carolina quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) warms up prior to the start of the NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons on October 30th, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Buccaneers Give Mayfield Fourth Chance

Most guys get a chance with one team to be the anointed starter. And if they fail, the ride pretty much ends.

Look at JaMarcus Russell.

Colin Kaepernick.

Zach Wilson (so far).

Josh Rosen.

Gardner Minshew.

Some guys get a couple of opportunities. That list includes Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Tannehill, and even Jameis Winston.

Rare is the guy who gets an opportunity with three teams as their starting quarterback. It’s a list that doesn’t go much further than Carson Wentz.

But four teams?

Meet Baker Mayfield.

The man was the No. 1 overall selection of the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 draft. He was traded to Carolina last year. Then he was cut in time for the Rams to sign him and start him late in the season.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – JANUARY 08: Baker Mayfield #17 of the Los Angeles Rams throws the ball during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on January 08, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Baker Mayfield Says He’s ‘Grown’

Now Mayfield has to find a way to be a .250 hitter and not mess up this fourth opportunity to start.

“Just talking to some of the coaches around here and some of the staff, like I said, it’s not how I drew my career up, by any means,” Mayfield said. “If I were to tell you how it would go based on the plan, I wouldn’t have said that I put on three different uniforms in the year 2022. But that’s how it happens.

“You’ve got to learn from it, roll with the punches, trust in God’s plan. I’ve grown a lot – I appreciate all the things that have happened throughout my journey and it’s helped me get here today. I want to play this [sport] as long as I can, so I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way.”

That’s good. Because improvement from those lessons will be necessary if Mayfield’s career is going to change course.

In his first five seasons he’s been an inconsistent player on mostly bad teams. Yes, there was that encouraging season in 2020. He threw 26 TDs to 8 interceptions and the Browns went to the playoffs with an 11-5 record that season.

But those same Browns were done with Mayfield one season later. And the Panthers were done with him after only six starts last season.

Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs for a touchdown reception against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Buccaneers Still Have A Lot Of Talent

So the opportunities are becoming more fleeting. And did I mention this is the last for Mayfield as an NFL starter?

That’s why his choice of the Buccaneers — and their choice of him — is so meaningful.

This team, unlike the Browns or Panthers or even last season’s injury depleted Rams, have a chance to be something. Whatever you think of their flaws, the Buccaneers have been to the playoffs the past three seasons. The expectation is they could contend in the NFC South if they stay healthy.

“It was important to me to be in a place that’s stable and knows how to win, knows how to do it properly,” Mayfield said. “I’ve gotten to see different things from my journey that is not exactly how I drew it up. It’s helped along the way, especially in making a decision like this. I wanted to go somewhere where we can win right away and this is that place.”

Yes, Mayfield has to beat out Trask. If he can’t do that, he better get used to the idea of being a career backup.

But Mayfield doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t view this as a make-or-break situation.

“Not necessarily make or break,” he said. “I view it as the start of my next chapter – whatever that might be. Whether it’s for longer years to come here in Tampa or whatever it is – I’m building my resume. “

The Bucs have Mayfield on a one-year contract. If he wins the starting job and plays well, they’ll obviously be eager to keep him longer.

If he struggles as he has previously, well, that’s up to Mayfield.

“So how can I better my résumé this year and how can I make sure that it’s going to benefit my future? We’ll see,” Mayfield said. “I’m not in control of that. I’ve learned that over the first five years of my career – just do the best I can right now and see where it goes.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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  1. Mayfield is different than most of those other guys on the list. The fact is he only failed at Carolina. Given the Browns miserable history he was unquestionably a success there but got thrown under the bus by an incompetent staff. And given the awful state of the Rams when he was picked up, I’d call 2-3 (should have been 3-2 if not for the ref ball at Seattle) a success.

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