The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found their franchise quarterback and it's Baker Mayfield. The same Baker Mayfield who has played for three teams in the last two seasons, and is on his fourth team overall. It took some time but Mayfield has finally found a home in the NFL. Who would've thought that replacing Tom Brady would be that easy for the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers signed Mayfield back in March to a one-year contract for four million dollars. In short, a prove-it deal. It's safe to say that Mayfield bet on himself with this deal and it not only paid off this season but it will also get him paid once free agency begins in a few months. Mayfield has proven that prove-it deals do in fact work in the NFL.
So what exactly happened this season? In the first season without Tom Brady, the Buccaneers did slow down, but they found success. Being in the weakest division in football did help, but, that doesn't make this Tampa team weak. The Buccaneers went 9-8, thanks to the efforts of Baker Mayfield.
This season, Mayfield completed 64.3 percent of his passes for a career-high 4,044 yards, 28 touchdowns (career-high), and 10 interceptions. He also ran the ball 62 times for 163 times and 1 touchdown. His favorite target unsurprisingly was Mike Evans who is also in a contract year with the Buccaneers. Both quickly developed chemistry which led to Tampa Bay winning games and eventually winning their fourth straight division title.
Mayfield shined in the wild-card matchup against the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles. In this game, Mayfield went 22-36, throwing for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. This effort led Tampa Bay to a dominant 32-9 victory. Now, they're off to face the Detroit Lions.
Now, with all of that being said there is one major conclusion that can be said. Baker Mayfield owes gratitude to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for saving his career. Mayfield's career was on a fast downward spiral, but then he landed in Tampa and turned his career around. It wouldn't be surprising if other small-market teams like Tampa sign young unproven quarterbacks to one-year prove-it deals to see if they can also find their next franchise quarterback just like the Buccaneers.