Baker Mayfield is officially Tampa Bay-bound. Mayfield, the former Rams' signal-caller, signed his contract with the Buccaneers on Monday. Mayfield will compete with 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask for the team's starting role in 2023. Here are a few things that stood out from Mayfield' introductory press conference at the AdventHealth Training Center:
1) When asked about his decision-making in free agency, Mayfield explained why he ultimately chose to sign with Tampa Bay. Being a part of a club that "knows how to win," became the attributing factor.
"For me, [I was] honestly just trying to stay patient with it. I think as everybody else was thinking, it was kind of a domino effect with the quarterback market right now. I was just trying to wait and be patient and see what the best fit would be. With an organization like this, that has had success for a while, and in recent years as well – it was important to me to be in a place that's stable and knows how to win, knows how to do it properly. I've gotten to see different things from my journey that is not exactly how I drew it up. It's helped along the way, especially in making a decision like this. I want to go somewhere where we can win right away, and this is that place."
2) Mayfield officially signed with the Bucs on Monday morning and expressed his impression of the team's new offensive coordinator, Dave Canales. He shared his excitement to work with a coach who will strive to mold the offensive system around players' skillsets, maximizing individual strengths.
"In my short term of knowing Dave so far, just realizing who he is, how he's going to tailor the offense to his playmakers – to me, that speaks volumes. You find a lot of guys that want to just run their system without really trying to play to the attributes of their players and that's not Dave. I'm excited about it – he's eager to see how his philosophy is going to affect the guys around here and that's the best part about it. This is the time for growth and to learn what type of team you're going to be – then when you put the pads on, it really comes to fruition. I'm excited and he's open-minded as well."
3) Consistency is what players aim to achieve on the gridiron and Mayfield candidly assessed his own career journey and untapped potential. He is eager to get to work in Tampa Bay and will work towards "stability."
"I think any time you look at some of the quarterbacks that have had a lot of success, you look at the stability they've had. Unfortunately, I haven't had that but that's not all on everybody else – I haven't played the best I'm capable of. I've had flashes of that – I know that – so I'm just eager to have this next opportunity and see what it can become."
4) Mayfield was traded to the Panthers in 2022 and came in during training camp. Later that year, he was claimed off waivers by the Rams. His last normal offseason came in 2020, despite the COVID pandemic. Mayfield learned the offense over Zoom and was able to discuss and dissect the playbook with teammates and coaches. This year in Tampa Bay, Mayfield is looking forward to learning the Bucs' new-look offense through a full offseason program. The next chapter begins.
"…For me, I'm looking forward to this opportunity of learning the offense through the full offseason mode and just learning the foundation of it. To me, the stats will come later on but right now, you're trying to find the foundation of your team, of what really is my job – footwork wise, scheme wise – how can I put us in the best position possible to win? And then the stats will come with that."
5) When asked what the quarterback position will entail in the Bucs' new offensive system, Mayfield stated "distributing the ball." He cited a focus on getting the ball into the hands of playmakers to complement the club's stellar defense.
"Distributing the ball. I think when I look at this team – what I'm joining, what I'm coming into – whether it's Kyle [Trask] or me playing, we have a great defense. We've got to look at it that way. They're going to keep the team to low-scoring points and let's just make sure that we're taking care of it, doing our job, getting it in our playmakers hands because we have great ones here. Let's make sure we're doing that and as the season goes on, let's continue to grow as an offense. They've got the same system on defense; we've got a new one [on offense] so let's progress as the year goes on and let's make sure we're peaking at the right time."
6) Mayfield and Todd Bowles initially met in 2018 during the pre-draft process, when Bowles served as the head coach for the New York Jets. In those conversations, Mayfield's competitive spirit impressed Bowles and the two are now reunited in Tampa Bay years later. The Oklahoma product is ready for the challenge of facing the Bucs' defense every day in practice.
"It's great. I got to chit chat with him a little bit on the field last year before the first Tampa – Carolina game. It was very, very brief but it was good to see him and ask him how he's doing. It's great, the relationship is great. He knows what kind of competitor I am and I'm excited to be around a guy like that [with] as smart as he is defensively and to get those challenges every day in defense against a great squad."