A player who featured for the 2022 edition of the Carolina Panthers “who didn’t want to be named so he could speak freely” touched upon why quarterback Baker Mayfield found a new life for his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he flopped as a member of the Panthers last season.
“I would say we didn’t play to Baker’s strengths,” that player told Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer. “I always felt like his best year (with the Cleveland Browns), there was a lot of rollout and getting Baker on the move. Shifts. Motions. Movement. I always felt like we were fairly stagnant (during Mayfield’s time running the offense), and Baker stayed in the pocket.”
The Browns traded Mayfield to the Panthers in July 2022, and he ultimately went 1-5 as a starter before Carolina released him in December of that year. Even before the Los Angeles Rams became the only team to place a waiver claim for Mayfield, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN mentioned that teams he talked to at the time said the 28-year-old’s “days as an NFL starter could be numbered.”
Mayfield proved such doubters wrong this season when he helped the Buccaneers win the NFC South division title with a 9-8 record. He then completed 22 of 36 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns to guide Tampa Bay to an impressive 32-9 wild-card victory over the Philadelphia Eagles this past Monday night.
Former Panthers quarterback and current team radio analyst Jake Delhomme told Scott Fowler that Mayfield has benefitted from playing alongside “a Hall of Fame receiver in Mike Evans” with Tampa Bay. Delhomme also acknowledged that the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft is “playing with confidence now” and has embraced an “I’m going to throw the football and let it fly” mentality.
Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles made a similar comment earlier this week when he said that it’s “great seeing Baker be Baker.”
Mayfield and the Buccaneers next play at the Detroit Lions in the divisional round of the postseason tournament this Sunday. As of early Thursday evening, DraftKings Sportsbook listed Tampa Bay as a 6.5-point road underdog for that contest.