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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baker Mayfield: "Now Is Not The Time To Be Satisfied"

Sixth-year veteran Baker Mayfield discusses his starting quarterback role and forward focus behind the podium on Tuesday

Baker Mayfield QB

On Tuesday at the AdventHealth Training Center, Head Coach Todd Bowles silenced the perpetual debate monopolizing headlines across the NFL landscape with one statement: "Baker Mayfield is the starting quarterback." 

Mayfield will be under center when the Buccaneers take on the Vikings in Week One at U.S. Bank Stadium, ending a competition for the vacant role with third-year man Kyle Trask. 

"Coach Bowles came up to me this morning and told me that he had talked to Kyle already and informed me that they are going to roll with me," Mayfield said. "Now, I just have to lead like I know how and the real thing [regular season] is right around the corner. It is an exciting time.

"To be able to be on a platform now with a great franchise and to earn the job is an unbelievable feeling. You never want to take those for granted. I am one of 32 guys who can say they are a starting quarterback in the NFL, so it is a special honor. I am living out a dream but now is not the time to be satisfied." 

Mayfield started the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers and completed eight of nine passes for 63 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions over the course of four possessions. He did not play against the Jets during the ensuing week, but Bowles confirmed Mayfield will start and play the first half in the preseason finale versus Baltimore at Raymond James Stadium. 

The Oklahoma product's path in the NFL has not been conventional. Undeterred by the ups and downs, his resolve never wavered, stretching beyond what is typical. That 'never-thwarted' mentality has become his guiding force. Heisman Trophy winner, Mayfield, was originally chosen No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft. Following four tumultuous years in Cleveland, the Browns traded Mayfield to Carolina last July and subsequently, he won the Panthers' starting job in a head-to-head battle with Sam Darnold. Mayfield started six games for Carolina in 2022, then another four for the Rams after being waived and claimed by Los Angeles. Overall, he has played in 72 regular season games with 69 starts, compiling a 31-38 record as a starter. 

During his five-year tenure in the NFL, including his 2022 stint with both the Panthers and the Rams, Mayfield has tallied 16,288 career passing yards, 102 touchdowns and 64 interceptions for a career 61.4% completion percentage. Mayfield has played for seven head coaches (two interim) during a five-year span. His best season came in 2020, as Mayfield compiled a 95.9 passer rating while throwing for 222.7 yards per game and 26 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He spearheaded Cleveland to an 11-5 record and the club's first playoff win in 26 years.

Now, he will take command of the Bucs' offense boasting one of the NFL's most heralded receiver tandems in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and its revamped offensive system under Dave Canales. The man with the moxie has showcased quick processing skills from read to read, accuracy at all three levels and the ability to extend plays on scrambles/bootlegs. Mayfield unleashes a fiery demeanor when he steps onto the field, fueled by a voracious love of the game and the chip on his shoulder. Despite the constant external noise throughout the offseason linked to the quarterback battle in Tampa Bay, Mayfield stayed true to himself, emboldened by confidence. 

"I expect to be the starter," Mayfield described. "I know how talented I am and what type of leader I am. Now, it is time for the real thing, so we are about to have the real games, and everybody is excited here." 

As the Buccaneers run out of the tunnel on September 10th, Mayfield will lead the charge, striving for reinvigoration. But this day in August, for this quarterback, marks a new beginning.

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