When the legendary Tom Brady retired for good after the conclusion of the 2022 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed a quarterback right away. So they decided to take a flyer on Baker Mayfield, who in five previous seasons had shown glimpses of greatness but hadn’t put it all together.
Mayfield’s play this season has been somewhat up and down, and the same has been true of the play of the Buccaneers as a team. They won three of their first four games, then they lost their next four in a row before a solid showing against the Tennessee Titans last weekend.
In that game, Mayfield completed 18 of 29 passes and threw two touchdown passes for the third straight game in a 20-6 win. Afterward, head coach Todd Bowles praised him and expressed gratitude for having him on the squad.
“I think it was a great fit,” Bowles said during his first press conference of the week. “It’s extremely fortunate for both of us – it was a great fit for us. For him, coming here, understanding the offense and doing what he’s down right now – we could have never imagined. We thought about it – we thought we could see it, but it’s coming true and it’s coming to fruition.
“I’m glad he’s happy here because we’re happy with him. I think it’s a great marriage.”
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In the past, Mayfield, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft by the Cleveland Browns, has been turnover-prone. But he has just five interceptions so far this season, and his 1.6 percent interception rate ties a career low.
“Baker has been playing well for us,” Bowles said. “He really has been playing the quarterback position well. He’s a very smart player. He doesn’t get enough credit for his intelligence – going somewhere with the football, not just gritty and tough, which everybody uses. He’s been playing very good football and we’re very happy about that.”
On the season, Mayfield has completed 64.6 percent of his pass attempts and accumulated 2,143 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes. He isn’t exactly the second coming of Brady, but he has been solid and, dare it be said — steady.
As Tampa Bay signed him to a one-year contract during the offseason, he will become a free agent after the end of this season’s playoffs. If it wants to keep the 28-year-old around, it will have to invest money and multiple years into him. It will be interesting to see how enamored the Bucs will be with him once March rolls around and if they may have any better alternatives under center, either via free agency or the trade market.