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Is Baker Mayfield auditioning for a starting gig in the Rams finale?

There will be a ton of open quarterback jobs this year, will any of them want Baker Mayfield?

Los Angeles Rams v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Where could Baker Mayfield end up signing as a free agent this offseason? I think the list of teams that definitely are not options would be shorter.

There is a wide range of quarterbacking roles that Mayfield could fit into right now, it just depends on who you ask. Many fans still feel that Mayfield should be an outright starter and not have to compete. Others assume that given how bad he was with the Carolina Panthers, and certainly at times with the L.A. Rams, that he has to compete for a job. And others, like myself, believe that his best possible situation would be one like his current role on the Rams.

That he should just sit behind a good quarterback for at least a year or two, learning from a good coaching staff, and allow himself to take in what it’s like to be on a competitive NFL team without having to be the catalyst.

Including the Browns and Panthers, there would only be a handful of teams that do not make any sense for Mayfield right now, especially given that we will soon get a carousel of new head coaches and general managers in the coming weeks. The list of potential NFL destinations for Mayfield will only get shorter once Baker Mayfield decides what kind of a quarterback he needs to be in 2023.

Could the decision hinge at all on how Mayfield plays against the Seattle Seahawks? It really should not.

Los Angeles Rams v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

We’ve already seen Mayfield play well at times in 2022, such as in L.A.’s 51-14 win over the Denver Broncos. We’ve also seen the worst of Mayfield and we don’t even need to get into his unusual stint with the Rams in which he’s had to carry an offense, at times, that he only just became a part of days before his first game. Similar to not overrating a quarterback prospect’s final start in college just before the NFL Draft, it’s the entire body of work that should carry the most weight.

Not, “Well, finally I saw him execute this type of play” or “Wow, look at this incredible highlight.”

We know that Mayfield can execute plays that most other quarterbacks can’t execute, that’s what made him the number one draft pick in 2018 over Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson. It’s difficult to imagine being thrown into a worse situation than playing for Hue Jackson’s Browns in 2018, coming off of a 1-31 record the previous two seasons, but Mayfield’s rollercoaster experience in Cleveland had many more lows than highs.

That’s why I think he needs to get off of the ride for a while and go take pictures with Goofy for a minute.

But that’s not up to me and I could be misjudging his ability to go make a good team better. Where could Baker Mayfield end up in 2023?

Go be a BACKUP, Baker!

Bills, Bengals, Jaguars, Chiefs, Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, Rams, wherever Tom Brady ends up

I’m not saying that all of these teams make sense for Baker Mayfield or that they will want him, but I would consider these jobs “not up for sale” and potentially opportunities for him to learn without playing. The one that jumps out to me the most would be Cincinnati, where Mayfield could take his cues on how to be a good number one pick from Joe Burrow and on one of the fastest rising teams in the NFL. The Bengals also have a lot of cap space and could use an upgrade from former Rams quarterback Brandon Allen. It was only two years ago that Burrow tore his ACL and Cincinnati went 1-4 with Allen as the starter. Zac Taylor’s offense is also going to be at least a little bit familiar to Mayfield.

I do not think that Tom Brady would necessarily want Mayfield breathing down his neck, but technically speaking that would be an interesting place for Mayfield to be standing if he wanted to better himself.

Where Mayfield causes some potential HAVOC

Dolphins, Steelers, Broncos, Giants, Bears, Vikings, 49ers

Again, this is just a list of teams that qualify, not necessarily perfect fits for Baker Mayfield. However, hypothetically the Dolphins and Mike McDaniel could say, “Well, we’re going to start Tua, it’s Tua’s job, there’s no competition here” but maybe it’s only a few weeks before Miami is asking the question of whether to insert Mayfield into the lineup. And what situations are better for a quarterback right now than playing for McDaniel and throwing to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle?

Similarly, imagine being matched up with Justin Jefferson or being the second-in-line behind Russell Wilson or getting into the rotation for Kyle Shanahan? These roles allow Mayfield both the opportunity to learn and the opportunity to get his shot next season.

Open Competitions

Patriots, Jets, Titans, Raiders, Commanders, Lions, Falcons, Seahawks

Maybe these teams have quarterbacks who they are ready to throw into a starting role next year, maybe they don’t. The Seahawks were reportedly ready to sign Mayfield in the offseason if the Browns released him, but they were not willing to trade a pick for him and his contract. Instead they’ve gotten a Pro Bowl season from Geno Smith but is Geno Smith really the quarterback who Seattle will want as the starter again or is his ceiling too limited? As a free agent, the Seahawks could be open to Mayfield just as they could be open to Jimmy Garoppolo, but I’m only mentioning them as a hypothetical scenario if a) they let Geno walk and b) they are probably drafting a quarterback in the first round to be groomed for the starting gig long-term.

It’s a similar situation with the Detroit Lions as Jared Goff is capable but is he the quarterback who will lead the Lions to their first Super Bowl? They might be open for a competition, same as the Titans and Ryan Tannehill (if he’s still on the roster) or the Patriots and Mac Jones. We know the Jets are going to be looking again, but is Mayfield enticing enough to convince New York that he’s better than what they’ve got?


Colts, Saints, Texans, Bucs if Brady leaves

Potentially four teams that will have new head coaches in 2023 and maybe even willing to hand the job to Mayfield with a full offseason to prepare. It would be a Godsend for Mayfield to end up on the Saints, especially if Sean Payton just decides to go right back to his old job, but is that a legitimate possibility? Houston would be the worst possible job for Mayfield, and assuming that they’re picking a quarterback first overall, not a long-term role unless he manages to be really good on a team that is really bad.

Pairing him on the Colts with someone like Jim Harbaugh could be speculated, as I am speculating it, but how is that any better than the experiments with Carson Wentz or Matt Ryan?

I know that Mayfield isn’t going to the Browns, Panthers, or Cardinals. I’m not 100% certain about anywhere else.