Mayfield signed with the Bucs this offseason and appeared to be the front-runner to take over the starting role for the franchise, which is looking to transition from future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. But Mayfield will have to fend off former second-round pick Kyle Trask, who has been making some waves during training camp.
“The first couple of days, I think the experience that Baker brings — just playing in games, being in camps, going through installs — you know, you can see where the offense was gelling really well,” Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales told reporters on August 2. “The timing of the snap is really critical for us, so probably a little bit of an edge for Baker to start off, just in terms of the smoothness of the offense. But it just took a couple of days for Kyle to really settle in. And then what we saw in the last two practices, Kyle really showed what he can do: stretching the field with his arm, getting the ball out quickly, making decisions. I am really excited about both of those guys and the progression that they have made throughout the last couple of days.”
According to Sports Illustrated, Trask went three straight days without an interception and is “standing out” with his ability to get his “passes past the first level of defense.”
“[T]hose who changed the channel from the Mayfield vs. Trask training camp battle might want to give it another look,” David Harrison of SI’s BucsGameday wrote on August 3. “And settle in with your snack of choice, because this fight may go the distance.”
And there’s a third option as well, per Canales, who heaped praise on John Wolford, the fourth-year passer signed as a free agent after three years with the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t leave John Wolford out of the deal, too,” Canales said. “He wants to make plays and he has his own style of doing it. He brings a lot to the table too, so it is a really good competitive cauldron that we are creating in there.”
Baker Mayfield Has Had Rough Run Since Leaving Browns
Unfortunately, his time in Carolina was marked by adversity and he lost his starting spot. Despite the setbacks, Mayfield didn’t give up. After parting ways with the Panthers, he found a fresh opportunity with the Rams. It was there that he began to find his stride again and showed some of the Mayfield magic that made him the top pick in the 2018 draft.
Less than 48 hours after joining the Rams, Mayfield took on the lion’s share of reps during a Thursday Night Football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, sparking a comeback in the fourth quarter. In five games, Mayfield passed for 850 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions with the Rams.
He was able to parlay the momentum from his stint with the Rams into a new opportunity, but he clearly has some work to do if he wants to continue to be a starter.
Browns QB Deshaun Watson Needs Bounce Back Year
The Browns have their unquestioned starter in Watson, and he enters next season with high expectations. Watson left something to be desired last season after playing the final six games for the Browns after serving an 11-game suspension. Cleveland went 3-3 in his starts and Watson — who led the league in passing yards in 2020 — completed 58.2% of his throws for 1,102 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.
But with the distraction of a suspension out of the way and a full offseason under his belt, Watson is feeling confident heading into the new year.
“I’m in a different space,” Watson said on July 23. “Having an opportunity to go into the season, full offseason locked in and focused definitely feels good and I want to continue to keep channeling and cherishing all that energy. Positive energy that has been spread around this organization, the city and myself.”