New Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield comes in with a chip on his shoulder, but he won’t aim too high in succeeding retired quarterback Tom Brady.
“Listen, I’m never going to be Tom Brady,” Mayfield told reporters on Monday, March 20. “There’s a reason why he’s won so many Super Bowls. He’s the greatest of all time — there’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to try to be Tom. I’m going to be me. That’s what’s gotten me to this point. We’re going to do it differently.”
Brady came into the league as an unheralded sixth-round draft pick by the New England Patriots in 2000 but went on to win seven Super Bowls, including one with the Bucs, in a 23-year career. Mayfield entered the league as a touted No. 1 pick in 2018 but bounced around the league in 2022 after the Cleveland Browns traded him — the franchise he led to a playoff win for the first time since since 1994. Mayfield officially signed with the Bucs as a free agent on Monday.
“But that’s what makes this league so special. Everybody puts their own touch on it,” Mayfield added. “It’s an honor to follow up somebody like that. And I’m definitely — the people that played with him around here, I’m going to pick their brains for things he did, there’s no doubt about that. So, I’m excited.”
Mayfield Sees a Winner in Tampa Bay
Mayfield wants to build on what Brady did with the Bucs — the franchise’s most successful three-year stretch ever. The Bucs won a Super Bowl, won back-to-back NFC South division titles and made three playoff appearances with Brady under center.
“An organization like this, that’s had success, obviously, for a while and in recent years as well — it was important to me to be in a place that’s stable and knows how to win, knows how to do it properly,” Mayfield said. “I’ve gotten to see different things from my journey that’s not exactly how I drew it up. But, it’s helped along the way, especially to make a decision like this.”
“And I want to go somewhere that we can win right away and this is that place,” Mayfield added.
Mayfield Not Deterred by Career Downturn
Mayfield spent his first four seasons with the Browns, which exercised an $18.85 million fifth-year option in 2021. He injured his shoulder that year, and the Browns traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson and traded away Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers in 2022. That’s despite Mayfield’s success with a Browns franchise that didn’t have a winning season since 2007 before his arrival.
Things didn’t work out for Mayfield in Carolina as the team benched him and released him. Mayfield finished the season with the Los Angeles Rams and threw for 850 yards and four touchdowns versus two interceptions in four starts as injured starter Matthew Stafford remained sidelined.
“I learned a lot from it I still believed in myself like that’s the only way I was able to, to get through it and finish on somewhat of a high note like real life, and, yeah, I’m thankful for all the experience to have gone through and that’s what’s gotten me here so ready for the next chapter,” Mayfield said.