Buccaneers going from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield is the anti-Aaron Rodgers move
Quarterback Baker Mayfield is heading to the Buccaneers. He will be competing to replace Tom Brady. This is like going from Denzel Washington to me. This is the anti-Aaron Rodgers move.
According to various reports, Mayfield signed a one-year deal worth up to $8.5 million. His salary, according to ESPN, starts at $4 million. That's car wash money for an NFL team. The other option I guess was Steve DeBerg.
Mayfield will battle for the job with Kyle Trask. Mayfield vs. Trask: you feel that excitement? I sure do. I'm certain elite Buccaneers receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin do not.
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The Mayfield news is far from the biggest of NFL free agency, especially with Rodgers hanging over the league like a spy balloon, but in some ways it's among the most interesting.
Mayfield, for several years, was one of the most recognizable stars in the NFL. His Progressive commercials were actually funny. He had personality and on occasion showed talent on the field. Then it all crashed.
His signing with the Bucs signals several things. First, it officially marks the end of the Brady era. We already knew it was over when Brady retired this offseason, but this really marks it in a gobsmacking way. There have likely been larger quarterback falls-off-a-cliff going from Brady to MayTrask, but not many.
Second, Brady turned the Buccaneers into a highly watchable, brilliant franchise. Built differently from the Tony Dungy Bucs teams that relied on defense to win, and just as successful, and beautiful to watch. Brady turned every game into an event, must-watch football.
If you're settling for Mayfield and Trask, you're likely conceding to a four-win season. To go from what Brady did to this is going to be shocking.
Third, it shows just how scarce the quarterback free agent market is, and why some teams make such drastic moves. The Jets are likely going to trade for Rodgers, and the compensation could be extreme, but to them it's worth it because it's Rodgers. He is a grievance machine and could burn down that Jets locker room, and then smoke the remains on a beach somewhere, but he's a Hall of Famer with at least a few years left.
He will be a pain in the Jets' rear but he will win. It's a risk signing an egomaniac but this is what it takes.
Other teams also see the value of taking those types of steps. The Carolina Panthers traded a massive bounty to the Bears to move up to No. 1 in the draft and will almost certainly pick a quarterback. The Bears got from Carolina the ninth overall pick this year, a second-round selection in 2023 (No. 61 overall), a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025, and D.J. Moore, a talented receiver.
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There are teams that simply don't want to spend years rebuilding. They want as sure a thing as possible at the position.
It's actually shocking to see Mayfield playing for what is expected to be his fourth team. He was the No. 1 pick in 2018 and I thought he'd be a star and save the Browns. Instead, he's one of the most disappointing No. 1 picks in league history. ESPN Stats & Information said Mayfield is just the second player in the draft era (since 1967) who was taken first overall to play for three teams in his first five seasons.
Now, he might replace Tom Freaking Brady.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield: Bucs make anti-Aaron Rodgers move