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Baker Mayfield Rams
NFL

What Can Baker Mayfield Prove With Rams?

  • Justin Melo
  • December 7, 2022
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The Los Angeles Rams claimed quarterback Baker Mayfield off waivers on Tuesday afternoon. Mayfield asked for and was granted his release from the Carolina Panthers after being demoted to backup duty. Mayfield should now receive an opportunity to serve as the Rams’ starting quarterback through the completion of the 2022 campaign. Mayfield will attempt to use this period to better position himself for his impending free agency.

The Rams were the lone franchise to submit a waiver claim for Mayfield’s services. The Rams owe Mayfield a base salary of $1.3 million for the remainder of the campaign, via Spotrac. Claiming Mayfield was a straightforward decision for Rams general manager Les Snead given the relatively low financial risk. 

The 3-9 Rams occupy last place in the NFC West. The squad possesses little incentive to tank the remainder of their contests because the Rams don’t possess their first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. It adds to the likelihood that Mayfield will receive an opportunity to start at quarterback.

Head coach Sean McVay was in desperate need of a quarterback. Starting signal-caller Matthew Stafford is expected to miss the rest of the season with an ongoing spinal cord contusion injury. Stafford has already been placed on IR, ruling him out for a minimum of four contests. It’s difficult to envision Stafford playing again in 2022.

Enter Mayfield. It’s been a tumultuous journey for the former No. 1 overall selection. A public breakup with the Cleveland Browns led to Mayfield making adjustments to his contract and accepting a trade to the Panthers. He failed to meet Carolina’s expectations. Mayfield completed 57.8% of his passing attempts in Carolina this season and threw as many interceptions (6) as he did touchdowns.

Mayfield is set to reach free agency at the conclusion of this current campaign. His future obviously doesn’t reside with the Rams, but he’ll attempt to use this period as a personal showcase before testing the free agency waters for the first time in his uneven career. Backing up Sam Darnold in Carolina would have harmed his stock. Playing for the Rams allows Mayfield to determine his own worth.

Impressing potential offseason suitors won’t be easy for Mayfield given the Rams’ lackluster supporting cast, however. Superstar wide receiver Cooper Kupp is on IR after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle. The Rams would be wise to shut Kupp down for the season. No. 2 receiver Allen Robinson II also suffered a season-ending foot injury.

There’s also the manner of Los Angeles’ turnstile offensive line. Salary cap restrictions prevented the Rams from piecing together a quality starting five. Stafford was sacked 29 times in nine regular-season appearances. Mayfield struggled behind Carolina’s lackluster offensive line, and he may encounter an even worse one in L.A. Still, an opportunity is better than no opportunity. 

Stafford isn’t the lone injury in the Rams’ quarterbacking room. John Wolford has been labeled as day-to-day with a neck injury. The Rams’ offense showed signs of life in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks despite Wolford’s pedestrian numbers. Wolford completed 14-of-26 passing attempts for 178 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions. With the Rams on a short week, Wolford is expected to start Thursday’s contest against the Las Vegas Raiders barring a setback to his neck injury. Bryce Perkins is also on the roster. Mayfield will eventually take over.

By asking for his release and landing with the Rams, Baker Mayfield positioned himself to receive some much-needed playing time. He’ll receive an opportunity to head into free agency with some leverage if he performs admirably throughout this evaluation period. It’s simply going to be a difficult achievement given the current state of the Rams’ roster.

Written By

Justin Melo