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Baker Mayfield Rams

TNF Comeback Start Of Something More For Baker Mayfield?

  • Justin Melo
  • December 9, 2022
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Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback Baker Mayfield was electric to close out Thursday’s come-from-behind 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. Mayfield was incredibly impressive given that he arrived in L.A. via the waiver wire just days ago. Mayfield may use this audition to better position himself to be a starting quarterback in 2023.

Mayfield completed 22-of-35 passing attempts for 230 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions. It was especially eye-opening because Mayfield hasn’t even experienced his first practice with the Rams given the timing of his addition. Mayfield showed terrific poise and command of an offense he’s still learning about.

Mayfield enjoyed a legendary moment too. He and the Rams received the ball at their own 2-yard line trailing 16-10 with under two minutes to play and zero remaining timeouts. Mayfield promptly led his Rams on a 98-yard game-winning drive that culminated with an in-the-bucket 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Van Jefferson with 10 seconds remaining.

The Rams trailed by 13 points in the fourth quarter. Mayfield’s 98-yard drive was the longest go-ahead touchdown drive that began in the final two minutes over the past 45 seasons, per the Elias Sports Bureau. The Raiders shockingly played man coverage throughout the majority of the Rams’ game-winning drive. Mayfield took advantage of defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s error in judgment. Mayfield’s 15 fourth-quarter completions were the second-most completions in any quarter of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Thursday’s showing encapsulated why Mayfield decided to bet on himself. The former No. 1 overall selection was granted his release from the Carolina Panthers after being demoted to backup duties. The Rams were the lone team to submit a claim for Mayfield’s services. Mayfield may have wished to land with a contender, but receiving an opportunity to start surely topped Mayfield’s wishlist.

Mayfield’s decision to depart the Panthers centered around the wish to better position himself ahead of 2023. The Rams owe Mayfield a base salary of $1.3 million for the remainder of the campaign, via Spotrac. He’ll reach unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the current campaign.

The challenge Mayfield now faces is to ensure Thursday’s performance becomes a trend as opposed to an outlier. The adrenaline was surely pumping for Mayfield after an emotional week. Sustaining his form is crucial to achieving leverage throughout his upcoming free agency period.

Mayfield’s future is unlikely to reside in Los Angeles, but we can’t completely discount the possibility. Starting quarterback Matthew Stafford was recently placed on IR with a spinal cord contusion injury. Although he hasn’t been fully ruled out yet, Stafford isn’t expected to play again this season. It’s the type of injury that may have Stafford questioning his future and contemplating retirement. The soon-to-be-35-year-old Stafford has made a boatload of money and has won a Super Bowl. His health should come first. Should Stafford walk away, general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay may possess an interest in re-signing Mayfield should he continue to build on Thursday’s showing.

Don’t chuckle at the thought of Mayfield starting in 2023. He may be one of the 32 best signal-callers in the league. Mike White and Daniel Jones are starting quarterbacks on playoff-caliber teams. Carson Wentz and Marcus Mariota entered the season as starting quarterbacks.

It’s been a difficult year for Mayfield. The former Oklahoma standout endured a public breakup with the Cleveland Browns only to thrust himself into an even less enjoyable experience in Carolina. It would have been understandable if Mayfield began questioning his own abilities (although indications are that his faith never wavered). Thursday proved that a path for Mayfield to be an NFL starting quarterback still exists.

Written By

Justin Melo