Ex-Browns QB Baker Mayfield Makes Final Call on NFL Future

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has a new home.

Mayfield agreed to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday. He will compete with 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask to be the team’s starter next season and successor to Tom Brady.

The last year has been tumultuous for Mayfield. After some up and down seasons with the Browns, the former No. 1 overall pick was replaced by Deshaun Watson. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers but struggled, leading to a December release.

With his future in limbo, he signed with the Los Angeles Rams, which gave him a new lease on life in the NFL. He led an astounding comeback in his first apperance in a Rams uniform on Thursday Night Football against the Raiders and put together some decent tape overall. Mayfield completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 850 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions while with the Rams

Mayfield’s deal with the Bucs is for a maximum of $8.5 million, which is likely contingent on if he starts games. His deal starts at $4 million, a source told ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

Mayfield has faced some adversity in his career but has no doubt that he can still lead a team as their starting quarterback.

“I know I’m good enough to be a starting quarterback,” Mayfield said while with the Rams. “I have no doubt about that.”

Jacoby Brissett Still Weighing Options

Another quarterback the Bucs were looking at was Jacoby Brissett, who started 11 games for the Browns last season with Watson suspended. Brissett has yet to find a new team but has generated some interest, including some from the Philadelphia Eagles. The defending NFC champs’ interest in Brissett comes via Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston.

If Brissett were to sign with the Eagles, it would be to backup Pro Bowler Jalen Hurts. That might not be ideal for Brissett, who was adamant last season that he felt he could be a full-time starter in the NFL.

“I’m a starting quarterback in this league — I can confidently say that,” Brissett said at the end of his 11-game stint with the Browns. “Hopefully, a team turns on the tape, and they watch and they see that.”

Brissett outplayed expectations while filling in for Watson, despite the team’s 4-7 record with him as the starter. He completed 64% of his passes for 2,608 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, also establishing himself as a leader in the locker room.

“Jacoby has been amazing for us,” running back Nick Chubb said. “He’s a great person overall and a very good player. He’s done a lot of great things here. I love him. I love playing beside him. It’s been great playing beside him. I know this last game he’s going to give it his all for us.”

Browns Need to Address Backup QB Spot

It appears unlikely Brissett will remain in Cleveland, which leaves a noticeable hole on the depth chart behind Watson. The Browns have not been scared to spend on backup QBs in the past like Brissett and Case Keenum before him. However, with the team all-in on Watson, it seems unlikely that they’d splurge on an established veteran.

An option for the Browns is to roll with what they have, which is former third-round pick Kellen Mond. Cleveland scooped up Mond during final roster cutdowns last season after he was released by the Minnesota Vikings. He did not see any time with the Browns last season but is clearly a developmental player the team likes.

When asked about the prospect of Mond backing up Watson, head coach Kevin Stefanski said it was too early to rule it out.

“I think all options are available to us there with young players, obviously Kellen hasn’t played in that setting, but we’ll see how far he comes along to say that he can’t win that job,” Stefanski said at the combine. “I don’t think it’s fair to say that on March 1. I think he’s a young player that we need to see certainly more of.”

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