Baker Mayfield Makes 1 Admission on Career Before Buccaneers

Baker Mayfield

Getty Baker Mayfield admits he wasn't having fun playing football before the Buccaneers.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield acknowledged how bad of a spot he really was before he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the organization’s “In the Current” video recap of the season released on Wednesday.

“I had lost the joy of football,” Mayfield said in the video.

Mayfield had a rough 2022 before he joined the Buccaneers in March 2023. A former No. 1 pick in 2018 out of Oklahoma, Mayfield fell from burgeoning stardom to castaway with the Cleveland Browns.

“My journey has not been the one that I exactly envisioned – a lot of ups and downs – but just trusting it. Adversity and how you handle it is really a true test of character,” Mayfield told reporters on March 13 when he re-signed with the team.

The Browns opted to trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson with the Houston Texans in March 2022 after Mayfield’s play regressed in 2021 amid a shoulder injury. Mayfield took the Browns to the playoffs the year before in 2020 and led the team to the franchise’s first playoff win since 1994 that year.

After the Browns landed Watson, the team sent Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers in July 2022 for a conditional fifth-round selection in 2024. Mayfield’s time in Charlotte went poorly as he completed 57.8% of his passes for 1,313 yards and six touchdowns versus six interceptions.

Carolina released him in December 2022, but he got a shot with the Los Angeles Rams, which needed a quarterback with Matthew Stafford sidelined due to injury. Mayfield made the most of his chance as he completed 63.6% of his passes for 850 yards and four touchdowns versus two interceptions.

Buccaneers Had a ‘Good Place’ for Baker Mayfield

Opportunity came Mayfield’s way in 2023 when quarterback Tom Brady retired from the Buccaneers, which had more than $50 million over the salary cap that year. Mayfield’s arrival on a one-year, $4 million deal came at the right time for the cap-strapped Buccaneers, too.

“Trusting in yourself and believing in yourself and having that confidence and trusting in God that you have everything you’re capable of and you have it all right there available for you, so just go do that and be the best version of yourself,” Mayfield told reporters. “For me, this was a good place that has already shown me that I can do that.”

Baker Mayfield Navigated Rough Start to a Career Year

His 2023 season had its ups and downs early, which included a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season. Mayfield righted the ship as he led the team to an NFC South title and a Division Round game against the Detroit Lions.

Also a Pro Bowler for 2023, Mayfield  finished the season with a 64.3% completion rate, 4,044 yards, and 28 touchdowns — all career highs. Mayfield also had a 94.6 quarterback rating, the second best of his career.

“From the very beginning, the organization made me comfortable in saying, ‘Be the best version of yourself.’ As a quarterback, somebody that you always have eyes on you, there’s no other words that can make you feel more welcomed than that,” Mayfield told reporters. “For me, just trying to do the little things right. Once the play is there, then you can really let the energy, the character, and all of that rub off on everybody else. For me, just knowing that if you play good ball and you trust the guys around you, good things will happen.”

It all earned him a three-year, $100 million deal with the team in March. While Mayfield could have taken more money elsewhere, he called his opportunity with the Buccaneers as “life-changing money” after re-signing with the team.

“We know the pieces that we have. We’re capable of winning a Super Bowl,” Mayfield told reporters. “You set that standard and you don’t let anybody dip below that line. For us, we have a lot of the same guys coming back. We were there. Once you get a taste of losing in the playoffs, it makes you driven even more.”