From Without A Team To $100 Million: Baker Mayfield’s Incredible Redemption Story


Few players have had a career as up-and-down as Baker Mayfield. The Cleveland Browns took him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2018. For a few seasons, he was a star in Cleveland. He led the team to the playoffs during the 2020 season, which also included a playoff victory over Cleveland’s rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. After Mayfield struggled in 2021, the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson and gave their new quarterback $230 million guaranteed. Mayfield now found himself without a squad.

He joined the Carolina Panthers in 2022, then requested they release him after six games. He finished that season with the Los Angeles Rams, a team whose starting quarterback (Matthew Stafford) was hurt. The Rams had already given up on the season, and Mayfield was merely helping them play out the string.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were looking for a replacement for Tom Brady. They opted for Mayfield, though it seemed like the plan was to have him fill in for the year and then look to rebuild either through the draft or another solution. His base salary was $4 million, with a few extra million in incentives thrown in.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

But then Mayfield led the Buccaneers to an NFC Division title and a playoff win. Now, he’s staying in Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future after signing a three-year, $100 million deal.

Last season led to several career highs for Mayfield. He threw for 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns, finishing with a 64.3% completion percentage. He’ll look to improve upon those numbers now that he’s Tampa Bay’s signal-caller moving forward.

The NFC South is also shaping up to once again be a winnable division. Sure, the Atlanta Falcons signed Kirk Cousins to a massive deal (worth even more than Mayfield’s contract), but they’ll also be working with a new head coach. Mayfield and Tampa Bay have a great shot to win another division title and make a run toward a Super Bowl if things break the right way.

Regardless of what happens this season, what a story. From no team at all to nine figures — it’s been an incredible run for Mayfield.

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