Ex-Browns QB Baker Mayfield Sounds Off on Next Challenge

Baker Mayfield

Getty Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield hasn’t lost his frisky personality despite going through a tumultuous patch of his career.

Mayfield was the former top overall pick of the Browns in 2018 but was traded away last season after the acquisition of Deshaun Watson. Mayfield moved on to the Carolina Panthers but lost his starting spot and was later released. He had a successful stint with the Los Angeles Rams as a spot starter and likely saved his career.

There is some doubt around Mayfield and the new-look Bucs, with ESPN ranking them 30th in their Football Power Index. Tampa Bay is ahead of only the Arizona Cardinals — who will be without franchise quarterback Kyler Murray for most of the year — and the Houston Texans.

As he always has, Mayfield is embracing the haters.

“I played in this division last year and pretty sure the Bucs won it still,” Mayfield said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t really care what the people in Vegas are putting odds on because it’s May. We haven’t played real tackle football. We’ve got a long way to go. It’s just the time of year where everybody springs forward. … It makes it fun. We haven’t played real, tackle football. It seems like a no BS squad that’s all about winning.”

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Mayfield hasn’t locked up the starting role and it will likely be a tight competition with Kyle Trask, who was a second-round pick of the Bucs in 2021.

“I think Kyle and Baker have both done a great job so far,” Bucs receiver Chris Godwin said. “It’s like a friendly competition. There’s no animosity. You see them helping each other. They talk through a bunch of things. I think we have a really good environment on our team right now and I think we’re really trying to pull the rope in the same direction.”

Mayfield showed glimpses of being a franchise quarterback with the Browns, helping lead the team to their first postseason berth in nearly two decades in 2020. But a shoulder injury contributed to some inconsistent play the following year, with Mayfield passing for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. It ultimately led to the Browns deciding to go in a different direction with Watson.

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Watson had his own interesting journey with the Browns last season. He was suspended for the first 11 games and had to knock off some very visible rust during his six starts. Watson completed 58.2% of his passes for 1,102 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback has a different set of expectations for this season and is feeling much more comfortable in Cleveland.

“I have a vision that me, the staff and this organization want to go in. Last year, it was just a whirlwind, but it was a good learning lesson for myself and for me to be able to grow,” Watson said on April 18. “Coming in this year, I’m ahead of the game from where I was previously.”

Watson and the Browns came in at No. 17 in ESPN’s Football Power Index rankings.

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