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The fate of Baker Mayfield hinges on other QB dominoes falling first

Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, and the top draft selections will come off the market first—then Mayfield can find his next team.

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

With the Scouting Combine in the rear view mirror, the next major milestone in the NFL offseason calendar is free agency—of which the pre-free agency negotiation period starts in just over a week on March 13th. Players on expired contracts are officially free to sign with a new team on March 15th.

With just over a week to go until the negotiation period, you’d think that there would be some growing clarity surrounding quarterback Baker Mayfield’s free agency prospects. Instead, it seems he is comfortably in a second tier of signal callers whose futures are dependent upon where the first tier ends up.

There are a number of teams looking for a starting quarterback this offseason. The Washington Commanders, Carolina Panthers, and Indianapolis Colts have all been burned by veteran reclamation projects and are would likely prefer to draft a rookie. The Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons are all looking for upgrades at football’s most important position. Then there are the teams like the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, and Seattle Seahawks that have starting quarterbacks on expiring contracts. The Ravens may entertain trade offers for Lamar Jackson. The Giants should consider moving on Daniel Jones if his price tag is truly approaching the $45M mark or the franchise tag.

The QB market isn’t quite in full swing, but it’s certainly accelerating rapidly—and we will start to see some butts land in these magical chairs over the next couple of weeks.

With each passing day it seems the Green Bay Packers are set to move on from their face of the franchise in Aaron Rodgers and turn towards the young and promising Jordan Love. Derek Carr might be the biggest name on the open market with the fewest hurdles needed to acquire his services. Reportedly, the Ravens are contemplating using the non-exclusive tag on Lamar Jackson which means the former league MVP could potentially be had for two first round draft selections.

But as the bigger names put pen to paper and hold their introductory press conferences, the market for quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield are just starting to get hot.

Sure, there is some likelihood that Mayfield is willing to eat a piece of humble pie and return to the Rams for another season as the full-time backup to Matthew Stafford. The former number one overall draft pick by the Cleveland Browns seemed to have an affinity for Sean McVay, and he was at times a productive passer despite Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson being shut down for the season before he arrived in LA. Mayfield probably prefers to be a starter, but a good backup job like he’d have in the Rams is a better landing spot for him than a bad starting role where there’s almost no chance to succeed.

So if the Saints miss out on Derek Carr, Mayfield could shine in New Orleans with Chris Olave, Rasheed Shaheed, and Alvin Kamara. He’d also be a fine game manager for the Jets where their formula is playing stifling defense, being a point guard to Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore, and protecting the football. Even while the Tennessee Titans lack formidable receiving targets, the presence of Derrick Henry and a well-coached defense could allow Mayfield to help them return to the playoffs.

In other words Baker Mayfield will have plenty of suitors this offseason, but he’ll have to play the waiting game and watch how the cards fall before he has an idea where he might end up. As we start to get answers surrounding the offseason QB carousel, that’s truly when the questions and rumors will start for the former Brown and maybe former Ram.