In 12 days, Baker Mayfield will be free to sign with any franchise including the Los Angeles Rams as the free agency signing period officially kicks off. Now, along with the Rams and Sean McVay, one insider on Friday, March 3 mentioned Mayfield as a potential fit for two new suitors spearheaded by Super Bowl head coaches — who both find themselves in the market of needing depth at quarterback.
NFL insider Jeff Howe of The Athletic dove into what he’s learned about Mayfield’s free agent market on Friday, March 3. While Howe points out that Mayfield would want to be at a place where he can compete for the starting job, he revealed these two new potential suitors: The San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos — which would put him with two-time NFC champion Kyle Shanahan and Super Bowl 44 winner Sean Payton, respectively.
“Mayfield’s best options could be returning to the Rams or joining the 49ers or Broncos. All three teams have successful, offensive-minded head coaches and starting quarterbacks who missed time due to injury during the 2022 season,” Howe said.
Weighing Both Places
Both are considered surprise suitors for Mayfield.
In regards to the 49ers, they feature two QBs who haven’t reached their fourth NFL season together. Mayfield would become the oldest one there — and the possible No. 3.
Although, Trey Lance is coming off a broken ankle injury and now, the Niners are dealing with Brock Purdy needing to heal from his injured elbow ligament from the NFC title game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles — hence the sudden need for a QB regardless of available free agent or draft choice.
The 49ers’ offense happens to be structured the same way as McVay’s offense. After all, Shanahan and McVay share the Washington connection as former assistants together. Playing in that offense may not be considered a major adjustment for Mayfield other than maybe getting down the verbiage of each play call.
But again, Mayfield wouldn’t walk in positioning himself as the starter with the 49ers drafting Lance in the top five then the sudden emergence of “Mr. Irrelevant.” Meanwhile, the 49ers had a meeting with UCLA dual-threat QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, which the draft prospect revealed Friday at the Combine to Jordan Elliott of SB Nation.
As for Denver, Payton worked with a similar QB of Mayfield’s stature in Drew Brees and ended up turning him into a perennial 3,000-yard passer. But again, Mayfield would walk in not guaranteed to be the No. 1 with Russell Wilson back. The Broncos could also pivot to day two of the draft to fill some depth. Still, Howe believes Mayfield would be in a good spot at either the Rams, 49ers or Broncos.
“At a minimum, Mayfield would get an extra season of strong coaching in Los Angeles (Sean McVay), San Francisco (Kyle Shanahan) or Denver (Sean Payton). And if the starter goes down again, it’d put Mayfield in a better situation to succeed if he’s called upon,” Howe said.
Who Else are Surprise Options? One Possibility Just Opened
There’s still the belief the Rams will be the former 2018 first round pick’s NFL home for 2023 — which will prevent Mayfield from playing in his fourth different NFL offense since July 2022. It’ll also keep him with McVay and his system while also being in the same room with another past top pick in Matthew Stafford.
However, Howe mentioned one possible suitor that recently created a QB opening: The Washington Commanders.
Carson Wentz is officially out after being released by the team Wednesday. Sam Howell currently has the title of QB1. However, Taylor Heinicke is another free agent who could walk — which could add another opening in D.C. Even more appealing for Mayfield if he considers Washington: The new offensive coordinator is multiple Super Bowl winner with the Kansas City Chiefs Eric Bieniemy. Mayfield would also play for Super Bowl winner and past NFC champion with the Carolina Panthers Ron Rivera.
Time will tell in less than two weeks where Mayfield ends up. But he’s got a good chance to play for someone with Super Bowl experience.