Baker Mayfield has been on a journey since getting traded from the Cleveland Browns, as the former No. 1 overall pick is still trying to prove he can start in the league. Mayfield lost the starting quarterback job in Carolina last season, only to salvage his career as a starting quarterback with the Los Angeles Rams.
Mayfield parlayed that tryout into a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, getting the opportunity to start for a franchise that had its best period of success with Tom Brady at quarterback. The Buccaneers still have talent on their roster, but the uncertainly of Mayfield could determine whether this team returns to the playoffs or not.
One thing is certain with Mayfield: he isn't trying to be Brady.
"I'm never going to be Tom Brady. There's a reason he has won so many Super Bowls -- he's the greatest of all time, there's no doubt about that. I'm not going to try and be Tom, I'm going to be me -- that's what's gotten me to this point," Mayfield said at his introductory press conference Monday. "We're going to do it differently, but that's what makes this league so special -- everybody puts their own touch on it.
"It's an honor to follow up somebody like that. The people that have played with him around here, I'm going to pick their brains as to the things he did -- there's no doubt about that. I'm excited. Like I said, it's an organization that's seen success, and following a guy like that is special."
Mayfield's tenure with the Panthers was a disaster. He went 1-5 as the starter in Carolina, completing 57.8% of his passes for 1,313 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions in seven total games played. He was released in December after Carolina decided to move forward with Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker. Mayfield ranked 32nd in completion rate, 31st in yards per attempt (6.4), 28th in touchdown-to-interception ratio, and 32nd in passer rating (74.4) when the Panthers released him.
He salvaged his career as a starter with the Rams, completing 63.6% of his passes for 850 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in five games with Los Angeles (86.4 rating). that prompted Tampa Bay to take a chance on him, pairing Mayfield with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his top wideouts.
The journey to Tampa Bay has humbled Mayfield, but he's not changing what got him to the NFL. He still has the leadership ability that attracted the Buccaneers in the first place.
"It's been different, but the thing I've realized the most in the last year is, 'How can I help with what I'm best at?'" Mayfield said. "And that's being a good leader, being infectious, energetic -- and even when I'm not playing, helping guys out.
"I've played a lot of ball, so I've seen a decent amount, so I can help people out from being behind the scenes like I did last year quite a bit. And just enjoying the process -- this is a dream I'm living -- why not enjoy it? Right now, I want to compete and I want to win."